Best Soccer Balls
An essential equipment for playing soccer is the soccer ball, of course, you can’t play soccer without a ball. Well, how should you choose the right one when there are thousands of them out there?
Maybe you should just go and pick one based on the way how it looks? Keep in mind that most soccer balls look good and have a good design but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good quality. Let’s say you go and buy a good looking standard soccer ball and then decide to play on the street or on hard surfaces, the outcome will be that the ball is not going to last you more than 3 weeks, are you sure you want to do that? I’m sure you don’t and that’s why in this article I’ll talk about what is a soccer ball made of, the different sizes of soccer balls and their use, why there are so many different types of soccer balls and how to choose the right one for you and last but not less important how to take care and maintenance of them.
So first, what is a soccer ball made of?
Realizing how these components of a soccer ball function and their options will help you to easier choose a ball specifically for your requirements and needs.
Every soccer ball is made of four main parts/components:
The cover or the surface/the outermost part of the soccer ball nowadays Is being made of synthetic leather either Polyurethane(PU) or Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC). In the past, the cover of the soccer ball was made of generic leather but because the generic leather was absorbing water causing the ball to become heavier the producers switched to using synthetic leather. For playing matches where you want to have the feel for the ball and to have a control use ball which cover is made of Polyurethane(PU). It’s a little bit more expensive than the Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) and less durable but it provides a great feel for the ball, control and softness it’s almost like you can feel the leather. Just for practice, I recommend using balls which cover is made of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) because they are cheap and more durable.
The panels are the segments that you’ll see on the cover of the ball and they are different for each design. In the past the shape of the panels was octagonal but nowadays you can find panels in different shapes and designs. Today we have soccer balls with 6, 8, 14, 18, 26 and the official balls of FIFA containing 32 panels. The 32 panels balls are the most common. But why are the number of panels important? Well, soccer balls with fewer panels will make the ball faster and with a better curve while completely opposite soccer balls with more panels will provide more control. Panels are either stitched or glued.In the high-quality balls, the panels are stitched with polyester and are hand-stitched while in the lower quality(practice balls) the panels are glued.
The lining is basically the material used in the middle of the ball between the cover and the bladder and is used for shaping the ball and for creating the bounce of the ball.The ball can have multiple layers of lining made of polyester and/or cotton. When the ball has 4 or more layers of the lining (professional soccer ball) the ball structure and strength are better. In the cases of the balls for practice, they’ll have one layer of lining.
The bladder is the central part of the soccer ball that holds the air and they are usually made of either latex or butyl. Butyl bladders are used in less quality soccer balls but they’re able to keep the air longer meaning they’re easier to maintain while the latex bladders are used in high-quality balls and they’re proving better feel of the ball.
Different sizes of soccer balls
We have different sizes of soccer balls mainly because of the age group and the different ball requirements of different leagues. When you’re choosing soccer ball you need to get the proper size based on your age group and also based on the rules for ball size in the league you’ll be playing.
They are 3 different soccer ball sizes:
- Size 3 – These balls are the smallest size, they usually weight between 11-12 oz with a circumference of 23-24 inches and they are intended for children under 8 years old.
- Size 4 – These balls usually weight between 12-13 oz with a circumference of 25-26 inches and are intended for kids between 8- 12 years old
- Size 5 – The most common ball size is size 5 or all adults size also known as an international standard match ball, with a weight of between 14-16 oz and a circumference of 27-28 inches.
Different types of soccer balls and my recommendation
Professional Soccer Match Balls
These types of balls are the most expensive because they use the best materials(usually five or more layers of lining) and go through so many testings for quality, durability, shape, balance, control, water resistance, trajectory etc. They are size 5 and are used in UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera, Major League Soccer, Bundesliga, basically in all of the top international matches. The entity responsible for approving a soccer ball for Professional Soccer Matches is FIFA (Federation Internationale De Football Association) and they have their approval logo imprinted on the ball.
For my recommendation about Professional Soccer Match Balls check out my article about the cutting-edge soccer ball technology.
Official Match Soccer Balls
These types of balls are used in official soccer matches and they usually have imprinted logo of the entity that approved them which in most cases it’s either FIFA, National Federation of State High Schools Associations (NFHS) or National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). They are size 5, they are high-performance balls with usually 4 or 5 layers of lining which basically means they are of great quality really close to the quality of the professional soccer balls but cheaper and they’re more expensive than practice balls.
My Offical Match Soccer Balls recommendation:
Adidas UEFA Euro 2016 Official Match Soccer Ball
Is part of the EURO 2016 collection used by professional soccer players in the European Championship games.It has the Highest FIFA rating: ball passed tests on weight, water uptake, shape and size retention.
The Adidas Euro Qualifier Official Match Ball
Has High-end Materials In Cover, Backing, and Bladder For Perfect On-field Performance.It’s made of 100% Synthetic Polyurethane Leather and it has Passed Fifa Tests on the circumference, weight, rebound and water absorption.
The Adidas FIFA Confederations Cup Official Match Ball
Has thermally bonded seamless surface for more predictable trajectory, better touch, and lower water uptake.It’s a top game ball.
Soccer balls for training
These are one of the cheapest soccer balls, they are usually made of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) covers, they have 3 or fewer layers of lining and butyl bladder to keep the air longer. Training soccer balls are highly durable and really tough.
My Training Soccer Balls recommendation:
Mikasa Training Soccer Ball
Is the most durable ball for practicing/training soccer.This high-quality have a soft cover made of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) and butyl bladder for holding the air better and it’s the perfect choice for you.
Adidas MLS Top Training NFHS
Has passed FIFA tests on circumference, weight, rebound, and water absorption. High quality in combination with exceptional durability makes this ball outstanding.
Adidas Performance Champion’s League Finale
It has a special TPU exterior material designed to resist abrasion and last longer and butyl bladder for best air retention.
Street Soccer Balls
For playing on the streets or on concrete you’ll need tough and durable street soccer ball. For example, If you use some of the previously mentioned types of balls on concrete they won’t last long and in the opposite, if you use street soccer ball on soft, fine surfaces the feel for the ball and the bounce won’t be same.
My Street Soccer Balls recommendation:
Kixsports KixFriction Soccer Ball’s Patented Design
Is both a marvel of design and craftsmanship: 92 heavy-duty butyl rubber flaps are individually hand-sewn between every panel. The hand-sewn synthetic leather cover is maximizing the durability of this ball, this ball is built to withstand the harshest play in the streets.
Adidas Tango Street Soccer Ball
Is definitely one of the very best soccer balls for playing on hard surfaces. This ball is waterproof suitable for intense matches whatever the weather, it’s machine stitched and very durable and soft.
SISM Street Weapon – Pro Street Soccer Ball
Size 4 with a low bounce performance, butyl bladder for optimal air holding and designed for all surfaces.
Indoor Soccer Balls
For playing soccer indoor you’ll need special types of soccer balls who’s cover on most of them is made of the same material as the tennis ball created with the perfect bounce for indoor surfaces, turfs, and artificial grass.
My Indoor Soccer Balls recommendation:
Uber Soccer Indoor Soccer Ball
It’s made of high-quality felt which makes the ball perfect for indoor and more controllable on smooth surfaces and it has 32 hand-stitched panels which provide you with a soft kick feel.
Adidas Performance Tango
Is an indoor soccer ball with special TPU exterior material designed to resist abrasion and last longer and butyl bladder for best air retention and to keep the ball’s shape.
Futsal Soccer Balls
Futsal is played on a hard surface and that’s why the futsal soccer balls are made to have less bounce and to be heavier. They are usually size four balls but they’re heavier (they have the same weight as soccer size 5 balls) because their bladder is filled with foam instead of air.
My Futsal Soccer Balls recommendation:
Senda Rio Futsal Training Ball
Is best-in-the-class futsal ball with Polyurethane(PU) cover, it’s designed to have low bounce, and it’s hi-tech machine stitched which makes it really tight.
Baden Futsal Low Bounce Practice Ball
Is a low bounce ball which cover is made of advanced Polyurethane(PU) material, each panel is hand-sewed/stitched for increased precision and performance, and it has butyl bladder to ensure maximum air retention. This ball is USFF approved which means that it meets the U.S Futsal specifications.
Senda Vitoria DuoTech Match Futsal Soccer Ball
Is low bounce ball with a cover made of Polyurethane(PU), the panels are machine stitched and it has synthetic rubber bladder for extended air retention.
Is a great training and match ball for futsal. It has TPU cover with foam backing that offers a soft feel and excellent control. This ball has 32 panels which are hand-stitched for best performance.
Select Sport America Magico
Has a synthetic leather cover/surface for optimized low bounce and perfect control, comes with butyl bladder for better air retention and the 32 panels that this ball possess are hand-stitched.
Care and Maintenance of the soccer balls
Soccer balls just like any other product need to be taken care of if we want them to last longer. When it comes to taking care of them you should follow only one rule: always clean your ball after playing mostly for the sake of the stitches. And for maintenance always have a ball pump so you can keep the right pressure and air in it.