How to Deflate a Football without a Needle

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Every tool kit with a football contains a pump and needle to inflate and deflate the ball. There might be instances like cracks, dents, and punctures in the pump, or you may have lost the needle. In such cases, you should know how to deflate a football without a needle. 

How To Deflate A Football Without A Needle 

Unless you do not have any other choice but to deflate the football urgently, experts do not recommend deflating it without a needle. Be careful not to damage the internal bladder, which has an inner lining beneath the outer panel. It composes the core part of the ball.

Step 1: Gather The Required Materials 

To proceed to deflate your football without a needle, gather these required materials: 

  • Pen/Paper Clip
  • Coconut Oil 
  • Water 
A football placed on a grass field

Step 2: Choose A Pen Or Paper Clip 

A pen or a paper clip is the main equipment in this process. Choose any one of these two items to deflate your football.

If you choose a paper clip, make sure that the clip has a uniform thickness throughout its length. You have to choose a rust-free clip so that it doesn’t damage the valve. 

Straighten the paper clip so that it does not have any slack along its length. It is because you have to cover the maximum possible length of the clip to insert it into the valve. 

If you want to use a pen, go for the ballpoint ones. Gel pens have a thicker refill than the ballpoint ones, and they won’t penetrate the valve smoothly. 

Step 3: Lubricate The Clip/Refill 

Before you insert your tool into the valve, make sure that it is uniform and smooth.

To make it smoother, you can use any lubricant on the head and surface of your clip/refill. 

Use coconut oil as it is easily available at your home. You can also use olive oil to make the surface even glossier and smoother. 

  1. First, wash your clip or refill to remove unseen dirt on its surface and the tip. Washing your tool with water will reduce the friction caused by dirt. 
  2. Now, you can apply drops of coconut oil to the pen or dip the paper clip in oil. 

Step 4: Insert The Tool Into The Valve 

After moisturizing and lubricating the tool, insert it in the football’s valve. Make sure you have inserted the finest lubricated end of your clip/refill. 

  1. Insert your tool like the pump and needle method into the valve slowly. If you are facing any difficulty in gripping the lubricated surface, use a pair of rubber gloves.
  2. If you are right-handed, use your right hand to hold and insert the tool into the valve, and vice versa. You can use the other hand to hold a football or press it against the ground. 
  3. Press the football gently as you insert the tip of your tool into the valve. Keep applying gentle pressure till you hear air hissing out of the valve. 

Here’s a short video tutorial on how to deflate a football without a needle.

Additional Tips 

Tip 1: Take Help From A Friend 

Inserting your tool in the football valve and holding it simultaneously might create a hassle for you. It is better to take the help of a friend by asking him to squeeze the ball. 

While he squeezes gently, you can insert your paper clip or refill or hold it still. As the football deflates, ask him to apply more force to eject more air out of the football. 

Ask him to keep squeezing the ball until it is out of the air and gets flat. Your friend might attempt to apply more force to do the job quickly. 

Request him not to do such, as it can damage the rubber valve of your ball.

Tip 2: Place The Ball Inside The Refrigerator

You can also deflate your football by keeping it inside the refrigerator. Before placing your ball inside the refrigerator, make sure that your ball is clean. 

A football on a wooden surface

Rub it with a wet cloth and sanitize it before placement. It is because you have to keep your refrigerator hygienic. 

If your freezer is large enough to store a football, place your ball inside it. The cold air will make the vulcanized rubber walls of the football shrink. 

You can attach your paper clip to the valve while your ball is in the refrigerator. Doing such will increase the deflation rate and save your time. 

This tip is useful when you want to deflate your football partially without a needle. All you have to do is check the deflation rate with a football pressure gauge

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If The Clip/Pen Is Damaging The Valve? 

If your paper clip or pen is damaging in the valve, there will be a turbulent airflow. The deflation rate will be more rapid, and air will flow even after removing the clip/pin. 

If you deflate your football partially, know the status of your valve by regularly checking the air pressure. Moreover, you can’t inflate the ball after your valve has been damaged.

What To Do If The Paper Clip Has A Very Sharp End? 

If you have the only paper clip with a very sharp end, try to make it blunt. You can rub the sharp end with sandpaper to make it less sharp. 

In the case of thinner paper clips, you can cut the sharp end with the help of a nail cutter.


It is not practical to carry an inflated football in your bag. If you want to store your football or tum it more portable, you have to deflate it. 

The valve in your football is only accustomed to the needle that comes with the kit. Inserting any sharp object other than the provided needle might puncture the valve. 

Moreover, those sharp objects might enlarge it, which may disrupt the air retention. Remember that you must apply this technique only under urgency.

You can also purchase the best ball pumps from any online marketplace. Moreover, it is better to visit a sports store to inflate or deflate your football without equipment. 

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.