Soccer is arguably the most popular sport in the world. The US calls it soccer. In other countries, it goes by the name of football, futbal or even Fussball. Many children start playing as soon as they can walk. I grew up playing pickup as well as organized soccer, but in other places, they play in the streets or in local fields. The players might have fancy soccer cleats, shin guards, jerseys, or they might even play barefoot!
But there’s one thing every game has in common, then need.
The best soccer ball!
We reviewed a bunch of balls to give you our best choices in this article. To do this we used a combination of ways to review the balls, from physically playing with them, to customer reviews, as well as, talking with players and coaches.
One thing that I should call out right away is that many of the poor reviews we’ve seen were because many people were upset that their ball came deflated. This is done for shipping reasons. It can lower the shipping costs, which are at the end passed on to the consumer. I was a bit surprised at the number of people who gave a 1-star review solely because the ball wasn’t pumped up.
So, word of warning. Your ball might not come inflated, but it really isn’t a bid deal.
How to Choose the Best Soccer Ball for You
Finding the best soccer ball can be challenging, there are literally thousands of options out there. So what’s the best soccer ball for you or your child? Well, that depends on a number of factors.
What Are Soccer Balls Made of and Why Does it Matter?
When it comes to the basics soccer balls are all the same. They have an outer casing and a bladder. The casing is the outer portion that creates the shape of the ball and the bladder is the inner portion that holds the air. After that, they can be very different.
The Touch is In the Casing
There are 3 main types of casings.
- PVC (poly vinyl carbonate) = PVC balls are the lower end, more affordable, but very durable type balls. But as the saying goes, “you get what you paid for.” They tend to be harder and often start to crack after continued use. This can cause injuries or scratches if you’re not careful. Have you ever tried to head a PVC ball. Ouch!
- PU (polyurethane) = PU balls are the middle of the road type of ball. They are typically better quality and softer than PVC balls, but not as good as synthetic leather balls.
- Synthetic leather = Synthetic leather balls are the highest quality, usually the most expensive, and are even used for professional games. But they are not recommended for a hard surface such as a street or driveway. The hard ground will scratch and tear at the ball.
- A 4th version could be a combination of the 3 types. = Balls that use a combination of the 3 types of casing, can also be high-quality balls and are sometimes used for higher-level competitions.
There are also 2 types of bladders:
- Latex bladders = They offer more control and are softer, but the trade-off is they are more porous, so they don’t hold air as well.
- Butyl bladders = They hold air better than latex, but on the flip side they’re stiffer.
Bladders are the compartment inside the soccer ball that holds the air. They are constructed with either latex or butyl. Latex bladders are softer and offer more control. Butyl bladders hold air better than latex bladders, but they are more firm.
How Soccer Balls Are Made
Check out this video to see how a modern soccer ball is made.
What else is Important When Choosing the Perfect Soccer Ball?
Once you get past the construction. There are other factors to consider.
- Proper size ball for your age.
- The best soccer ball for the type game are you playing.
- What surface are you playing on?
- Are you playing indoor or outdoor?
- Barefoot or with shoes?
- Just to mention a few.
Does Size Really Matter?
Yes, it does. Smaller soccer balls are made for younger players. They are not only easier to control with small feet and legs, but they are a safer weight for the strength of the player. If the ball is too big or too heavy it can cause strains to tendons and ligaments of young players.
There are 5 different sizes of soccer balls. Size 1 is for 3 years and under, while size 2 is for ages 3-5. Size 3 is typically the first ball clubs use and is for ages 5-8 and is the first size that is used in official play. Youth soccer players from 8-12 use a size 4 and adults and pros use the largest size, the size 5.
To learn more about what size is best for you or your child check out our in depth article:
It Is All In the Type of Game
There are many variations of the game of soccer. Each situation or match might require a different type of ball.
- There’s Futsal. A smaller heavier ball is used. This is meant to be a game of skills and little contact.
- Outdoor soccer on grass. This is where the synthetic leather balls will perform the best.
- Outdoor or indoor soccer on artificial turf. You can use synthetic leather balls here, but you’ll often see hybrid types or PU (polyurethane) balls used here.
- Hard surfaces such as streets or gym floors. In some countries, they even play on cinders. I learned, the hard way, not to slide tackle on this type of surface! For the harder surface, we generally recommend PVC balls, except for gym floors. There you can use all kinds including the balls that look like tennis balls.
- Then there is also the question of the level of play. Pickup, training, or an official match. For official games and higher-level play. You should always use a ball officially sanctioned by FIFA the governing body for international football (soccer).
Our Favorite Soccer Balls
Select Numero 10
The Select Numero 10 complies with the regulations of FIFA International Match Standard (IMS), the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS), and the NCAA. This has helped it become the de facto training fall for many teams. You can buy this ball individually or in packs of 4 and 8 and in sizes 3, 4, and 5.
For a little bit of history, Select a Denmark-based company, was the first to create a 32-panel soccer ball. They believe the 32 panels make it the roundest soccer ball.
It comes in a variety of colors including a bright yellow which enhances its visibility if your practice runs until dusk. They also have a special edition, The Cure, Select. For every purchase of this pink edition, Select will donate $2 to the cure of Breast Cancer.
The Select Numero 10 combines a solid rebound and durable construction to make it an excellent choice for individuals or teams.
- Complies with many soccer ball regulations.
- Carries a 2-year warranty
- Premium materials matched with durability at an affordable price
- As with many premium balls it needs frequent air refills
- The PU material can be unforgiving
- Designs are as flash as other newer balls
- I find them to be a bit hard
Under Armor Desafio 395
Under Armor might not be the first brand you think of when looking for a soccer ball, but they make a quality ball at a decent price that is quite popular.
One of the main problems with budget soccer balls is the manufacturer ends up focusing on the durability of the casing and the strength of the bladder instead of how the ball performs. This is not the case with the Desafio
The Desafio 395 is a good combination of hard and soft with the UA Touchskin technology and SBR foam layer underneath. This makes it a ball that is fun to kick because it has a high rebound, and it also feels nice on the foot.
With bright flashy colors, it is a popular choice with kids. This could be a great choice for practice or playing at home. This ball is available in sizes 3, 4, and 5.
- Comes in for stylish designs and colors
- Soft-touch and authentic rebound
- Good quality at an affordable price
- Not for use on concrete or asphalt. If you do, there is a high risk that the graphics and coloring will scuff.
- Playing on artificial turf may also cause scuffing.
- The ball doesn’t do well in indoor settings
Adidas Champions League Official Match Ball
This is one of the best match balls out there. I mean it was used for the UEFA Champions League. How can you get more official than that? It is also FIFA Quality Pro certified.
Every year they come out with a new official match ball and the continue to impress. This one is made with a 100% polyurethane cover and the panels are not stitched, they are thermally bonded. This makes them more predictable when they fly through the air. Something goalies are sure to love.
This ball makes you feel like a superstar when you play with it. It is also an excellent choice for official game balls for club teams. With the FIFA stamp of approval, you can be sure that it is the proper size and weight. No “deflate-gate” here!
- Seamless construction ensures a truer flight of the ball
- Premium materials and quality
- It may need some breaking in.
- The ball sometimes feels sticky on the foot when first start using it.
Nike Pitch Team Training Football
The Nike Pitch Team Training ball, is well just that, a popular training soccer ball.
It has a durable 100% Synthetic TPU casing that makes it quite durable. It comes in a variety of colors including classic black and white, and the more flashy, electric green, and yellow/violet.
The affordable price makes it a good investment for soccer enthusiasts that can be used for practice at home or an addition to your training ball line up. Great for players of all ages and skill levels. It comes in sizes 3, 4, and 5.
- Two year stitch and shape guarantee.
- The reinforced rubber bladder gives it enhanced shape retention.
- Bright color designs offer easy tracking during play
- Some players seem to think it is lighter than other balls
- It feels a bit slippery
Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball
The Willson Traditional soccer ball harkens back to its cousin Wilson Tom Hank’s faithful companion from the movie Castaway.
It is a popular choice for soccer purists with it’s old school design and feel.
The ball has a machine-sewn synthetic leather covering for better durability and rubber bladder that does an excellent job with retaining air and shape. It comes in multiple sizes; 2, 4, and 5, all with the traditional pentagon black and white paneling.
While it is not an official game ball, it is one of the best and most affordable balls for training at home or on the pitch.
- Affordable, quality ball.
- Its traditional style keeps soccer purists happy.
- I’ve heard the classic non-flashy style keeps the thieves away too.
- The ball can feel a bit hard due to the focus on durability.
- Too hard for playing barefoot.
- Synthetic leather may show wear after extended use.
My top pick has to be the Adidas Champions League Official Match Ball.
It is by far my favorite ball of the group. Just the way it comes off the foot when you kick the ball is a thing of beauty. These are also very similar to the World Cup Balls that Adidas makes. 2018 was the last one, but we should get a new for the 2022 World Cup.
They are both made for the game at its highest level. How could you not love this ball? But, of course, quality and the prestige of it being an official match ball come at a price. Making this the most expensive ball of the bunch.
Favorite Soccer Ball For Coaching
For coaching the Select Numero 10 is a great choice. You can buy them in bulk and they have a long reputation of standing up to regular day to day use for training.
Budget Soccer Ball Pick
For a budget ball, I chose the Wilson Classic Soccer ball because of its simplicity, and its an excellent choice for your kid’s first ball.
Speaking of kids, if you’re not sure what size ball the youth players in your family should use, check out our guide for the best soccer ball by age.