While you can inflate a ball without owning a pump, it's so much more hassle. I suggest spending the $10-$30 on a pump or two, it will save you a lot of time and will allow you to inflate your ball whenever you want.
How a ball pump is made
Owning a pump comes with many benefits. You can inflate a ball without owning your own pump. However you will find yourself looking for needles, having to go to your local garage or even bike store. It's not like you can just grab your pump and inflate your ball.
The standard premium ball pump is often made up of four parts. These are the barrell, extension hose, needle & pressure gauge.
Cheaper pumps are often made up of just the barrell and the needle. Some will offer standalone gauges but that's very rare.
Here's a better idea of what each part of the pump does:
- BARREL: The barrel is where the air is collected and compressed before you push the handle down causing the air to go into the ball.
- HOSE: Unfortunately hose's aren't mandatory on ball pumps, I wish they were. This is normally a plastic or braided hose at the end of your pump allowing the ball to move freely while being inflated.
Pumps without hoses can be dangerous at times. If you're inflating the ball roughly and accidentally push too hard, you could snap the needle. This isn't an issue when you have a hose as the ball will be dangling mid air while being inflated.
If there's one extra feature that you must have on a pump, I'd say it's an extension hose.
- PRESSURE GAUGE: Once again, not mandatory. However it's incredibly useful to have. It's surprising that many pumps don't actually come with a gauge as having too much pressure in your ball may change the shape of your ball or even worse, tear stitching.
A pressure gauge tells you how much pressure (PSI) is in your ball, most will even have markings suggesting how much PSI each type of ball requires. It will vary from ball to ball, though these markings are very helpful guidelines.
- NEEDLE: Fairly straightforward, this is the needle that you screw into the end of your pump and inject into the ball to transfer the air. There's many ways to build a make-shift needle, however they're cheap enough to buy and almost always come with a pump anyway. All of the pumps listed below come with at least 1 needle.
What to look for in a soccer ball pump
When buying a pump you want to keep these key factors in mind.
- HOW PORTABLE IS IT? Portability is a huge factor. You'll struggle to find a soccer player that wants a huge pump as they have to carry it everywhere in their kit bag. I tend to go for the smaller pumps as they can easily fit in your pocket, bag or the side of your car door.
- DURABILITY & TOUGHNESS: It's a ball pump, how much will it have to withstand? While it's unlikely to get damaged it's always good to get a durable pump. You'll be surprised at how many times people walk over or step on your pump.Odds are it will be sitting at the bottom of your bag with water, boots and other heavy stuff in. Getting a durable pump is a smart decision and will likely save you money in the long run.
Ball pumps tend to be made up of thick, durable plastic but some still have very thin easy to break plastic. Buy to cheap and with one misstep, you may end up breaking right through it.
- EASY TO USE: You're probably thinking “It's a pump, how hard can it be?” but i've seen some weird contraptions in my time playing soccer.Keep in mind that if you have one, your kid is probably going to be using it at some point. The simpler your pump, the easier it is for everyone.
- PRICE TAG: Nobody wants to be spending an obscene amount of money on such a simple product. Frankly, there's no point. You are able to get high quality pumps for $30 and under, you don't need to break the bank to buy a pump.
Under Armour Dual Action Ball Pump Review
If you're looking for pure quality and convenience, look no further. The Under Armour Dual Action Ball Pump has every feature a soccer player could need. It's not outrageously priced and under armour is a highly reputable brand.
Overall this is the most complete pump you can buy. It's a decent price, convenient and is made by a reputable brand.
Franklin Sports Ball Maintenance Kit: Pump, Needles & Pressure Gauge Review
The franklin sports ball maintenance kit is an absolute steel. It has everything you need to take inflate your ball properly and make sure it stays in top condition.
This is by far your best budget option. I'm gutted I bought this mitre pump instead of the franklin maintenance kit.
When buying this pump you'll receive a detachable extension hose, 3 metal needles, a pressure gauge and a small bag to carry around the pumps components.
Another huge selling point is the fact that the pump has needle storage. I can't believe how many pumps actually lack this feature, leaving you with a decision to make, risk snapping the needle or risk losing it? No, the franklin pump has storage in the handle that can fit up to 3 needles.
Like every other pump on this list, it will work on any sports ball you throw at it.
This pump offers great value for money and is one of the most feature rich on this list. You really don't need to go any deeper if you're looking to get the best bang for your buck.
Mingru Ball Pump Review
I really like the pump for the price, though ideally it would have a gauge and bag. The pricing structure is great too, when buying from amazon you can get a multi-pack for a small amount more. This is great because I like to have multiple as I often lose them!
Nike Ball Pump Review
A nice budget option from one of the worlds leading soccer brands. If you're not a fan of the mingru ball pump, this nike pump is a great budget alternative. I know there's a lot of younger people who would opt for this pump and rightly so.
What really sells this pump to me is its size. It's 6.3 inches long meaning it's incredibly easy to leave it in your car door and forget about it, can fit in most pockets and it also comes with a detachable extension hose to make storing it even easier.
While a lot of the other pumps on this list may be able to double as a bike pump, unfortunately this cannot. The PSI is way too low, however it will do a fine job for inflating any sports balls.
Overall it's a very simplistic pump and is a great present for any child that plays sports. It could even act as a stocking filler, it's that compact.
Is a pressure gauge necessary?
In all honesty, no. A gauge is not necessary if you're a player that's pumping up his own training ball. Referee's and coaches should really invest in a pump that has a gauge, there's a certain PSI that match balls need to be.
It's also good to get a pump with a gauge as it'll help you keep your ball in top quality condition for longer. If you put too much air in your ball it will begin to change shape and in some cases the bladder will start to stress and break through the stitching.
Buying extra needles
If you're like me, you'll almost always lose your needles. If you don't buy a pump with needle storage it's always good to have extra needles sitting in a drawer in the house. That way you'll always have a back up plan. Needles can be bought for as cheap as a couple of bucks.
You can't go wrong with any of these pumps listed. I have to admit my favourite pump is the Under Armour Dual Action Ball pump. It comes with every feature I need and is a very good price. Though buying any of the cheaper options is more than enough.
If you want to get a pump today you could even head to your local sports store with a little extra knowledge and know what exactly you need from a soccer ball pump.
Should you be able to wait a day, if you have amazon prime and order online you'll receive your pump on the next working day.