There are few sports in the world as widely loved as soccer. The simple act of kicking a ball around is enjoyed by people of all ages and cultures in every corner of the globe.
And while the game itself is relatively straightforward, there is a surprising amount of variety when it comes to the type of soccer ball that is used.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a look at the different types of soccer balls available on the market and explain the subtle differences between them. We’ll also provide some tips on how to choose the right ball for your specific needs.
So whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned veteran, read on to learn everything you need to know about the soccer ball.
What Surface Are You Playing On?
One of the first things you need to consider when choosing a soccer ball is the surface you’ll be playing on.
Soccer balls come in different constructions and materials that are designed for specific surfaces.
For example, a ball that is meant to be used on grass will have different construction than one that is meant to be used on hard surfaces like concrete or artificial turf. The same is true for balls that are meant to be used on indoor versus outdoor surfaces.
The construction of the ball will determine how it handles and how long it lasts.
If you’re playing on a soft surface like grass, you’ll want a ball with a softer construction. This will help the ball maintain its shape and not get too deformed over time.
On the other hand, if you’re playing on harder surfaces like concrete or artificial turf, you’ll want a ball with a harder construction. This will help the ball withstand the wear and tear of the surface and last longer.
One thing to keep in mind is that balls with a harder construction will typically be heavier than balls with a softer construction. This is something you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing a ball, as a heavier ball can be more difficult to control.
Different Types of Soccer Balls
Now that you know a little bit about the construction of soccer balls and what surface they’re meant for, it’s time to take a look at the different types of balls available.
Here’s a quick rundown of eight of the most popular soccer ball types:
- Premium match soccer balls
- Official Match Balls
- Training/Practice Balls
- Turf soccer balls
- Indoor soccer balls
- Futsal balls
- Beach soccer balls
- Street soccer balls
So what are they? And what are their differences?
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Premium Match Soccer Balls
It is not rocket science that these are used in international level matches and the top leagues around the globe like Italian Serie A, La Liga, English Premier League, Bundesliga, etc.
But the main characteristic of these balls is the quality that is approved by the soccer governing body that is FIFA. These balls have to pass the testing procedure of FIFA which is the most updated and complete testing process available.
If you are wondering what the FIFA actually tests, I mean what are the criteria that they consider, I would suggest you go to the link above and read the PDF thoroughly if you want to know the detail.
But in short, here are the factors they mostly judge. Circumference, sphericity, rebound, water absorption, weight, loss of pressure, shape and size retention, balance, materials, curve, trajectory, and overall performance of the ball.
So what sizes are these balls? Undoubtedly they are size 5 balls. If you are not sure about soccer ball sizes, read our article here.
They are made out of the highest quality materials. Their cover is made from synthetic leather or premium quality polyurethane in most cases.
Who makes these premium balls? Almost every renowned brand makes these premium balls like Adidas, Nike, SELECT, Puma, and more.
Official Match Soccer Balls
Well, this sounds confusing, right?
Probably you are wondering about the difference between the premium match soccer balls, and official match soccer balls.
Not to worry! We are going to clear this up for you.
When it is about quality the premium match balls and official match balls are almost the same, but not the exact same. In terms of quality, official match balls stay between premium match balls and practice balls.
The quality of the materials that are used to make an official ball is similar to the quality of premium match balls, but the construction can be different in the case of official match balls. These offer almost the same shape, curve, trajectory, water absorption, rebound, etc.
In terms of durability, the practice balls are the most durable ones. But official balls are not that far behind when you talk about their durability.
Mostly college and high school tournaments use official balls and they are NFHS, and NCAA approved.
If you are interested to know the criteria NCAA and NFHS consider before they approve a soccer ball, here is the list…
- The circumference of the ball should be in the range of 27 – 28 inches. That means not less than 27 inches and not more than 28 inches.
- The pressure of the soccer ball should be in the range of 8.5 – 15.6 PSI.
- The shape of the ball should be spherical.
- Before starting the game the weight must be in the range of 14 ounces to 16 ounces and the weight must not exceed 16.75 ounces when used or wet.
- There is no restriction on the color of the ball but the cover should be leather or synthetic leather, and any materials used should not harm the players.
Training/Practice Soccer Balls
You might be thinking these are the lowest quality balls than their premium match and official match balls. Yes true, in terms of quality the materials are a bit lower in quality but when it is about durability these are taking the first place.
Look, when you buy a ball for practicing purposes you will want to have that ball usable for a longer period of time. That is why they are made with materials that ensure durability.
What about performance? Well, performance is not like official match balls or premium balls, that is expected. You won’t have to spend the same high/moderate amount of money as official balls. Most of the good training balls are real dart cheap varying around 15-30 dollars.
The majority of the practice balls are made out of PU covers and butyl bladders though. Some practice balls are made of PVC covers and latex bladders that are responsible to ensure durability.
Most of the time these balls have four or less than four layers of lining.
These are tougher balls than premium and official balls but usually less responsive. But for the practicing purpose, the responsiveness is quite ok.
Nowadays to improve your skill you will find some smart soccer balls like Adidas miCoach. This is a smart ball with a Bluetooth sensor inside. You will have a mobile app that is compatible with iOS 7+, Android 4.3+, and Windows 10. Using that app and ball you can track the flight, spin, power, trajectory, etc as the sensor inside sends these data to your mobile app via Bluetooth. You can find a detailed review of this smart ball on our soccer balls reviews page. Now just a video of Adidas miCoach ball.
Turf Soccer Balls
Turf balls are tough. Yes, they are tough and durable and particularly made to be playable on the hard surface where there is no grass. These are mostly hand-stitched balls and have traditional 32 panels to ensure durability. Pakistan is the leading hand-stitched ball manufacturer country in the world.
See? You probably wanted to buy a regular soccer ball to play on a hard surface but that will not be a good choice. Because you have the option to buy turf balls for that specific purpose.
As the name suggests there is some kind of soccer balls that are used for an indoor soccer game. Interestingly the cover of this type of ball is not from the materials that are used to make any other type of ball. Instead, in this case, it is like a tennis ball felt. You can find every size that is available for standard balls meaning size 1, size 2, size 3, size 4, and size 5.
The main objective of making these balls is to adjust the bounce and responsiveness as they are used to play on a hard surface and in an indoor environment.
Futsal Soccer Balls
Well, the main difference between a futsal ball and all other balls is that a futsal ball is filled with foam whereas other balls are filled with air.
To keep the bounce low futsal balls are made in this way. Not only this. These are size 4 balls although the weight is mostly the same as standard balls.
These mini balls are helpful to improve your skills as it requires good control to handle effectively.
Beach Soccer Balls
When you play beach soccer do you wear a soccer cleat?
That is why the main consideration during making a beach soccer ball is the comfortability of your foot. These are made out of materials that confirm the highest comfort when you kick a ball barefooted.
As you play on the sand and under a shiny sun the color of these balls is also bright to ensure clear visibility.
Not to mention these are water-resistant balls to protect them from the water. The weight is not too light though but they don’t lose pressure.
The toughest balls among all. The cover of the balls is made to sustain longer on concrete.
No doubt the cover is made from super high-quality rubber and should have traditional 32 hand-stitched panels with a high-quality seam. The shape of these balls is also spherical and mostly they have three layers of lining between cover and bladder to ensure toughness and durability.
In conclusion, when deciding which soccer ball to buy, it is important to first identify the intended use.
Will the ball be used for an official match or practice? Will it be used on grass, concrete, or turf? The construction of the soccer balls is different based on their intended use, so it is important to make this distinction before making a purchase.