Best Soccer Balls

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

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

30 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
155 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Why trust BestReviews?
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best soccer balls

Last Updated July 2019

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, hands down. But if you’re more familiar with sports like American football, basketball, or baseball, buying a soccer ball may leave you befuddled.

Even though soccer balls all tend to look similar, they have some key differences. Understanding what you need in a soccer ball will help you pick the right one.

We’ve put together some important information regarding soccer balls in this helpful guide. After reading our shopping guide and checking out our top recommendations, you’ll be ready to buy the perfect soccer ball for you or your kids.

Soccer balls contain anywhere from 6 to 32 panels. The 32-panel ball has been the official ball for many years, but a 6-panel ball was used in the 2018 World Cup.

Key considerations

For younger players and those just starting out, the size of the ball is a key component. But when choosing a ball, also think about the type of soccer you’ll be playing.

Size

Most soccer balls sold are size 5, which is common for game play. But nonstandard sizes are available for practice and younger players.

  • Size 5: This is the official soccer ball size for adults and children over age 12. This type of ball  has a circumference of about 27 to 28 inches. It works for soccer played under standard rules, as well as many soccer game variations.

  • Size 4: Elementary school-aged children (about ages 8 to 12) use this size soccer ball for game play. This ball’s circumference is between 25 and 26 inches. Manufacturers refer to this ball as a “youth” soccer ball.

  • Size 3: This is a junior-size soccer ball for ages 8 and under. Its circumference is between 23 and 24 inches.

  • Size 1 or 2: Often called “mini” balls, these soccer balls are not made for official game play. They’re designed for specific skills development or just for fun. The size 1 ball can have almost any circumference, but 18 to 20 inches is common, while a circumference of 21 to 22 inches is common for size 2 balls. For leagues in which children are younger than 4 years old, a size 2 ball is sometimes used for game play.
     

Types of soccer balls for game variations

Game play on an outdoor soccer field involves a standard size 5 ball for older youth players and adults. Younger players may use a standard size 3 or 4 ball for outdoor game play. But different soccer balls are used for variations in soccer games.

  • Beach: Beach soccer uses a size 5 ball. However, specific beach soccer balls are available that are lighter and softer than standard size 5 balls. This makes the ball more comfortable to kick with bare feet.

  • FootGolf: FootGolf is a sport played on a golf course. Players advance the soccer ball on the fairway with their feet, aiming the ball at a large hole. FootGolf uses a standard size 5 ball.

  • Futsal: Futsal is a type of soccer played on hard surfaces indoors. The game uses a size 4 ball, but it’s usually heavier than the standard size 4 ball.

  • Indoor: The indoor game on turf often uses a size 5 ball, but youth games may use a size 3 or 4. However, indoor soccer balls have less bounce than standard soccer balls.
DID YOU KNOW?

The glossy finish added to the exterior of a soccer ball helps it resist water absorption and scuffing.

Soccer ball features

Soccer balls have used a variety of designs and materials over many decades, and the experimentation continues.

Design: Starting in the 1960s, soccer balls standardized on the Buckminster pattern, which involves 20 hexagon and 12 pentagon panels stitched together. This pattern dominated the sport for roughly five decades.

Newer soccer balls don’t always follow this stitching or panel pattern, however. Manufacturers are experimenting with different panel sizes and patterns to find the best design for a true ball flight. At the 2018 World Cup, players used a six-panel ball in which the panels were glued together without stitching.

Before buying a ball for league play, check any league rules regarding ball panel shape and number.

Material: Soccer balls consist of an exterior cover and a bladder. The cover protects the bladder, which holds the air.

  • Cover: A cover of polyurethane (PU) gives players the softest feel. This results in the greatest control over the ball. A polyvinyl carbonate (PVC) cover has greater durability but sacrifices feel. Some soccer balls use a blend of PU and PVC. Another option is synthetic leather, which has a high-end feel and quality.

  • Bladder: Latex bladders give the soccer ball a better quality and feel. But latex needs to be inflated more often. A butyl bladder holds air better than latex, but it doesn’t have as much give, resulting in a harder ball that has less feel.
EXPERT TIP

When playing indoor soccer on artificial turf, look for a ball with a tough cover that is made to handle this surface, which is more abrasive than grass.


Staff  | BestReviews

Soccer ball prices

Inexpensive

The least expensive soccer balls cost $10 to $25. These balls aren’t usually made for game play but for practice or skills building. Mini soccer balls are often in this category.

Mid-range

Balls that cost $25 to $50 are suitable for recreational game play or practice. The materials are of good quality and should last a long time. Youth-size soccer balls usually fit in this price range.

Expensive

A high-end soccer ball usually costs from $50 to $100, but you could pay up to $150. Official FIFA game balls fit in this price range. Balls of such high quality are probably overkill for the typical player, but high-level players may want the true ball flight and responsiveness of this type of soccer ball.

CAUTION

Storing your soccer ball in extreme temperatures could cause the exterior to crack.

Tips

Soccer is a simple game, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular worldwide. You don’t need any gear to play other than the ball. We’ve compiled some tips to help you gain the most from your soccer ball.

  • Stick to your budget. It’s easy to spend a lot on a soccer ball. But most players, especially youth players, don’t need extremely expensive soccer balls.

  • Choose something fun. Modern soccer balls come in a lot of fun designs. For younger players, having a colorful ball may get them more excited about playing. If your kids are just starting to play the game, it might be better to pick a fun ball of decent quality rather than focusing on only top-quality balls.

  • Use size 1, or mini, balls for training. Mini soccer balls are a nice way for kids to learn ball-handling skills while practicing anywhere. They can practice with the small ball in a rec room and then translate the newly learned skills to a regulation-size ball outdoors.

  • Stick with a standard size: If you’re unsure what size or type of ball to purchase, it’s always best to stick with the standard size. An official size 5 outdoor soccer ball easily has the most use cases, so it’s the safest purchase.

  • Take care of the ball. Clean the ball after use and store it in a place that doesn’t experience extreme temperatures.

Other products we considered

There are hundreds of soccer balls and each one delivers some specific advantages. We’ve picked a few others that are worth considering. The Under Armour DESAFIO 395 Soccer Ball has six different color combinations to pick from, which kids will love. For them, sometimes the decision is based more on the color and look of the ball than the performance level. The GlowCity Light Up LED Soccer Ball doesn’t necessarily provide the highest performance level, but it’s pretty cool for kids who’d like the opportunity to play at night. For really young children or toddlers who are just learning to play, a soft-sided ball is a nice choice. The Daball Toddler Soft Soccer Ball features several different cute animal faces on a ball that has a soft, bouncy texture.

Many small-circumference soccer balls are made for younger players, but these balls help older players work on specific ball-control skills, too.

FAQ

Q. What makes one soccer ball better quality than another?

A. A high-quality soccer ball, also called a “match” ball, follows all official requirements for size, construction, and materials. The highest-quality soccer ball consists of a polyurethane casing that gives it a soft-to-the-touch feel. High-quality balls may also have a synthetic leather cover, which allows maximum ball control and feel for players.

Q. Is it weird that I have to reinflate my soccer ball often? Is it punctured?

A. Not necessarily. Many high-quality soccer balls have a natural rubber latex bladder. This type of material has microscopic pores that allow air to escape very slowly. With heavy use, you might need to reinflate this style of ball a few times a week. A soccer ball with a puncture in it will lose air even when it isn’t being used regularly.

Q. Do I need to clean my soccer ball?

A. Regular cleaning will help the soccer ball last longer. After the game or practice session, wipe the ball with a damp cloth to remove any dirt. A little bit of soap on a damp cloth won’t damage the ball, but you should avoid using harsh detergents. Wipe the ball dry and store it in an area that maintains a fairly consistent temperature.

Q. Why are soccer balls different colors?

A. For a long time, soccer balls were only black and white, but multicolored soccer balls and balls with logos and patterns are common now. The colors and logos don’t really affect game play. However, players can use the colors and patterns to more easily see the rotation of the ball. This can help a goalkeeper or pass receiver judge the ball’s flight path.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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