Over the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed playing both soccer and volleyball. Both sports use a ball as their main piece of equipment, but I realized it’s hard to tell by just looking at them whether a soccer ball or a volleyball ball is the bigger of the two. So I decided to find out.
Here’s what I discovered.
A soccer ball is bigger than a volleyball. Although the two balls look similar in size, when the circumference, surface area, and volume of both are measured, the results show that a full-size soccer ball is bigger than a volleyball.
I found this interesting as I probably would have guessed the opposite!
After finding this out, I decided to see if the two balls differ in any other way. But before we get onto that, let’s quickly look at the official sizes of both balls to see the details about how the sizes differ.
What Is the Size Difference Between a Soccer Ball and Volleyball
The only way to know if one object is bigger than another is to measure them.
When I was thinking about this, I realized that rather than merely finding a nearby soccer ball and volleyball to test, I wanted a more accurate and official comparison of the measurements. So I went to the official organizations of both sports to find out what the requirements are for both balls.
The laws of soccer include an official measurement that every soccer ball must comply with. The rules of soccer say that a soccer ball must have a circumference of between 68 cm (27 ins) and 70 cm (28 ins).
In volleyball, the rules are governed by the Federation Internationale de Volleyball(FIVB). The regulations set by the FIVB also include a set measurement that every volleyball must comply with. The rules of volleyball require a volleyball to have a circumference of 65cm (25.5 ins) – 67cm (26.3 ins).
As you can see, this means that there is a difference in the size of 3cm or roughly 1.5 inches between a soccer ball and volleyball.
|68 cm (27 ins) – 70 cm (28 ins)
|65cm (25.5 ins) – 67cm (26.3 ins)
|1472 cm2 (580 ins2) and 1560 cm2 (614 ins2)
|1340 cm2 (528 ins2) and 1430 cm2 (563 ins2)
|5310 cm3 (2091 ins3) and 5790 cm3 (2280 ins3)
|4640cm3 (1827ins3) and 5080cm3 (2000ins3)
Another way to compare the sizes of two objects is to look at the surface area of both.
A soccer ball has a surface area of between 1472 cm2 (580 ins2) and 1560 cm2 (614 ins2).
A volleyball has a surface area of between 1340 cm2 (528 ins2) and 1430 cm2 (563 ins2).
Both the surface area results are based on formulas using the official circumference requirements of the balls according to the rules of both sports.
If you compare the surface area of a soccer ball to a volleyball, you will see that a soccer ball is around 130cm2 (51 ins2) bigger than a volleyball.
The last area to look at when comparing the sizes of balls is to look at the volume of a ball.
In volume, a soccer ball is between 5310 cm3 (2091 ins3) and 5790 cm3 (2280 ins3).
In volume, a volleyball measures between 4640cm3 (1827 ins3) and 5080 cm3 (2000 ins3).
Both the volume results are based on formulas using the official circumference requirements of the balls according to the rules of both sports.
So, if you compare the volume of a soccer ball to a volleyball, you will see that a soccer ball is around 700cm3 (276 ins3) bigger than a volleyball.
Other Ways a Soccer Ball Is Different From a Volleyball
Apart from the size of the two balls, there are a few other ways a soccer ball and a volleyball are different.
One significant difference is the weight of both balls.
The rules of soccer require a soccer ball to weigh between 410g (14 oz) and 450g (16 oz) at the beginning of a game.
In volleyball, the rules require a volleyball to have a weight of between 260g (9.2 oz) and 280g (9.9 oz).
As you can see, this leaves a difference of around 150g (5 oz) in weight between a soccer ball and volleyball. You can definitely feel this difference when you hold the two balls in your hands, or if you’re trying to juggle either ball with your feet.
Another difference is the internal pressure of the balls.
A soccer ball is required to have a pressure equal to 0.6–1.1 atmosphere (600 –1,100 g/cm²) at sea level (8.5lbs/sq in–15.6 lbs/sq in).
A volleyball is required to have an inside pressure of 300 to 325 g/cm2 (4.26 to 4.61 psi) (294.3 to 318.82 mbar or hPa).
As you can see, this difference in pressure will mean a volleyball is much softer than a soccer ball, as I’m sure you’ve noticed when handling the two balls.
The lining of the ball
One last significant difference between the two types of balls are in the construction of the balls.
A soccer ball is made up of 3 main layers:
- The bladder where the air inside the ball is contained
- The lining consisting of layers of polyurethane foam, polyester or cotton
- and the outside that is usually made of a synthetic leather
A volleyball, on the other hand, only consists of two layers:
- An internal bladder that contains the air inside of the ball
- and the outside synthetic or occasionally real leather
This difference in construction reflects the different requirements of the balls in their respective sports. And it also raises a question over whether the balls can be used interchangeably.
Can you use a soccer ball as a volleyball?
A question I’ve often heard people ask is about whether a soccer ball can be used as a replacement for a volleyball. I’ve definitely been in situations with friends where we wanted to play volleyball but only had a soccer ball available at the time.
A soccer ball can be used as a volleyball if no other option is available. However, the design, weight, and internal pressure of a soccer ball mean a soccer ball performs and responds differently to a volleyball and if not a perfect replacement.
As we have already seen, a soccer ball and volleyball are two different balls. A soccer ball is bigger, heavier, harder, and designed differently to a volleyball. This makes sense as they are intended to be used in different ways.
If you’ve ever tried using a soccer ball as a volleyball, you will probably have noticed the difference very quickly.
I know when I have tried, it doesn’t take long for my hand to feel the difference. Repeatedly hitting a hard soccer ball soon will quickly make your hand red and sore! Playing volleyball with a volleyball is far more enjoyable!
Apart from the harder surface of a soccer ball, the extra weight also affects a volleyball player’s technique as a soccer ball requires much more force from a player’s arm to get the ball over the net at speed.
Although hitting the ball with more force than usual is achievable for most players, it will cause a player to tire quicker and potentially lead to an uncomfortable hand.
Despite these drawbacks, a soccer ball is still a ball and can be used as a volleyball if necessary. But if possible, try and get hold of a volleyball!
As you’ve seen, a soccer ball is bigger than a volleyball in size, weight, and pressure.
If you only have a soccer ball available and you need a volleyball, I would recommend this one on Amazon. It’s really high quality but at an affordable price. It also has a lot of great reviews.
And if you’ve ever wondered why a soccer ball is often black and white, have a look at this article I recently wrote explaining the reasons why.