Homemade Soccer Ball Tutorial - From rags and plastic bags

My kids are kind of an embarrassment when it comes to soccer. A cute little (big) kid from the African Congo tried to play soccer with Jamie and maybe it was because there was already a confusion about whether it was football or soccer, but Jamie kept picking up the ball and running with it.

Jamie really was at a disadvantage though, no one had ever played soccer with him before. But with the World Cup underway... two bad calls against the USA, and an epic win against Algeria that had us jumping up and down pretending we knew as much about soccer as we try to pretend...what better time is there for a kid to learn how to kick a ball better than piano majors play Mozart? (although in his case, Mary Had A Little Lamb is probably a better comparison).

We've made him watch enough of it on TV, and he's sort of addicted to YouTube clips (soccer takes a close second to tornadoes), so I figured it would be fun to go put that new found knowledge to practice.

Soccer...not tornadoes.

My mom taught me to play soccer, she has a whole box of trophies in the attic to prove she's more capable than most in this sport. I on the other hand can only claim a slight remembrance of dribbling the ball around the park with her, back when I was practically an only child. I wish more of it had rubbed off. As soon as she gets back in the country, I'm begging her to teach her grandkids.

But of course you can't play soccer without a ball, and a ball is something we don't have.


Step 1:

Go get a massive pile of all those plastic grocery bags you feel guilty about. Double purgatory if you own reusable bags but always forget them (Who... me?)

Raid your scrap cupboard, find some moldy rags, ragged t-shirts, or whatever extra fabric is hanging around your house.

Procure some string of some sort (twine is the capable product featured here)

Step 2:

Stuff all the bags into one bag. This is where you take out your need to squeeze and destroy something (better than a punching bag). Form the bags into as tight of a ball as you can and wrap some twine around it. If you have helpers like I did, this may take several attempts.

Step 3:

Cut long strips of cloth and wind it around your ball. I started out knotting them all together, but it was too difficult to prevent bumps where the knots were, so I abandoned that method in favor of just securing the loose ends tightly underneath the next layer.

Step 4:

This is the technical part that I wasn't able to get quite right on this first try. A child size regulation soccer ball is 22 inches and 10 oz. I hit 12 oz at 21 inches, which means I should have made my plasticbag-core bigger. Since I wanted my rather peanut sized children to be able to maneuver it easily... I compromised a little. (and yeah, I didn't really want to undo the whole thing as start over yet again).

Step 5:

That's it. You're done. You now have a bonified soccer ball... not exactly factory made, but beloved no less by kids everywhere.

The real question is, can it stand up to being kicked around?

Don't tell Jamie that's an Ohio State Football Jersey, he's under the impression he looks like a real soccer player.

In exchange for letting me take his picture...he had to take mine. Proof that I haven't improved much since I was Jamie's age, and those are my pajamas I'm still wearing at three in the afternoon.

Yay for the World Cup and may the vuvuzelas burn in hell forever.

This post was inspired by Josh.
3 sprinkles of fairy dust:

This is adorable, but holy hell, WHEN do you find the time to do these things??? I have not an ounce of spare time to myself and I don't have two little hooligans (erm, angels) to take care of!! You are wonder woman.

SEHR GEIL!, Dankeschön
very cool, many thanks

I laughed hard at your world cup comment haha. Although now its 2014 and since Im for USA and GER, Its spain im worried about.

Prost! cheers!
Tyler Deemer from AK. living in GER.

Thanks for the entertaining instructions on making a soccer ball. I just checked out Jessica Hilltout's 2013 NG article and was inspired to make it an art project for kids. Your demo filled in the gaps because I don't want them to use tape.