How to Break in a Leather Football

Suppose you have a new leather football that you’re hoping to use in your next game. If so, you’ll need to take the time to break it in first. Otherwise, you’ll be kicking a problematic, difficult ball to control. No one wants that! Breaking in a leather football is not as difficult as you might think. With just a little bit of effort, you can have your football ready for game day. Keep reading to learn how to break in a leather football the right way.

How to Break in a Leather Football

Football is a sport that people of all ages enjoy. Whether you’re a kid playing in the backyard or an adult trying to stay in shape, this is a great way to spend some time outdoors. However, if you’re new to the game, or if it’s been a while since you’ve played, you’ll need to take the time to break in your football correctly. A leather football needs to be worked in before it can be used effectively.

Why Should You Break in a Leather Football??

Leather footballs are not always easy to break-in. They can be challenging and resistant to change. However, it is essential to break in a leather football if you want it to have the best performance possible. Here are a few reasons why you should break in your leather football:

1. It Will Be More Comfortable to Play With.

A leather football that has been appropriately broken in will be softer and more comfortable to play with. This is because the ball will give more, making it less likely to cause pain or blisters when you catch it or kick it.

2. It Will Be Easier to Control.

A leather football will be a lot easier to control than a synthetic one. This is because synthetic ones tend to be a lot more slippery. With a leather football, you will have more grip on the ball and control it better.

3. It Will Last Longer.

Leather footballs also last longer than synthetic footballs. This is because they don’t absorb water like synthetic ones do. They will also keep their shape better over time.

If you are looking for an improved experience when playing football, then using a leather football is the way to go. Not only will it be easier to control, but it will also last longer. So, make sure you break in your new leather football properly and enjoy the game!

What You’ll Need

  • Warm Water
  • Bowl or Bucket
  • Soap
  • Sponge
  • Shoe Polish Brush
  • Wax
  • Leather Conditioner
  • Shaving Cream (Optional)

How to Break in a Leather Football Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Dye Removal

Before you start breaking in your new leather football, remove the dye. This process will require some warm water, soap, and a sponge. First, soak the football in the bowl or bucket of warm water for about 15 minutes. Then add a little bit of soap to the water and scrub the football. Be sure to get all of the dye off of the ball’s surface. If there are any stubborn areas, you can use a toothbrush to help remove them.

Soak the Football in the Bowl of Warm Water

Step 2: Drying

After you have removed the dye, you need to dry the football. Use a clean towel to pat the ball dry. Do not use any heat source to help speed up the drying process, as this can damage the leather.

Use Shaving Cream (optional)

If you want, you can use shaving cream to help soften the leather. First, apply a thin layer of shaving cream to the surface of the football and rub it in with your hands. Let the shaving cream sit on the ball for about 10 minutes. Then rinse it off with warm water and dry it with a towel.

Step 3: Brushing

Now it’s time to get started on the breaking-in process. But before you do, you need to give the ball a good cleaning. First, use a shoe polish brush to scrub all dirt and debris off the ball’s surface. Next, be sure to get into all of the cracks and crevices.

Use a shoe polish brush to scrub the ball

Step 4: Applying Conditioner

The next step is to apply some leather conditioner to the ball. You can buy a commercial leather conditioner or make your own by mixing some beeswax and olive oil. Apply a thin layer of the conditioner to the surface of the football and rub it in with your hands. Let the conditioner sit on the ball for about 10 minutes.

After applying the conditioner, you need to let the ball dry for 24 hours. Do not apply any heat source to help speed up the drying process, as this can damage the leather.

Step 6: Time to Brush Again

Now that the ball has had a chance to dry, it’s time to brush it again. Use a shoe polish brush to scrub all of the conditioners off the ball’s surface. Be sure to get into all of the cracks and crevices.

Step 7: Applying Wax

After a few weeks of breaking in your football, it’s essential to apply a layer of wax or oil to help protect the leather and keep it hydrated. This will also help to make the ball easier to grip and catch. You can either use a commercial leather conditioner or make your own by mixing one part linseed oil with three parts beeswax. Apply the wax or oil liberally to the entire surface of the ball, using a soft cloth to rub it in. Let it dry completely before using.

Apply the Wax to the Entire Surface

Step 8: The Break-in Process

Now it’s time to start using the ball. The best way to break in a leather football is to use it in a game-like setting. For example, throw it around with your friends or play touch football. Make sure to catch and throw it in all different weather conditions, as this will help condition the leather. The more you use the ball, the softer it will become. These steps will help in how to break in a leather football.

Leather footballs are an excellent option for those who want an authentic experience while playing the game. And by following these simple steps, you can have a soft and durable ball that will last for years.


  • Condition the leather. Before using the ball, you’ll want to condition it so that it’s soft and more receptive to your grip. Apply a light coat of petroleum jelly or oil to the ball and rub it in with a cloth. This will help keep the ball supple and protect it from drying out and cracking.
  • Warm-up first. It’s essential to warm up before playing football, and the same goes for breaking in a new ball. Spend 10-15 minutes tossing the ball around slowly, gradually picking up the intensity. This will help loosen up the leather and make it easier to shape.
  • Don’t overdo it. It’s tempting to go all out when breaking in a new ball, but you need to be careful. Excessive force can damage the leather and make it more challenging to grip. Instead, take your time and go easy, gradually increasing the intensity as the ball becomes more flexible.
  • Play with it. The best way to break in a new football is to use it in actual games. Play as much as you can, and the ball will start to soften up and take on your playing style. Just be sure not to abuse it or risk damaging the leather.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does This Process Work for Official Nfl Footballs?

The process described in this article should work for both official NFL footballs and other leather footballs. However, it’s important to note that the NFL does have specific requirements for how their footballs must be treated. Therefore, if you want to break into an NFL football, it’s best to consult with the league or an authorized dealer.

Can I Buy a Football Already Broken in?

It is possible to purchase a football that has already been broken in. This can be an excellent option for those new to the game or those who do not have the time to break in a football themselves. Several retailers offer pre-broken footballs, and many of them are affordable options.

Do All Footballs Need to Be Broken in?

There’s a lot of debate over whether or not footballs need to be broken in. Some people say that all footballs must be broken in before they can be used in a game, while others believe this is only necessary for new leather footballs. So, what’s the truth?

Well, it depends on your preference. If you prefer a softer football, you’ll want to break in your ball. This will help to soften up the leather and make it more comfortable to catch and throw. On the other hand, if you prefer a harder ball, you may not need to break it in at all.

Soften Up the Leather


Leather football is one of the most popular items in sports. It has been around for over a century and continues to be used today. Although it may seem simple, more goes into making a leather football than meets the eye. To ensure that you are getting the best quality football, it is essential to know what to look for when purchasing one. By following these steps on how to break in a leather football, you can be sure to get a ball that will last longer and provide you with hours of fun.

You may also like – How to fix peeling leather bag.

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Matt Clark

Hi, this is Matt, and I am a leathercraft hobbyist. I have been working with leather for quite a bit of time. When I was a teenager, my father taught me the basics of leathercraft. Along the way I have learned a lot of things about leather work leather items, restoring leather, and creating leather accessories. I started this blog to share my knowledge of leatherworking with others and help people learn about this amazing craft. I also wanted to create a community of like-minded people who could share ideas and support each other in their leatherworking journey.

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