The perfect ball!

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Because of people’s love for sports and recreation, all sorts of equipment has been invented over time. And a very popular piece of equipment has been the ball.

Soccer balls, basketballs, beach balls, golf balls, tennis balls, hockey balls, rugby balls, American Football balls, ten pin bowling balls, softball balls, cricket balls and volleyballs are some of the most common but the list is Sport_balls.svg much longer.

Each ball in itself has to be created to suit its specific purpose, for example, a ten pin bowling ball must have no bounce and be heavy enough to knock over ten pins, but a tennis ball must bounce and be light.


Over time, sports technology has improved, and different materials have been used to make balls travel further, weigh more or less, be gripped better or to bounce further.


Let’s look at the basketball as an example.

A soccer ball was used to play basketball after the game was invented in 1894 but it wasn’t long before A.G. Spalding & Bros were asked to come up with a ball specifically for the new sport. The very first basketball was made of leather and was laced up. The circumference of the first ball was 83cm and it weighed just 566 grams.



By 1948 the ball had an official size with a circumference of 76cm and was now a molded ball with no laces. By 1970 the traditional eight panels were developed and over the next few decades the materials used to make basketballs included full grain leather, synthetic rubber and rubber, and different sizes were designed to suit younger players. The pursuit for a new and improved basketball continues and there has been one design with golf ball type dimples, another with sweat absorbing polyurethane as its outer layer, and even one with a built in pump.


Currently, the official ball is made of micro fibre composite rather than leather and has two interlocking panels rather than eight.

A more recent fad for balls has been the invention of super bouncy balls, not for a particular sport but for a whole lot of fun.

Watch the entertaining advert about the Amazing Skyball that you can find above.


Inquiry – Digging Deeper


Using science, create your own bouncy ball following the instructions that you will find in this article. Test its ability to bounce against the bounce of other balls you have – and most importantly, have fun!