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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

40 Models Considered
24 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
99 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best glow-in-the-dark footballs

Although the first night football game was played in 1892, night games were rare in the early decades of football. These days, night football games are commonplace at all levels of play.

Perhaps your kids want to emulate the stars they watch during Friday Night Lights high school games or Sunday and Monday Night Football NFL games. However, rather than tackling the expense of installing large floodlights in your backyard, you can purchase a glow-in-the-dark football, giving the kids an easy way to play night football.

A glow-in-the-dark football uses either an LED embedded inside the football or a phosphor chemical compound in the ball. This glow allows players to spot the ball during nighttime games. As with other footballs, they vary in their size and weight, so you should choose a football that will be comfortable for your kids to catch and throw.

These footballs are designed more as toys than as high-quality regulation footballs, so don’t expect to see a glow-in-the-dark football at your favorite NFL game any time soon. Still, they are fun to use and stand up to abuse better than you may think. Continue reading to learn more about the various glow-in-the-dark footballs available for backyard play.

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Glow-in-the-dark footballs will look similar to traditional footballs when used in the daytime, so they work at day or at night.

Glow-in-the-dark style

As you begin shopping for glow-in-the-dark footballs, you’ll find two types of designs used to create the signature glow.


Footballs that seem to glow from within the ball will consist of an LED light in the middle of the ball that is powered by batteries.

An LED glow-in-the-dark football does not need to be placed in natural light to “charge” like a phosphor ball. Instead, it’s powered by one or more batteries.

The LEDs are often red or orange in color, making them easy to spot, though other colors like blue and green are available as well.

Motion sensor
This type of glow-in-the-dark football will often have a motion sensor inside it. When the ball is in motion, the sensor activates the light for 20 to 30 seconds. If the ball is not moving, the light turns off, which preserves battery power.

The batteries required by LED glow-in-the-dark footballs are often button cell batteries. Occasionally, you’ll find models that require AAA batteries, but a smaller battery is generally better since it reduces the overall weight of the football.

Light modes
Some LED footballs may have different light modes including strobe or pulse modes. While these certainly don’t make keeping an eye on the ball any easier, they can be tons of fun.


A phosphor chemical compound in glow-in-the-dark footballs can create a soft glow without the added weight or expense of batteries. Phosphors become energized when exposed to light, including sunlight and even light from light bulbs. Then, when the external light is no longer present, you can see the glow.

This is a different mechanism than is used in items like glow sticks, which glow as a result of the mixing of chemicals inside the stick.

For toys like glow-in-the-dark footballs, a common phosphor compound is strontium aluminate. This compound provides a greater level of glow for a longer period of time compared to phosphor compounds used in the past.

The compounds can be mixed with plastic to allow the football to glow. If a phosphor compound is in use, it typically will create a light green or green-blue color.

Phosphors are safe to use in toys. They don’t require any active mixing of chemicals to use, nor do they contain any elements that give off light using radioluminescence — they’re not radioactive.


Glow-in-the-dark footballs share quite a few of the same features and specifications as regulation leather footballs.


Glow-in-the-dark footballs are available in many different sizes, aimed at players of varying ages.

A regulation-size ball is made for high school and adult players, measuring 21 to 22 inches in circumference.

Youth-size balls are 19 to 20 inches in circumference and are made for kids ages 12 to 14, while junior-size footballs are 17.5 to 18.5 inches in circumference for kids ages 10 to 12. For even younger children, mini football sizes are available too.


A regulation-size football weights 14 to 15 ounces, while youth footballs weigh 12 to 13 ounces and junior footballs weigh 10 to 11 ounces. Keep in mind that if the football uses LEDs and a battery to create the glow, it may throw off the weight from what you’d find with a regulation ball.


While a regulation football is made of leather or synthetic leather, a glow-in-the-dark football often will consist of rubber or a rubber-plastic mix. These materials are cover the air bladder in the middle. Some glow-in-the-dark footballs consist of a firm foam that has a little give to it but is easy to grip.

Glow-in-the-dark football prices

Glow-in-the-dark footballs usually cost less than standard footballs, largely because they don’t consist of expensive leather materials. But it costs a bit more than a basic child’s rubber football.

Simple glow-in-the-dark footballs that use phosphor to create the glow will cost $8 to $25. Some LED models designed for small children may be found in this range.

For a battery-powered LED glowing football, you can expect to pay from $15 to $35. Footballs on the higher end of this range may be regulation size.


You may notice that your glow-in-the-dark football doesn’t deliver the same brightness every time. Here are some tips to help you get the brightest and longest glow from your football.

  • Let the ball soak up light in the day. Leave your phosphor football exposed to natural or artificial light all day. At night, the phosphors emit light clearly when in a dark setting. The phosphors emit light during the daylight too, but you can’t see the glow. If you know you will want to use the football on a certain night, leave it exposed to light for at least a few hours during the day. In addition, don’t store your football in a dark place if you expect to use it that night.
  • Keep fresh batteries on hand. If you notice the LED light in the ball is dimmer than usual, the batteries in the ball may need to be changed. Always having fresh batteries around means you won’t have to end the game early.
  • Kick and throw the ball as normal. Footballs are made to be kicked, thrown, and bounced on the ground, and glow-in-the-dark footballs are no exception. You can use these footballs in the same way you’d use a regulation football.
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A football’s shape, called a prolate spheroid, allows it to cut through the air, increasing the distance it can be thrown compared to a round ball.


Q. How do the laces on a glow-in-the-dark football differ from those on a regulation football?
Because glow-in-the-dark footballs are often made of rubber or foam, the laces on these footballs are often rubber or foam too. However, sometimes the laces on regulation footballs and glow-in-the-dark footballs are identical and are made of a durable nylon or leather.

Q. How should I care for my glow-in-the-dark football?
Wipe the football off after each use, removing water and mud. Do not leave the football exposed to weather or water for long periods of time.

Q. Can I replace the batteries in an LED glow-in-the-dark football?
With most models, the batteries are stored behind a removable panel. This means you can replace the batteries as needed. However, some LED glow-in-the-dark footballs have built-in batteries that cannot be replaced.

Q. Will a phosphor glow-in-the-dark football maintain its glow over time?
The glow in a phosphor football will fade within several minutes to a few hours after it is no longer exposed to light. Over time, the ball may not hold its glow as long as it did when new, but this usually doesn’t occur for a few years.

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