How can I find the right soccer ball?

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).

Soccer Balls

Size Circumference Ages Used
5 27 - 28 in 12 and up
4 25 - 26 in 8 to 12
3 23 - 24 in 8 and under
1 18 - 20 in Small children

Futsal Balls

Size Circumference Ages Used
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)

  • Three levels: FIFA Basic, FIFA Quality, FIFA Quality Pro
  • Balls used in international FIFA sanctioned competitions must meet this criteria
  • Only the highest quality balls are FIFA approved
  • FIFA.com states: "The FIFA Quality Programme for Footballs is a test programme for outdoor, futsal and beach soccer balls. Manufacturers can enter into a licensing agreement to use the prestigious FIFA Quality Pro and FIFA Quality marks on footballs that have passed a rigorous testing procedure. The FIFA Quality Programme tests are used to assess footballs under laboratory conditions, subjecting them to even tougher conditions than they will probably ever endure during a normal game. Only balls that pass these tests receive one of the FIFA quality marks: FIFA Quality or the even higher standard, FIFA Quality Pro. How does a ball receive a FIFA mark? A ball must successfully pass the seven tests described in detail on this website to earn the FIFA Quality mark. The tests check the ball’s weight, circumference, roundness, bounce, water absorption, loss of pressure and shape and size retention. To gain the top FIFA Quality Pro mark, a ball must pass these seven tests under even more demanding conditions."

IMS (International Matchball Standard)

  • Old standard, replaced by FIFA Basic and FIFA Quality certifications
  • 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. Check out our full range of soccer balls here!

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Greg Nelson

Greg Nelson

Great tips. I have seen a similar guide on Soccer Garage.com which has been helpful. I didn’t realize there were many differences between balls (other than the size).

Levi Armstrong

Levi Armstrong

It’s good to know that latex soccer balls are softer than butyl ones, plus it gives the ball a proper bounce. Since early this year, my son has been asking for a soccer ball, so I plan to buy one as a Christmas gift. I’ll take note of your advice and probably buy one with a latex bladder. Thanks! https://www.hologearco.com/collections/best-sellers/products/holographic-soccer

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