Are you baffled by all the soccer ball sizes? Do you need a size 5 or 4? How about your kid? Do they need a size 2? Do you even know what these numbers mean? Well, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Most recreational soccer players are completely oblivious to the fact that soccer balls come in all sorts of sizes.
I am not saying I would be a professional soccer player today if I was given the right size ball to play with when I was younger. I am saying that the right size ball for my feet probably would have allowed my soccer skills to develop in a different way. It would have taught me more about control, which is vital in the game.
I want to talk to you a little bit about why there are so many different soccer ball sizes. I also want to talk about which size of ball will be appropriate for certain situations. This advice will help both you and your kids thrive on the soccer field.
Everything you ever wanted to know about soccer ball sizes
Why so many ball sizes?
To put it simply; it is because people of different ages play soccer. It is the most popular sport in the world. People start playing from the age of 3, and often continue until they are no longer fit enough to run around a field for more than ten minutes. People love the sport.
Soccer is a game that is all about controlling the ball, while at the same time making split-second tactical decisions. If you can do that, then you will thrive in the sport. Obviously, it isn’t easy to get to that level. In fact, most of us will never hit the top of the game. I once saw a news item in the lead-up to the World Cup which says that you need near genius levels of intellect in order to thrive in soccer. The right brain connections need to be there, and most of us don’t have them.
What we can do is try and develop a few of the skills needed to succeed on the soccer field. If we can develop just some of these skills, we will already be better than the majority of players out there. While it will take a long time to be able to develop the ability to make tactical decisions ‘on the fly’, it shouldn’t take too long to learn how to control the ball.
In order to learn how to control that ball, it needs to be the right size. We need to be able to move our feet around it effortlessly. We need to be able to strike the ball with our feet without overexerting ourselves. For this, we need the right size of ball to play with.
A kid, no matter how skilled, will never have the same level of football intellect in terms of decision making as somebody like David Beckham. Their brains aren’t wired like that at such a young age. However, they can learn to control the ball like David Beckham. If the ball isn’t too large, then they will be able to weave it around the players on the field. If it isn’t too heavy, they will be able to strike it cleanly, and ensure that the ball goes where they want it to go.
The same goes for adults. You don’t want a ball that is too small. If it is too small, your feet won’t connect with the ball properly. If it is too light, you will be consistently putting too much power into your shot. This will result in more shots missed than goals.
We have different sizes of balls, because you need to be able to control the ball with your feet with absolute precision. The idea is that the right size ball will ensure that you are thinking less about what is happening with your feet and more about making perfect tactical decisions. The right size ball will allow you to become a far, far better player.
I want to talk to you about the various sizes of soccer ball that are available. This should give you a good idea about what you need for certain situations.
Size 1 soccer balls
Size 1 soccer balls are designed for kids under the age of 3. However, if you purchase a collectible soccer ball, it will probably come in at this size too. They will never be larger than 20-inches in circumference, although many of them border on 18-inches.
That being said, if you are an adult you may find that kicking around a size 1 soccer ball is beneficial. Lots of professional players do it. It will allow you to perfect certain skills on the field e.g. aerial kicks.
Size 2 soccer balls
Size 2 soccer balls are ever so slightly larger than size 1. These come in at 22-inches in circumference. They weigh a shade over 250-grams, although this will be dependent on the exact ball that is purchased.
Size 2 soccer balls are perfect for children under the age of 5, although adults can use them to improve certain skills in the same way that size 1 balls are used.
Size 3 soccer balls
Between the ages of 5 and 8, a child should be playing with size 3 soccer balls. These have a maximum circumference of 24-inches. The weight is around 300 grams.
It is at the age of 5 that children will start to learn proper control over the soccer ball. Size 3 balls weigh just enough to perfect shooting techniques, but they are small enough for them to be easily dribbled by a child.
Size 4 soccer balls
Up until the age of 11, a child will be playing with size 4 soccer balls. They are a bit smaller than the competition level ball, but perfect for youth development. They weigh in at 390 grams, with a maximum circumference of 26-inches.
Some smaller adults may actually find that playing with a size 4 ball is a bit easier, particularly if they haven’t played much soccer in their life. Often, a size 5 ball is a bit too big when you are working on your dribbling or shooting.
Size 5 soccer balls
Size 5 soccer balls are perfect for use by anybody age 12 and up. This is a competition size ball. The diameter is 28-inches. The weight is a fixed 450-grams. If you have learned to control the ball with the other sizes, then learning to play with a size 5 should be simple. Although, you should only pick one up when you feel at ease with the ball in between your feet.
Sizes of soccer balls change over time
No. I am not just talking about the history of soccer balls here. I am telling you that if you buy a soccer ball today and use it a bit, it isn’t going to be the same size and weight that it will be a few months from now. In fact, at the end of your first kickabout, there will be small changes to the size of the ball.
Every kick will stretch the ball’s material ever so slightly. Eventually, the physical size of the ball will change. You probably won’t notice by looking at the ball, however, you will notice a weight increase. A physically larger ball requires more air inside of it, after all.
Balls that have been used repeatedly will feel completely different. Your shots with them will become less accurate. The ball won’t move as fast. You may not be able to dribble with them the same way you did before. Balls in major leagues and tournaments will never be used for more than 90-minutes. Although, you probably won’t want to be replacing your balls as often as this. It is probably best to pick up a quality ball, so the physical changes take longer to be noticed. When you start to feel the weight of the ball increasing, or you just need an excuse for that missed shot, then replace your ball.
Size is not the only thing that matters
While the size of the soccer ball is important, it is not the only thing you need to think about when buying a new ball. You also need to consider how you are planning on using it. A ball used for playing on a grass field will be wildly different to a ball used for Futsal. You also wouldn’t want to use a recreational soccer ball for playing in a competitive match. In fact, the rules of the league you are playing in may not even allow it.
It would be virtually impossible for me to list every type of soccer ball. I could probably give it a go. It would just be pointless (and rather boring for you and me). When you are writing about the world’s most popular sport, you will frequently encounter products you never knew existed. Experimental products from companies who want a slice of the lucrative soccer market. Just like most apps you find on the app store; these products are pointless. What I will do is talk you through the balls that you are most-likely to encounter, and the situations you would probably use them in. This should give you a nudge towards the right ball for your needs.
Professional/Competitive Match Balls
These balls are the cream of the crop. They are designed to be used by some of the largest soccer leagues and the best players in the world. Playing with proper FIFA-approved soccer balls is like living the dream. They move fast. Your shots go exactly where they should go. You will have complete control over that ball. If it isn’t moving how you want, then the problem is with you. The specifications of these balls are so exact, you probably won’t find them used beyond a single match in a major competitive league. They would have lost their pizzazz at the end of the 90 minutes. Expect to shell out a substantial amount of cash for one of these balls, though.
Matchday Soccer Balls
These are the balls you go for if you want something to play a proper game of soccer with, but you don’t feel like putting up hundreds of dollars for a competitive ball. When pumped full of air, matchday soccer meet all FIFA specifications for size and weight. However, the materials are slightly different which means they don’t ‘feel’ the same when you are playing with them. This means you have an excuse if you miss that all-important penalty.
As the name implies, these are the balls that you use when you are training, or just having a bit of fun playing soccer. Unlike the previous types of ball, these will come in the various soccer ball sizes. This means that there should be a training ball for everybody that wants to head out on the pitch and improve their soccer skills.
Training balls come in a variety of different styles. For example; if you are training on artificial grass, then you may want to invest in balls that are built for that purpose. Although, no matter which training balls you pick up, you can be sure that they are built for the rigors of training. They will last a long time. They may not always keep the same size and weight throughout their life, however.
Indoor Soccer Balls
Indoor soccer balls are heavier. Since they are being used indoors, it is likely that they will be bouncing off of hard surfaces all the time. The exterior of them will be thicker as a result. This may impact the amount of control you have over the ball. However, the heavier size means that you will be able to get in ‘tighter’ shots. Once again, these balls will be split down into smaller categories. For example; you may find balls specific for playing on wooden surfaces, and you made find some that are built for the past-paced Futsal.
Choosing the right soccer ball sizes
If you want to play at the top of the game, or you want your child to hone their skills, then you need to consider choosing the right soccer ball sizes. Obviously, the size of the ball isn’t everything when it comes to skill. However, you can severely delay somebody’s development if you start them off on a ball that is the wrong size. Purchase the correct ball, and you will be dribbling and shooting all over the field with ease…you may even be the next David Beckham!