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It can be a bit of a jungle figuring out which football to choose. Soccer Balls are available in all shades and price ranges. But because there are so many ones, you can find one that meets exactly your needs. To help you get started/move forward in choosing the right and best football for you, we have created this guide.
Here’s what you need to know to make your choice:
- What is a soccer ball made of?
- The right size
- The price
- Know your approval
- Choose ball according to purpose
- Take care of your ball
- Pump it up properly
What is a soccer ball made of?
Footballs are no longer made of real leather but a synthetic leather material. This is because genuine leather absorbs water, so the ball becomes heavy. In contrast, the synthetic leather called polyurethane (PU) does not drink as much water (if it absorbs anything at all). Therefore, footballs in this or similar material are preferable.
Simultaneously, the material also gives a softer ball, a better touch on the ball, and you have a better feel for the direction of the ball. Polyurethane increases your control over and with the ball.
They make other balls of PVC, which is a plastic material. They are cheap and good for the youngest players. The ball is very light and durable, but it’s challenging to control as they often weigh less than footballs made of PU.
Below the surface of the ball
There is also a difference in the rubber bladder in the ball, the part that holds the air. They are available in two materials:
Butyl holds the air well and makes the ball durable. It is useful when playing on hard surfaces, such as tiles or gravel.
Latex is a soft material and good for football, which is used on grass. It does not hold air and butyl, and therefore balls with latex must be pumped more often than footballs made of butyl.
Regardless of the material, the ball must not feel soft and spongy when you buy it. If the ball is soft when you buy it, it can be challenging to control, and it gets worn more quickly.
The right size
Footballs are available in several sizes to suit the age of the players:
- Size 5 (22 cm in diameter) – from U16 and up (U15 boys also play with size 5)
- Size 4 (20 cm in diameter) – from U9 – U15 (As mentioned above, U15 boys play with a size 5)
- Size 3 (18 cm in diameter) – U7 + U8
- Sizes 1 and 2 are mini balls to enhance one’s technique or to have fun
For a child, using a too big ball is both demanding and harmful for the body – it only requires too much effort from the child to play with an enormous ball. It is easier for the child to learn to kick right to the ball if it is the right size. Therefore, it is essential to buy a ball of a suitable size for your child’s age.
If you want to go out and have a ball, we recommend a size 4. It is average, and most people, both children, and adults can have fun with it. If it is a future football player who wants to practice his technique, go for the above measurement scale.
The price of Soccer Ball for the money?
The price of football can fluctuate from $8 and up to over $150. Like so many other things, cost and quality are linked.
But it is unnecessary to buy the most expensive ball to play in your spare time. A more expensive ball will be easier to handle, keep its shape, and do not have as much uptake of water when it rains. Therefore, a costly ball will be worth the money if you know in advance that you often use the ball.
If you want a ball in your garden that you and the kids can use over the summer, then it may be a good idea to buy a less expensive version.
In the following section, we will guide you through various recommendations when you need to gain a ball.
Know your approval
There are several approvals of balls, which guarantee that they have thoroughly tested the ball. We review them here:
- FIFA Approved / FIFA Inspected
- NFHS / NCAA Approved
- International Matchball Standard (IMS)
FIFA Approved / FIFA Inspected
To get FIFA approval, the ball must pass a series of tests. If the ball passes the first six tests, it is FIFA Inspected, while the seventh test determines whether the ball becomes FIFA Approved.
The tests examine:
- The perimeter
- The form
- Water absorption
- The weight
- Loss of air
- Holds size and shape
The ball’s circumference is tested by pumping the ball up and measuring the diamond at ten different points on the ball. The test must ensure that the ball moves predictably.
They test the shape in the same style as in the way you test the circumference. Here, however, you measure in the middle of the 16 pieces that together form the ball. It is the difference between the highest and lowest diameters compared to find out if the ball is round.
Bounce, water, and weight
The bounce of the ball must be predictable, and they test it on a steel surface, where you use a camera to measure how high the ball can bounce.
The ball must not become too heavy when it is raining, and therefore the ball’s water absorbency is tested under conditions reminiscent of a football in the rain. After the test, you weigh the ball and see how much heavier it has become. The ball must be able to absorb as little water as possible before it can pass this test.
When the weight is to be tested, the balls are pumped to match the standard, and then the balls are weighed. The value should preferably be within a range of 420-445 grams for a ball in size 5.
Exposed to 2000 kicks
The ball should like to keep the air over time, and FIFA is testing how massive a loss of air is in use. This is done by pumping it up, and after three days, it must have lost a maximum of 20 percent of the air.
To become FIFA Approved and not just FIFA Inspected, the ball must also pass a test of whether the ball keeps size and shape after use. They put the ball to the test by being subjected to 2000 kicks. The ball is then tested again and its loss of air too, and the ball must continue to hold its shape and have enough air to proceed from this test.
Soccerworld.com has made an excellent overview of what requirements the balls must live up to.
NFHS / NCAA Approved
Since 1999/2000, you have had to use NFHS Approved, or NCAA Approved balls if you have played school tournaments in the United States.
They also find the balls in Denmark, and the approval means that the ball must live up to several requirements. The ball must:
- Keep in shape
- Made of leather or another suitable waterproof material
- The circumference must not be less than 68 cm and not greater than 70 cm
- It must weigh between 396-453 grams
- Pumped to match the manufacturer’s recommendations
International Matchball Standard (IMS)
Unlike FIFA labels, the IMS label is free, and the requirements are less than for FIFA labels. The tests here deal with:
- Lost by air
- Water absorption
The tests are like FIFA Inspected, but IMS does not allow access to be used in FIFA’s tournaments.
Choose the ball according to the purpose.
There are many footballs. We have gathered the overall categories and come up with a few bids for the best balls within each category, so you have something to go for when you buy your football.
The categories are:
- Good match ball
- Match ball/training ball
- Ball for artificial turf/gravel court
- Indoor ball
- Beach ball
Good match ball
They call good match balls in English premium match balls and are, as the name suggests, the best match balls on the market.
They are also the most expensive balls because they are made with the best materials to meet various requirements so they can be FIFA Inspected or FIFA Approved. This means that they are approved to be used in FIFA’s tournaments, the Champions League, and Europe’s most significant leagues.
Match ball/training ball
Ordinary match balls and training balls are the steps down from the top footballs. They can still have a label like FIFA Inspected, NFHS or NCAA Approved or be IMS approved. These are durable balls that you can afford to buy more of for his workouts, and it will probably be this ball that most players need.
Ball for artificial turf/gravel court
Balls have been made, which have been developed especially for gravel courts and artificial turf. It makes them more robust than ordinary balls to handle the surface, which wears a little harder on the ball.
If you play on tiles or asphalt, these are the balls you should look for.
They make balls for indoor football to have a slightly smaller spring to fit the marginally narrower pitches. Besides, they are made a little stronger than regular balls to cope with the game on gangs and walls.
There are also balls made, especially for the beach. They are softer on the outside, so they are more comfortable to kick with your feet.
They are usually also waterproof and made more durable so they can handle the game in sand.
The balls are in sizes 1 and 2 and are used for either child to improve the technique or just because it is fun.
We can buy mini balls in sports shops, online and in larger supermarkets. Use it if you want to practice your technique, but bet on one of the other balls.
Take care of your Soccer ball.
The better you take care of your ball, the longer it will last. This is especially true for the slightly more expensive balls. Our recommendations are:
- Do not sit and stand on your ball
- Do not play too much up a wall – it can ruin the shape of the ball
- Remove the worst dirt and soil from the ball after playing with it. A warm cloth will handle it. If this is not enough, use a mild soap or a synthetic leather cleaner. Never use harsh cleaners. It can ruin the seams and thus your ball.
- Wash the ball after use. That way, it stays in shape.
- Also, do not use a hard jet of water to clean the ball, as water may penetrate it. If the ball is wet, do not use it when the temperature is below freezing.
- Extreme heat or cold is not suitable for the ball either. Therefore, please do not leave it in a hot car.
- At the end of the game, place the ball in a dry place. That way, the ball does not absorb moisture, and the shape stays longer.
Pump it up properly
It is important to inflate your ball as long as you remember to follow the dealer’s instructions. This means that the ball must have an air pressure between 0.6 and 0.8 BAR.
It is recommended to use a meter to get the exact amount of air in the ball. Select has made an analog and a digital meter for this purpose:
There are many ball pumps, and most have the function of pumping air in, both when pulling the pump in and out.
Select analog pressure gauge.
Ball pump from Uhlsport.
Uhlsport and Select have each made their bid for a pump which you can see an example of in the pictures.
No matter how good the ball is, it will lose air. For some balls, usually the cheap ones, it does not take more than a few days. Therefore, check the air pressure in the ball at regular intervals.
This is because it can ruin the ball or the game if the ball is not pumped correctly.
Before they pump the ball for the first time, it is good to get a few drops of valve oil into the valve. It extends life and makes it easier to put the pump down in the valve.
If you do not have valve oil, you can also use silicone oil, silicone spray, or glycerin oil.
It is also a good idea to always moisten the pump needle before using it. Here you can also use valve oil.
Also, the manufacturers recommend closing some air out of the ball after use to reduce the pressure on the seams on the ball’s surface. But always remember to inflate it again before use.