What Is The Ball Called In Football?




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Have you ever found yourself wondering, “What is the ball called in football?” Well, look no further because we’ve got the answer for you. In the world of American Football, the ball is commonly referred to as a pigskin. But why is it called that? Is the ball really made of pigskin? In this article, we’ll explore all these questions and more, giving you a comprehensive understanding of the terminology used in this exciting sport. Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just starting to dip your toes into the game, this article will provide you with all the information you need. So let’s get started and uncover the secrets behind the ball in football!

Overview of American Football

American football is a high-energy sport that has gained immense popularity in the United States and has even gained a significant following internationally. It is a physical and strategic game that showcases the skills and athleticism of its players. The sport is played with an oval-shaped ball which is specifically designed for American football. The ball plays a crucial role in the game, and understanding its features and characteristics is essential for anyone interested in the sport.

Definition and Origins

American football is a contact sport played between two teams of eleven players each. The objective of the game is to score points by advancing the ball into the opposing team’s end zone or by kicking it through their goalposts. The origins of American football can be traced back to various forms of rugby and soccer played in the United States during the mid-19th century. Over time, it evolved into its own distinct sport with unique rules and strategies.

Popularity and Cultural Impact

American football is deeply ingrained in American culture and has become one of the most popular sports in the country. The National Football League (NFL), which is the premier professional football league in the United States, attracts millions of viewers and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. The Super Bowl, the championship game of the NFL, has become a significant cultural event and is watched by fans from around the world. American football has also influenced various aspects of popular culture, including music, movies, and fashion.

Key Differences from Soccer

While American football and soccer share some similarities as ball sports, there are significant differences between the two. One of the key differences is the shape of the ball. Unlike the round ball used in soccer, American football is oval-shaped and provides a unique grip and throwing capability. Additionally, American football is a more physical and contact-oriented game, with players wearing protective gear such as helmets and shoulder pads. The scoring systems, rules, and strategies also differ greatly between the two sports.

Ball Used in American Football

The ball used in American football, commonly referred to as a football or a pigskin, is distinct in its shape, size, weight, and material composition. These factors contribute to its performance and usability during gameplay.

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Shape and Design

The American football has a unique oblong shape, with pointed ends and a curved surface. The shape allows players to grip the ball securely for throwing, catching, and running with it. The pointed ends help to minimize unpredictable bounces and enhance the ball’s aerodynamic properties.

Size and Weight

The standard size of an American football is approximately 11 inches long, with a circumference of 28 inches around its widest part. The weight of the football typically ranges between 14 and 15 ounces. These dimensions are carefully regulated to ensure consistency and fairness across all levels of the game.

Material Composition

The outer surface of an American football is traditionally made from genuine leather, often referred to as cowhide or pigskin. This material provides durability, a good grip, and a distinctive texture. However, modern footballs may also feature synthetic materials, such as composite leather or rubber, which offer improved durability and performance in different weather conditions.

Manufacturer Regulations

The manufacturing process of American footballs is subject to strict regulations and standards set by the NFL. The league has an official “Wilson” as the sole supplier of its game balls. Manufacturers must adhere to specific guidelines for stitching, quality control, and ball inflation to ensure uniformity and consistency across all game balls.

What Is The Ball Called In Football?

Evolution of the American Football

The American football has undergone significant changes in its design and technology since its early origins. These changes have not only impacted the aesthetics of the ball but also had a considerable influence on gameplay and strategy in American football.

Historical Background

The earliest footballs in America were often irregularly shaped and made from various materials, including animal bladders and inflated pig’s bladders. As the sport evolved and gained popularity, leather became the preferred material for footballs due to its durability and grip. Over time, advancements in manufacturing techniques and materials led to the development of more standardized and reliable footballs.

Changes in Design and Technology

Throughout the history of American football, there have been several notable advancements in the design and technology of footballs. In the early 20th century, laces were added to allow for a better grip and control of the ball. In the 1940s, the introduction of rubber bladders inside the ball improved its shape retention and bounce. More recently, advancements in synthetic materials have led to the development of footballs that are more resistant to wear and offer improved performance in different weather conditions.

Impact on Gameplay and Strategy

The evolution of the American football has had a profound impact on gameplay and strategy in the sport. The improved shape and grip of the ball have allowed quarterbacks to throw the ball with greater accuracy and distance. Receivers have also benefited from advancements in the ball’s design, as they can now make more precise catches. Additionally, changes in the ball’s material composition have influenced how it behaves in different weather conditions, affecting passing, kicking, and ball control strategies.

Official NFL Football

The official game ball of the NFL, also known as “The Duke,” is manufactured and supplied exclusively by Wilson Sporting Goods. As the premier professional football league in the United States, the NFL has stringent quality standards and regulations for its game balls.

Sole Supplier and Sponsorship

Wilson Sporting Goods has been the sole supplier of footballs to the NFL since 1941. The partnership between the NFL and Wilson has been long-standing and mutually beneficial, with Wilson gaining significant brand exposure and the NFL ensuring consistency and quality in its game balls.

Quality Standards and Testing

The NFL has specific quality standards that game balls must meet to ensure fair and consistent gameplay. Wilson, as the official supplier, must adhere to these standards and subject their footballs to rigorous testing to ensure they meet the required specifications. This includes tests for weight, size, shape, grip, and durability.

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Sealing and Markings

Official NFL footballs are distinguished by their unique markings and seals. Each ball is stamped with the NFL logo and the signature of the league’s Commissioner. Additionally, the balls are marked with a unique identification number to prevent tampering or unauthorized use. The balls also feature the official game ball name, “The Duke,” in honor of football legend Wellington “Duke” Mara.

Official Game and Practice Balls

In addition to the official game balls used during NFL games, Wilson also manufactures special practice balls for teams to use during training sessions. These practice balls are designed to replicate the feel and performance of the game balls, allowing players to familiarize themselves with the unique characteristics of the official NFL football.

What Is The Ball Called In Football?

Alternative Footballs

While the official NFL football is used in professional games, there are various alternative footballs designed for specific purposes and age groups.

Youth and Junior Footballs

Youth and junior footballs are designed to be smaller and lighter than official NFL footballs, making them easier to handle for young players. These footballs often feature bright colors and enhanced grip, providing better visibility and control for beginners.

College Footballs

College footballs, used in collegiate level games, closely resemble the official NFL football in terms of size and weight. However, they may have different markings or branding specific to the college or conference.

Customized Footballs

Customized footballs offer a unique opportunity for fans and collectors to personalize their footballs with custom graphics, team logos, or signatures of their favorite players. These footballs are often used for display or as commemorative items.

Miniature and Souvenir Footballs

Miniature and souvenir footballs are small replicas of the official NFL football. These footballs are typically used as promotional items, fan memorabilia, or as decorative pieces. They are not intended for gameplay.

Importance of the Football in American Football

The football is an integral part of the game of American football, serving as the primary object of play. Its significance goes beyond mere functionality and plays a vital role in the sport’s symbolism, tradition, gameplay, and tactics.

Integral Part of the Game

The football is the centerpiece of American football, serving as the medium through which the game is played. Each play begins with the snap of the football and revolves around advancing or defending against its movement. The football’s unique shape and design dictate the strategies and techniques employed by players.

Symbolism and Tradition

The football holds significant symbolism in American football, representing the essence of the sport and its values. It represents teamwork, competition, and the pursuit of victory. The act of throwing, catching, and carrying the football has become a deeply ingrained tradition in the sport, evoking a sense of excitement and camaraderie among players and fans.

Handling and Control

The design of the football places emphasis on grip and control, allowing players to make accurate throws, catches, and runs. The ability to handle the football effectively is a fundamental skill for quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs, as it directly impacts the success of the team’s offensive plays.

Effect on Gameplay and Tactics

The shape, size, weight, and material composition of the football have a direct impact on gameplay and tactics in American football. Quarterbacks rely on the ball’s aerodynamic properties and grip to deliver accurate and powerful passes. Receivers and running backs must have precise ball control to evade defenders and gain yards. The ball’s behavior in different weather conditions can also influence game strategies and decision-making.

What Is The Ball Called In Football?

How the Football is Used in American Football

The football is used in various ways during a game of American football, encompassing passing, receiving, running, carrying, kicking, punting, and scoring touchdowns. Each of these actions requires specific techniques and skills, all centered around the football.

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Passing and Receiving

Passing is one of the primary ways in which the football is used in American football. Quarterbacks throw the ball to their receivers, aiming for accuracy and distance. Receivers, in turn, catch the ball while in motion, often under pressure from defenders. This coordination between the quarterback and receivers is crucial for successfully advancing the ball.

Running and Carrying

Running and carrying the football involves players, typically running backs, using their speed, agility, and ball control to advance the ball into the opposing team’s territory. Carriers must protect the ball from being stripped by defenders while making quick decisions to evade tackles and gain yards.

Kicking and Punting

Kicking and punting the football play a strategic role in American football. Kickers and punters use their specialized kicking techniques to launch the ball down the field, either for field goals, extra points, kickoffs, or to change field position. These actions require precision and control to ensure the desired outcome.

Scoring Touchdowns

The ultimate objective of American football is to score touchdowns, which involves carrying or catching the football across the opposing team’s goal line. Touchdowns are the most significant scoring plays in the game and are celebrated by players and fans alike.

Caring for the Football

Proper care and maintenance are essential for preserving the performance and lifespan of the football. Paying attention to factors such as inflation, cleaning, storage, and replacement can ensure the ball’s longevity.

Inflation and Pressure

Maintaining the correct inflation pressure is critical for the football’s performance and usability. Overinflated or underinflated balls can affect grip, throwing accuracy, and bounce. Regularly checking and adjusting the inflation pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendations is crucial.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance can help prolong the life of the football. Removing dirt, debris, and excess moisture can prevent damage to the ball’s surface and ensure it remains in optimal condition. Gentle wiping with a damp cloth and mild soap is sufficient for cleaning.

Storage and Protection

Proper storage is essential to prevent damage to the football when not in use. Keeping the ball in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and moisture is recommended. It is also advisable to protect the ball from sharp objects or rough surfaces that could potentially cause punctures or abrasions.

Replacing Worn-out Footballs

Over time, footballs may wear out due to repeated use and exposure to harsh conditions. It is crucial to regularly inspect the ball for signs of deterioration, such as worn-out laces, sagging shape, or loss of grip. When a football becomes significantly worn or damaged, it should be replaced to maintain the integrity and performance of the game.

Controversies and Rule Changes

The football has been at the center of some controversies in American football, leading to rule changes and increased emphasis on game integrity and player safety.

Deflategate Scandal

One of the most notorious controversies involving the football was the Deflategate scandal in 2015. The scandal centered around allegations that the New England Patriots deliberately deflated footballs below the required inflation pressure during the AFC Championship Game. The incident led to a lengthy investigation, subsequent rule modifications, and penalties for the team involved.

Influence on Game Integrity

Controversies surrounding the football have highlighted the importance of maintaining the integrity of the game and fair competition. Ensuring that the football meets the required specifications is essential for fair gameplay and preventing any unfair advantages or disadvantages for the teams involved.

Rule Modifications and Enforcement

As a result of controversies and advancements in technology, the rules relating to the football have been modified over time. These changes have included stricter regulations for ball inflation, increased inspection protocols, and improved monitoring systems to prevent tampering and ensure compliance with the rules.

Safety Considerations

The safety of players is a top priority in American football, and the football itself plays a role in ensuring player safety. Rule changes and equipment advancements aimed at minimizing head injuries and concussions have led to increased awareness of the ball’s impact on player safety. The proper inflation and grip of the football can reduce the risk of fumbles and turnovers, minimizing potential collisions and injuries.


The football, a distinctive and vital component of American football, holds a significant place in the sport’s history, tradition, and gameplay. From its origins to its evolution, the football has undergone changes that have influenced how the game is played and how players interact with it. As the official game ball of the NFL, it possesses a unique status and importance. The football’s design, material composition, and purposeful construction are critical factors that contribute to the success and enjoyment of American football. With its continued innovation, the football remains an iconic symbol in the world of American sports.

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