The game of soccer has evolved greatly over the years and the ball has evolved with it. In days past, defenses played with as many as six men back. Then things changed around the 1950s to allow when many teams played four forwards at one time! Now, we are in a period where we see (sometimes) one natural forward in a team. The changes that have happened in the game have oftentimes been a result of the changes to the soccer ball itself. Through its many changes, it has allowed teams to change strategies.
Yesterday’s balls had stitches and seams in them like American footballs have! They slowly transitioned away from that to the classic black and white soccer ball. From there, we saw the invention of panels. And finally today, we are left with the maneuverability of multi-panels and other technologies which allow the ball to fly quicker, bend more, and dip harder. In addition to these changes, another simple fact that should be noted is that the fact has become softer over time. This allows players to be able to kick the ball further and not risk injury.
Today’s generation of the ball allows teams to be more accurate with their passing and their shots, leading to a myriad of strategies being employed. Some simply wait and try to shoot from way outside because of the wall the ball flies. Others use the ball on the ground. Whichever way, we are certainly all lucky to be able to use today’s technology in our games! There are a few things to consider when buying a soccer ball. There are various sizes, materials, qualities, and levels of play which will help determine which one you need for your specific purposes.
Top 10 Soccer Ball Chart
Best Youth Soccer Ball Sizes
Sizing is very important in selecting a soccer ball. For the purposes of this article, I will mostly concentrate on size 5 outdoor soccer balls, but I will quickly go over the various sizes and let you know what they are used for. Size 1 soccer balls, or skill balls (also known as mini balls), are primarily used by youth players that are just being introduced to the game. These are typically 1-3-year-olds. Another use for Size 1 balls is for older players to learn to juggle. It is much harder to juggle a size 1, so instead of using a hacky sack, they use a skill ball. This is done because the texture and materials are similar. Size 3 balls are slightly bigger than size 1 and are used for ages four through seven. They do this so that the ball isn’t too big in comparison to the players. Size 4 balls are used for age eight through eleven. Size 4s are smaller than size 5, which is used for everyone past the age of eleven. This is the same size that the professionals use. Making sure that you have the proper ball is just as important as picking out which materials one has.
Soccer Ball Materials
The outside of the soccer ball is typically made from one of two materials: PVC or Polyurethane. PVC is much more affordable and durable, and these are typically seen in training soccer balls because training balls go through much more of a continuous beating. Polyurethane balls are usually even softer than PVC balls and its ability to go where you want it to go is much better than the PVC balls. As a result, these are typically higher-end balls. However, there are still various ways to construct them, and not all PVC or polyurethane balls are created the same. Glossy coatings, which are very popular in the public fields with the kids and adults alike, are also very useful because they help reduce scuffing and the intake of water.
The bladder, or the inside, of the soccer ball, is also very important to talk about. There are typically only two choices that they are made out of butyl and latex. The higher-end balls usually are latex while butyl is typically meant for training balls. However, butyl is much better at keeping the air and shape of the ball for longer periods!
We covered the quality in small detail above, but we’ll look into a little further here. The quality of the ball you pick is very important. If you want exactly what the pros play with, then you will have to pay a little more as a result of picking the premium choice. Those balls fly better and more true than their counterparts, but they are not meant to be practiced with on a regular basis. Premium balls tend to have a softer impact on both your cleats and ankle guards to allow for more ball control and handling. After the “premium” match ball category is the “match ball” category. These aren’t nearly as expensive as the premiums are, but are still very good in match situations. These aren’t meant for practice, but they typically can hold up for extended periods of time, possibly a season or two. The third type is “training balls.” These balls are meant for training and practice, and they can be used continuously without doing damage to it. I have some great training balls that have lasted upwards of six years! The quality of training balls has gone up drastically over the years that I have been playing. When I was younger, some of them were so hard that you’d feel like your foot was broken after kicking them. Nowadays, they literally feel like a premium ball with their softness and their flight. So, almost any ball is great nowadays from the right supplier!
Different Balls for Different Skill Levels
This is a decision being made by a league operator or manager of some sort, this section is important for you. For the individual, there isn’t much of a determination here. If you want something really nice like the pros, go premium. But if not, then you probably will just want to go with a training ball. But for people equipping their teams with materials, this is a decision that needs to be taken seriously. I would suggest that recreational leagues stick with training match balls, even for matches. The number of kicks that the ball will get and the improper technique will cause headaches for you if you decide to buy premium balls. For high schools, I suggest just regular match balls as many are still learning the basics of the game and many teams simply play “kickball” at that age. For college teams, semi-pros, serious travel clubs, and of course, professional teams, I suggest premium match balls for play!
Best Soccer Ball Reviews
Adidas Finale 15 UEFA Champions League Hi-Vis
This ball is a premium match ball from Adidas, whom I consider to be the best of the best at making soccer balls. This is a high-visibility ball, coming in a bright orange, to help teams just in case of inclement conditions such as rain or possibly snow. This ball has the highest possible rating from FIFA because of its seamless makeup and its latex bladder which allow for excellent rebound in your shot. The seamless panels also allow it to take in very little water, making this an excellent buy if you are looking for a premium match ball.
Mikasa D49 Soccer Ball
That Mikasa ranks #2 on the list comes as no surprise to me as I have had great experiences with Mikasa. This is a great mid-range soccer ball that falls into the match ball category. Many users have claimed that they have been able to play with these balls for a couple of seasons! That’s unheard of for most soccer balls because the stitching begins to come off. This is a FIFA Approved Professional ball, meaning that it is up to the standards of professional players. This is rare to see an approved ball for this price. This is a great mid-range ball to have.
Adidas Euro 2016 Official Match Ball
Much like the Adidas ball we saw earlier, this offering from Adidas is top-of-the-line. This a premium match ball that also has received the highest rating from FIFA. To get that rating, it passed tests on its weight, how it retains air, the shape, and how well it keeps water out. It also has seamless panels like the Hi-Vis Champions League ball. Although not a cheap ball, this is worth a look if you are interested I premium match balls.
Select Royale Soccer Ball
As an International Match Standard and NFHS (high school) and NCAA-approved ball, this one gets a lot of play out of high schools and colleges in the United States. And for good reason. Every time I played with a select ball, I knew what to expect and I got each and every time. Coming in a number of colors, this ball can be tailored to match your team while still looking classy with the white to contrast it. It has a latex bladder and is hand-stitched. This is a premium match soccer ball for the price of a practice ball. Definitely a ball to consider looking into.
Adidas Ace Glider lI Soccer Ball
This is much like the kind of balls that I often buy and play with. This is a training ball, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that means it is low quality. It is machine stitched, meaning it is mass-produced and has a nylon interior, making the ball last a long time as you practice and do your daily drills. It also has a butyl bladder and is polyurethane so that it will stay inflated longer. It has a really catchy green and black design and I’m sure all the kids would absolutely love to have this ball (or two) for the great price!
Adidas Performance Messi Soccer Ball
You just can’t avoid the name of Lionel Messi in the soccer world anymore! And with this ball, Adidas promises to make you like Messi. Like the last ball, it has a nylon interior and is machine stitched. It also has a butyl bladder so that it retains air better. While this ball is surely a good option, it is a little pricey. The name alone probably drives it up, but if you’re a Messi fan it may well be worth it to you! And oh, it also looks like a ball from Pokemon!
Nike PSG Prestige Ball
A tribute to one of the richest teams in the world, Paris St. Germain, this ball is dressed in their colors. This is a ball meant for everyday use, so you can get out there and show off your favorite club to everyone. It is made from polyurethane and has some polyester inside of it, making it slightly different than the Messi ball. The polyester buttresses the butyl bladder, causing it to retain air and shape. It is machine stitched and has 26 panels, so it may take a little bit of getting used to the first time. Like the Messi ball, it comes at a pretty steep price, so it may be a little pricey if you aren’t a PSG fan!
Wilson Official NCAA Forte Fybrid
Wilson is a great supplier for high schools and colleges, much like Select, and this ball will continue that legacy. Its fused panel and new “hybrid” technology help lower the amount of water that enters the ball, thus allowing it to be much more durable. It claims to have 32 “premium” panels that give you a flight that you can control and predict as well as equal airflow throughout its surface. It is also a highly visible orange, so it will turn a few heads. Combine that with a very reasonable price, and this is an overall great soccer ball for student-athletes.
Senda Valor Club Soccer Ball
I’ll be honest right out of the gate in saying that I don’t have any experience with Senda. But after looking at this ball, I will have to try one out soon! Senda brings a very classic look to its ball, giving you a throwback to days gone by. It has 32 panels and claims that it can be used outdoors, indoors, and on turf. It is hand stitched with premium leather and has four layers of hybrid polyester and cotton linings between the cover and the bladder to help it last longer. It is NHFS approved with its latex bladder, so it would be great for use in high school matches. And especially considering it’s low cost.
Puma Evopower 6.3 Training Soccer Ball
Rounding out our list is just a good old, cool-looking training ball from the people over at Puma. This ball comes will three distinct colors on it. Black is in the middle of pink and yellow, so this would be an absolute dream for the soccer-loving girl in your life! It is machine stitched for durability and a very soft feel. It holds up for extended periods of time and does so starting at a very low price, so take a look for yourself!