Finding the right soccer ball can be a real challenge. With scores of brands, wildly varying price points, and literally countless variations it is understandable that many people are left with their head spinning when trying to find the best one for them.
Lucky for you, we’re here to help! Here is a quick round-up of the 5 most important things to look for when selecting the perfect soccer ball for you.
1 – Size
Soccer balls range from 1-5. Size 5 is the largest and is designed for older youth and adults. Size 1 is the smallest and is designed for the youngest players and is commonly used for promotional purposes, or as a skill development ball for players of any age. Here is a chart outlining each size, measurements, and general ages used (click the rows below to view our selection in that size).
||27 – 28 in
||12 and up
||25 – 26 in
||8 to 12
||23 – 24 in
||8 and under
||18 – 20 in
|Senior (size 4)
||25 – 26 in
||13 and up
|Junior (size 3)
||23 – 24 in
||12 and under
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to check with your school or club to make sure the size you buy is the correct one for you.
2 – Cover Construction
The outer layer of construction of each soccer ball is known as the cover and is made using a synthetic leather of PU (polyurethane) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Better ball covers are usually constructed with PU. Some lower-end training balls are made using PVC.
The most common panel construction is 32 panel. Some modern balls have an 18 or 26 panel design. 32 panel balls offer a more true flight whereas other options can create more ‘swerve’ when kicked with force.
Balls of the highest quality have their panels hand-stitched. Machine stitching is usually found on middle-quality balls. Low-end balls used for training, recreation, or promotion often have their panels glued or molded which creates a harder feel.
3 – Lining
There are usually many layers of lining between the cover and the bladder which create strength. A foam layer is often included to add softness. This feature often differentiates the high quality ball from the low quality ball.
4 – Bladder Type
There are two main types of bladders used in construction of soccer balls:
- Latex – gives the ball a proper bounce, and is softer
- Butyl – excellent air retention
Latex bladders will naturally lose air faster than butyl. Whereas a butyl bladder can retain air for a couple of weeks, a latex bladder needs to be topped off at least weekly.
Futsal bladders are filled with foam to dampen their bouncing characteristics.
5 – Soccer Ball Standards
There are three approvals you should be aware of when purchasing a soccer ball as your ball might need to meet their specifications for use in a competition.
NFHS (National Federation of High School Associations)
- Balls used in American high school competitions must be NFHS approved
FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association)
- Balls used in international FIFA sanctioned competitions must meet this criteria
- Only the highest quality balls are FIFA approved
IMS (International Matchball Standard)
- Balls that pass a less stringent testing process can be IMS approved
- Many moderate to high quality balls bear the IMS logo
We hope this provides you with a solid base of information to help make your hunt for the right soccer ball a little easier.