As one of the most admired and common sports around the world, Soccer is an intricate sport with lots of layers that the average person doesn’t quite understand. The best players out there such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi trained with the right equipment and with the right methods to get to where they are today. If you’re interested in developing your game and getting to that next level, one of the first steps is to choose the right soccer ball.
There are many factors that go into choosing the best soccer ball for your needs. When looking at soccer ball options, you need to consider if the ball is indoor vs. outdoor, material, size, weight, pressure, design, durability, and even affordability. Getting a cheap ball isn’t always the best bang for your buck, as a popped cheap ball won’t do you any good when it’s sitting in the trash after a week. On the other hand, an expensive professional match ball being used on the beach is likely a waste of money.
Although choosing the right soccer ball might sound like an easy and simple task that can be done in a few seconds, the impact that the right ball can have on your game is much more than most realize. Make sure that you’re picking the best soccer ball for your needs by following the steps listed below.
Factors To Consider
Soccer Ball Types
There’s a variety of soccer ball types to choose from, and sometimes it’s hard to tell at first glance which ball is which. The majority of balls fit into the following categories:
- Professional Match
It’s important to note which ball you’re looking at before purchasing, as for example, getting a turf ball for street play will result in a deflated ball within a day.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all approach to purchasing a soccer ball, I’ll always recommend you go with a mid-price-range training or match ball. These soccer balls are often meant to be used recreationally in different environments and on different playing surfaces. They’re also often the most durable so that they can be used for extended periods of time. If you’re looking to pick the perfect soccer ball for your needs, however, then keep reading below.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Soccer Balls
After picking the type of ball you need, the next factor to consider is whether you need an indoor or an outdoor soccer ball. This is pretty self-explanatory, but indoor soccer balls are often lighter than outdoor soccer balls and often have an outer surface that sticks to the foot quite well. Indoor soccer balls also tend to bounce less when compared to outdoor ones. If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all approach between these two options, I’d recommend getting an outdoor soccer ball, as they’re generally more durable and professional. While outdoor balls can be used indoors for the most part, indoor balls won’t translate very well when used outdoors due to their weight and material.
When looking at materials that soccer balls are made of, you’re often going to be looking at both the casing covers and the bladders.
The casing covers of a soccer ball are the often hexagonal panels on the outer surface of the ball. Casing covers are often manufactured with synthetic leather due to its ability to repel water. Other materials can cause the ball to feel heavy, with some cheaper ones even absorbing any water they might come into contact with. The casing cover is also responsible for how the ball feels on your foot, especially when doing skill moves such as the elastico. Without the proper soccer ball and casing cover, these moves will feel impossible to the average player.
When looking at a soccer ball’s casing cover, you also want to take note of the amount of panels. The number of panels on a soccer ball determines how the ball moves through the air and how much control a player has on the ball. The number of panels can range from 6 (indoor soccer balls) to 32 (outdoor soccer ball), with any number in between. You also want to make sure that these panels are sewn together to ensure your soccer ball is as durable as possible.
The next most important material to consider when choosing a soccer ball is the bladder. The bladder is the black inside of the soccer ball that holds the air and keeps the ball in proper shape. The majority of soccer balls are made from either Butyl or Latex, with Latex being the best choice. Butyl bladders have high air retention, causing them to feel heavy and sometimes even unresponsive. Professional players often prefer latex bladders due to their responsiveness, especially with their head and feet.
After considering the type of ball and the types of materials you want in your soccer ball, the last thing you’ll need to decide on is the size. Regulation size in most leagues is a size 5 soccer ball (unless you’re under the age of 13 or so). Make sure to check with your league what size soccer ball you’ll need, as if you’re on the younger side you might be needing a different size ball. I’d recommend getting used to a size 5 soccer ball if you’re starting to play competitively to ensure you get the proper feel.
As a whole, there are many different types of soccer balls out there, and there are many different types of materials these balls can be made of. If you’re like me and you’re looking for a universal soccer ball to be used in practice, games, indoor, and outdoor, you should go with a size 5, 32 panel synthetic leather ball with a latex bladder.
Below are some of the best soccer balls depending on your needs:
Outdoor Casual Play
SELECT Numero 10 Soccer Ball
- Size 5
- Latex Bladder
- 32 Panels
- 2-Year Warranty
Indoor Casual Play
Mikasa SX50 Indoor Soccer Ball
- Size 5
- Hand-stitched panels
- Durable felt cover panels
- 1-Year Warranty
Competitive Outdoor Play
Adidas Telstar Official Match Ball
- Size 5
- Synthetic leather panels
- Latex Bladder
- Ball passed FIFA tests on circumference weight, rebound, and water absorption