How To: Inflate Any Ball Without a Pump or Needle

Inflate Any Ball Without a Pump or Needle

How to Inflate Any Ball Without a Pump or Needle

What happens when you find your ball deflated and there's no pump or needle in sight? You could always cancel your plans of kicking around the soccer ball or tossing the old pigskin. Or, you could be a badass and use one of these handy tricks to pump up that ball.

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Compressed Air

If you haven't already wasted your entire supply blasting your friends in the face with freezing cold compressed air or trying to get high...

You can use this standard office item to fill up a deflated ball. The most difficult part about inflating a ball without a pump or needle is finding something that will fit inside the small air hole. So, a compressed air canister is the perfect solution.

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The small needle will fit inside the air hole and you can blast air into the ball with ease. I'd suggest doing small bursts of air since the can will chill up rather quickly. This probably won't work if the ball is completely flat, and it would be pretty expensive to keep using this trick, so make sure it's just a one-time thing.


You can also use a balloon to inflate a ball, as long as you have something to pass the air between the two. If you've got a pump that's broken, the needle from it is ideal, but you could also use a thin straw or coffee stirrer. The bigger and thicker the balloon, the better.

Blow up the balloon as much as possible, using a paperclip or clamp to keep the air from escaping. Now, attach the pump needle or straw to the balloon and insert it into the hole in the ball. When you release the paperclip or clamp, the air will transfer from the balloon to the ball.

For the full tutorial with more details and a video showing the process, check out this article. The balloon can easily burst, though, so watch out.

Ink Pen

If you don't have a pump needle or straw, you can use the ink tube from a standard pen as a makeshift needle. You'll also want to have a paperclip, scissors and tape on hand. After you've dismantled your pen, drain the ink tube and remove the writing point. Make sure to keep the writing cap (a plastic one should work as well).

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Next, use the scissors to cut a small piece out of the ink tube to place into the writing cap. This will act as the entry point into your pump.

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You can then use a lubricated paper clip to help expand the air hole in the ball. Carefully push the straightened paper clip into the hole and gently push against the sides. Doing this will help make it easier to insert your makeshift needle into the ball.

The finished product should look something like this:

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For the complete process and more images, take a look at the photo guide by Wendel F. on Flickr.

Gas Station

I've had my fair share of flat tires and make sure to always have a few quarters in my car just for that. Many gas stations have air pumps that you can use for 50 cents to fill up your deflated tires. But, if you have the needle, you can use these powerful pumps to inflate a bunch of balls before you time runs out.

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Just make sure there isn't someone with an actual flat waiting behind you!

Bike Store

You can call into you local bike repair store or shop and see if they would be willing to use a bike pump to inflate a ball or two for you. Assuming they're not busy, a lot of local shops will be more than happy to help out.

I called in today and my man Mike at the Beverly Hills Bike Shop said that one of the associates would pump up my ball, no problem. Of course, out of courtesy you should at least buy something small if you can. I grabbed a new reflector while I was there—I felt like I owed him one.

Tire Hacking

If all else fails, you can always borrow a little air from a healthy looking car tire with the right tools. You'll need a pump needle, exit valve, and a few adapters.

Needless to say, you should use your own car for this. Your neighbors probably wouldn't be very happy to walk outside and find you stealing air out of their tires.

You can find the complete list of what you will need for this "project" here.


To prevent encountering this problem in the future, you may want to invest in one of these.

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Most of the major ball makers are now building pumps right into the balls, whether it's a basketball, football, or soccer ball. All you need to do is pull on the rubber top to open the pump, then pump the device up and down until you are satisfied with your ball's firmness. It's as simple as that.

I'm pretty sure I came up with this idea when I was a kid, but never acted on it—and I could have been a millionaire. For shame...

Got any other tips or methods that we might have missed? Let us know in the comments section.

Images via Mike O'Dowd, Cloganese, Alex Zakkas, Whiteboard


Compressed air is the best choice by far. But, not every one has that laying around. At least, not in the form that they might be thinking. In a pinch, you can take any aerosol product, turn it upside down and spray it for a couple seconds until the substance stops coming out. Ta-da! You have compressed air (gas). Fair warning, this is not oxygen and it "can be known to the state of California," well, you get the point. You can also use this method to clean the tip of the nozzle. Very useful for ensuring longevity of a spray paint can.

the california part got me weak though.

Wow thanks the compressed air helped me fill up my football :)

Can I pump my basketball at gas station. Does the needle fit in the basket ball

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