How To Choose The Right Soccer Ball

  • Soccer balls come in three sizes: 3, 4 & 5
  • Size 3 balls are for children less than eight years old
  • Size 4 balls, which are slightly bigger and heavier, are meant for kids up to 13 years old
  • Size 5 balls are for teens and adults

Inner Construction

  • The Bladder—The bladder is the very inner portion of the ball that holds the air. The stronger the bladder, the less likely a ball is to leak, which causes a ball to lose its feel and resiliency.
    • Butyl bladders are more durable, responsive and better at retaining air. You will typically find that balls with butyl bladders are sold in the middle to high price range.
    • Latex bladders, which are soft and more responsive, have a problem with leakage. You will need to refill them at least once a week, something that most players will abhor because it is a hassle.
  • The Lining—The lining, the material that lies between the bladder and cover, may be made of polyester, cotton, foam or other cushioning filler. It has several purposes:
    • To give the ball a better, more spherical shape. The rounder the ball, the more accurate a player’s kick will be time after time.
    • More lining creates a bouncier feel and more responsive touch; two qualities that make a ball better to play with.
    • For a longer lifetime, the lining of a ball is increased.
    • Typically, pro balls will have four layers or more while practice balls may only have one or two.

Outer Construction

  • The Cover—Synthetic leather covers make up the majority of the soccer ball market, although full grain leather was used in the past. The reason for the switch is that leather absorbs water, and the more water a ball absorbs, the heavier it gets. Balls should remain light and bouncy so that players don’t have to exert more force to propel the ball forward.
    • There are two types of synthetic covers and you’ll see that they make all the difference in the cost of a ball.
    • For practice, PVC (poly vinyl chloride) is the most durable and are quite common because they are inexpensive.
    • Durable PU balls (polyurethane) are the more expensive and are what the better players prefer. These are certainly the best choice for game play balls since they have a nice feel and better responsiveness.
  • The Stitching—A ball’s stitching is what holds together the 32 pentagonal and hexagonal panels that make up a ball’s outer surface. The tighter and more securely wound the stitching is, the longer the ball will hold up.
    • Glued panes are typically the least expensive and are commonly found on practice balls.
    • Machine-stitched balls don’t hold up as well as hand-stitched balls. Nonetheless, hand-stitched balls, due to the time required to construct them, cost more.
    • Thermally molded panels are found on some of the newer soccer balls, especially those that are used for professional purposes.
    • For the best quality ball, go for one stitched with 5-ply polyester thread, which is the strongest type.
    • Kevlar reinforcement also helps improve the durability of the stitching.

Ball Type

  • There are basically three types of balls to choose from: practice soccer balls, match balls, and premium match balls. The difference between these balls lies in their feel and durability.
    • Practice balls, meant to withstand hour after hour of grueling practice, are rated exceptionally well for their strength, durability, and air retention. They are also versatile, capable of being played on most any surface without problems.
    • Match balls are medium to high-grade balls that are acceptable for match games or advanced training. Their strong points are durability and responsiveness.
    • Premium match balls are the highest quality, meeting international standards on various levels. These balls have the best shape (nearly perfectly round), high air retention, the correct size and weight, and excellent responsiveness.