Soccer balls are the main piece of equipment used in soccer. All soccer balls may look the same to the untrained eye, but that is far from the truth. There are soccer balls made for many different uses. Read on to learn more about these different types of soccer balls, top brands, and what you should take into consideration before buying one.
What are soccer balls used for?
The soccer ball is the most important piece of equipment pertaining to the sport of soccer. Without a ball, it is impossible to play. While all soccer balls may appear the same in regard to everything but color, this is not true. There are balls made for different surfaces, competition levels, and age groups.
Soccer balls come in different sizes, ranging from size 1 to size 5. The size of the ball used is determined by age and competition level. The size 5 ball is the one you see while watching professional soccer on television. Soccer balls are also produced with different materials. The materials used are made specifically for the type of playing surface, competition level, practice vs. game, and indoor vs. outdoor play. There are also many different soccer ball manufacturers, a few of which are widely recognizable in the sports equipment field.
Things To Consider
When looking for soccer balls, you'll want to consider the following:
- Will you be playing indoors or outdoors?
- What surfaces will you be playing on?
- How much are you looking to spend on a soccer ball?
- What level of soccer do you play?
What are you looking for in a soccer ball?
- Use in game
- Use for practice
- Outdoor use
- Indoor use
- For skill training
There are a few different types of soccer balls used for varying levels of competition or playing surfaces. These include the official match, premium match, indoor, turf, and training soccer balls. It is wise to purchase a ball specific to one's skill level or training purpose.
If you are playing high school or college soccer, chances are the ball you are using is an official match ball. These balls are high-quality and are known to be reasonably durable. Official match balls must have a circumference between 27 and 28 inches, with a pre-game weight between 14 and 16 ounces. These balls must have a leather or synthetic leather cover, and there are no color restrictions.
- More durable than premium match balls
- NCAA and NFHS approved
- Good control
- Less durable than practice balls
- Not approved by all professional competition
- More expensive than practice balls
Premium match soccer balls are the top-of-the-line balls. These are the balls used in all the major professional soccer leagues. Premium match balls are FIFA-approved, which means that they have achieved the highest ranking possible. These balls are typically made from synthetic leather, which prevents water absorption, and are meant to be played on firm ground.
- Increased control
- Shape retention
- FIFA approved
- Consistent flight
- Low durability
Indoor soccer balls are specially designed balls intended for indoor use only. Like the other types, indoor balls come in sizes 1-5, but they are made of a felt-like material instead of synthetic leather or other materials. Indoor balls are made for hardwood floors, and they do not bounce as high as traditional outdoor balls. These soccer balls typically cost between $20-$50.
- Reduced bounce
- Softer feel
- Perfect for hardwood floors
- Not feasible for outdoor use
- Felt is prone to pilling
Artificial surfaces tend to wear on soccer balls more than natural grass. The ball also bounces higher and is exposed to higher temperatures in warm weather. To combat these problems, the major ball manufacturers produce balls specific to turf fields. These balls are usually hand-stitched with the traditional 32 panels and made of polyurethane or similar synthetic covers. Prices of turf balls will vary, but high-quality balls will cost about $30-$60.
- Excellent durability
- Relatively inexpensive
- Well suited for hot playing conditions
- Not suitable for outdoor play
- May be too firm for some players
Training soccer balls are made to feel similar to game balls, but they will be less expensive and more durable. These balls are typically made of synthetic materials, such as thermoplastic polyurethane. Once inflated, these balls maintain their shape for long periods of time, even with extended use. The more expensive practice balls will feel soft to the touch in order to mimic game balls.
- Retains air for a long time
- More affordable than match balls
- Unable to use in competition
- May be hard to the touch
A wide variety of different companies produce soccer balls, however some of the most noteworthy brands are Adidas, Nike, and Puma.
Adidas is one of the most recognizable brands in sports equipment, so it is not a surprise to see them as the leaders in soccer gear. Their soccer balls are known to provide high-quality performance for both beginners and professionals alike. Adidas is the official provider for the FIFA World Cup ball and the official MLS match ball. Whatever type of soccer ball you need, Adidas has a product to meet those needs.
Nike, arguably the most identifiable name in sports equipment, is a major brand in soccer equipment. Nike has been the official ball supplier to the Premier League since 2000 and also currently supplies the NWSL with its official game ball. Nike makes quality soccer balls for all types of competitions and training in a wide price range to fit every budget.
Puma is another large sports equipment manufacturer that produces top-quality soccer balls in a wide range of sizes, colors, and designs. They currently produce the official match ball of La Liga. Puma makes a wide range of balls at an affordable price, with versatility for all playing conditions. A good majority of Puma’s soccer balls are offered at a price point between $15 and $25.
How much do soccer balls cost?
Quality soccer balls are available at a wide range of prices. The balls differ in price due to the materials used in constructing the bladder as well as the cover. Highly rated balls can be purchased for about $15. These types of balls usually consist of plastic elastomer outer shells that offer good durability and maintain roundness. Mid-priced balls are typically made of rubber or thermoplastic polyurethane. These balls offer good durability and feel at a price around $50-$85. With leather outer shells used in top competitions, premier soccer balls can cost over $150.
What kind of soccer balls are used in the World Cup?
The FIFA World Cup is the very top level of competition in soccer. The ball used is a premium match ball, which is a size 5 ball with a circumference of 27-28 inches. Adidas has been the official supplier of FIFA World Cup balls since 1970. The most recent World Cup featured the Adidas Telstar 18 as its official ball.
How do you know what size soccer ball you need?
Size 5 is the ball we typically see while watching soccer on television or playing at a high level. These balls are 27-28 inches in circumference and used in competition by players age 12 and up. The size 4 ball is specified for use by youth levels, ages 8 to 12, and is two inches smaller. Size 3 balls are 23-24 inches and made for use by junior players, age 8 and under. Size 1 balls, 18 to 20 inches, are made specifically for skill training by players of all ages.