If you or your child has decided to play soccer, you need to make sure that they have the right equipment to properly learn and play the sport. Luckily, soccer doesn’t require a lot of equipment. In most cases, you’ll just need soccer cleats, shin guards, and a properly sized soccer ball. The size of the soccer ball for children usually depends on the age of the child but adults playing the sport will usually have to follow a league requirement. Your child’s coach or your own coach or league representative will probably tell you what size ball is needed for each instance but if they don’t you can figure out which one you need by understanding the different size soccer balls available.
Soccer Ball Size Breakdown
The size of a soccer ball is directly proportionate to a player’s age since a child won’t be able to handle the same ball that adults use and vice versa. This allows everyone to enjoy the game and learn how to play it properly. Different sizes can also be used to run specific drills in practices regardless of the players’ ages. Currently, soccer balls are available in four different sizes, 1 (the smallest), 3, 4, and 5 (the largest). These sizes are based on the individual dimensions of the ball.
This is the biggest size soccer ball that adults and professionals use. It’s also considered the best ball for youth players over the age of 12. They measure in with a circumference of 27 or 28 inches and weigh about 15 ounces. Since size 5 soccer balls are the ones used by most adult leagues and professional teams, they undergo a range of tests to ensure they are the proper weight and circumference. There are also tests done to make sure the ball has the proper bounce height, air pressure, shape, water absorption, and retention.
The next size down is the size 4 soccer ball. This is the typical size used by youth soccer leagues with players between the ages of 8 and 12. It’s slightly smaller than the size 5 ball measuring 25 or 26 inches in circumference and weighing around 13 ounces. The smaller size allows the youth players to learn how to handle the ball properly without tripping over it while dribbling or passing. It’s great for teaching ball control at this age. If they continue to play as they get older, they’ll be used to handling a soccer ball and won’t have any trouble controlling the size 5 soccer ball.
Made for younger players under 8 years old, the size 3 soccer ball is 23 or 24 inches in circumference and weighs around 11 ounces. This is the smallest soccer ball that is used in competitive play as the smaller size 1 isn’t used to actually play soccer. The size 3 ball is a good option for young players just starting out. It helps them learn to control and handle the ball and is proportionate in size to players so goalies are able to block shots effectively. Larger soccer balls at this age may result in frustration since the younger children may find it difficult to handle them. This frustration could lead to discouragement and turn them away from the sport.
Finally, the smallest soccer ball is the size 1 ball. Also known as “minis” these soccer balls are only 18 to 20 inches in circumference. They can sometimes be used for certain skill drills where a smaller ball will prove beneficial, but they tend to be mainly for entertainment purposes. They are usually souvenir balls boasting team logos or club seals and are sold to fans or used as promotional giveaways. There are some people who have an extensive collection of mini soccer balls and display them in their home.
FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Laws Governing Balls
FIFA is the largest governing body of international soccer play. They set the rules, requirements, and restrictions of everything involved in soccer including uniforms and the equipment. This, of course, includes the soccer balls used by all teams that fall under their control.
Qualities and Measurements of the Soccer Ball
In order to receive FIFA’s literal stamp of approval (all balls designated ready for play are stamped with FIFA’s seal), it has to meet certain standards. The ball must be perfectly spherical measuring no more than 28 inches in circumference and no smaller than 23 inches. It has to weigh at least 14 ounces but not more than 16 ounces and should have a pressure that is between 0.6 and 1.1 atmosphere (8.5 to 15.6 pounds per square inch) at sea level. It has to be made of leather or another suitable material approved by FIFA.
Every ball produced has to undergo a number of tests. These tests are the only way to ensure that the soccer ball in question meets the standards set by the association. If the ball passes all the tests, it will get the necessary approvals and can be shipped out to be used for official FIFA matches.
Modern soccer balls feature 12 pentagonal panels and 20 hexagonal panels patterned across the surface of the ball. The interior of the soccer ball features a latex or rubber bladder that is filled with air and allows the ball to bounce properly. The bladder has to be filled to the proper pressure requirements in order to be FIFA worthy. The exterior of the soccer ball is stitched by hand or machine around the bladder and a carcass made of spooled thread. The carcass not only ensure the spherical shape of the ball but also provides some cushioning and moisture absorption so the exterior of the soccer ball stays as dry as possible during a match.
Besides match-ready soccer balls, there are also balls made specifically for training and those made for different turfs including beach soccer balls, indoor soccer balls, turf soccer balls, and street soccer balls. These are made similarly and come in different sizes, too.
Modern soccer balls are constantly undergoing improvements and new developments are common. However, the sizes seem to stay the same as does the basic shape of the soccer ball. When looking for the right size soccer ball, be sure to check with your league (or your child’s) to first find out what size is needed. Once you’re sure of what you need, you can simply go out and shop for your specific soccer ball. If you’re not sure whether or not the ball you found meets your league’s standards check the measurements on the ball or its package and compare it to the size guides here. If the ball matches the circumference of the size you’re looking for, it’ll fit your needs.