Soccer is the world’s most popular sport with half of Earth’s total population (~3.8 billion people) considering themselves fans. As it has grown in popularity the game has also evolved in different facets such as play style, skill level, nuances in the rules, and equipment usage.
Whether you are the parent of a budding soccer star or getting ready to play in the Sunday rec league games, it can be confusing determining what size soccer ball to use with so many options on the market.
What color do I need? Which brand is the best? Should I get my favorite team’s replica ball?
While these are all pertinent questions to be asking yourself before buying a new soccer ball, the most important is the question of size.
What Size Soccer Ball Do I Need?
For the most part, everyone ages 13 and up should be using a size 5 soccer ball unless you are using a smaller one for a specific reason like gameplay or practice.
Players 8-12 years old should be using a size 4, children less than 8 years old should be using a size 3 or a size 2, and the size 1 soccer ball is usually a collector’s item or team memorabilia.
This blog will also investigate the different soccer ball sizes that you could see at the youth level, rec league weekend games, indoor soccer, and of course the professionals. It will also answer some concerns about soccer ball dimensions and weight, FAQs about certain age groups, and dive into the composition of soccer balls.
Although regulation game size soccer balls are clearly defined by age, different sizes are also used in different ways. If you are having trouble deciding which size soccer ball will suit your needs best continue reading, and this guide will be able to point you in the right direction.
Soccer Ball Size Chart
|2||Foot skills||9 oz||21-22”|
Size 5 Soccer Ball
To get started, let’s talk about the most used soccer ball in the world. The size 5 soccer ball is the poster child for soccer balls used in standard matches all around the world, and it is recommended for all players ages 13 and up.
This is the ball you see when you watch the English Premier League, the Champions League, the World Cup, or any other worldwide competition where the competitors are 13 and older.
All size 5 soccer balls are the same weight and dimensions weighing in at 14-16 oz with a circumference of 27-28”. While all size 5 soccer balls are the same size and weight, they do differ from brand to brand. It is similar to shoes where some players prefer Nike to Adidas or vice versa. Simply a question of preference.
For example, the Champions League is the biggest European club competition, and in 2021 the official ball is the 20th-anniversary edition of the legendary ‘starball’ design that resembles the Champions League logo. It has been appropriately named the Adidas Finale.
The starball was introduced in 2001 by Adidas, and it has been the official ball ever since. The following is a description from UEFA about the iconic starball:
“The Finale Istanbul 21 features every design from the previous 20 UEFA Champions League finals, weaving past and present together into a high-performance ball. Slim red banners detail each year and city, while the thermally bonded star panels provide a seamless surface for an improved first touch.
The ball continues to offer control, aerobatic stability and a secure grip via thermally bonded hexagon panels, overlapping stars and textured coating. Incorporating sustainable glue, the ball provides a seamless surface and improved first touch for even more precision on the pitch.”
Another famous ball that has a rich history is the Adidas Telstar Durlast. This is one of the classic black and white designs that was made famous in the 1970 World Cup held in Mexico. Ever since then, the Telstar has been the official ball of the World Cup.
Each World Cup ball has been a variant of the original black and white Telstar with designs inspired from the home country of each World Cup location. More recent years have also seen some of the most experimental designs in terms of construction, materials, patterns, and ideas.
For example, the Adidas Brazuca was the official match ball for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. According to Bleacher Report, “the informal term ‘brazuca’ (which means our fellow) is used by Brazilians to describe national pride in the Brazilian way of life.”
The ball also features traditional multi-colored ribbons that reflect the flair and enjoyment in the Brazilian soccer scene. This is an example of how soccer balls are not only considered equipment in a simple game but how they are a symbol of national pride, a way to express your creativity, and a common thread that can connect people across the world.
Here is a great visual of how official World Cup soccer balls have transformed since 1930.
Size 4 Soccer Ball
One step down from the official playing size is a size 4 soccer ball or ‘youth’ size. The size 4 is targeted for kids from 8-12 years old, has a circumference of 25-26”, and weighs 11-13 oz.
The dimensions can seem extremely close to a size 5 ball, but you will be able to feel the difference between a size 5 and 4 on your foot. It makes it the perfect ball for kids who are on the verge of being able to handle the full-size ball, but not quite ready to take the leap.
It is a good progression ball for this age range because it is light enough to perfect your skills, but it is still only one step down from a size 5. There should not be too much of a learning curve, going from a size 4 to a size 5 ball, as kids advance in skill and strength.
The size 4 ball is also the official ball for the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Futsal is gaining popularity because the games are always action-packed and futsal players are known for being outrageously skillful with the ball in close quarters.
Futsal utilizes a 5-on-5 format, a smaller ball, and a small arena that has a harder surface, which requires more emphasis on foot skill, improvisation, and creativity.
Size 3 Soccer Ball
The size 3 soccer ball is commonly used for the ‘junior’ age range for children who are younger than 8 years old and it weighs 11-12 oz with a circumference of 23-24”. This is another progression ball for younger kids where they can build their strength and slowly prepare themselves to move up a ball size.
The size 3 is also the smallest ball you will see in competitions, and it is a great first step for kids just getting into soccer at a young age. Not only is it good for younger kids, but more experienced players can also use this size for training exercises to improve their ball skills.
Size 2 Soccer Ball
Size 2 soccer balls weigh 9 oz and have a circumference of 21-22”. You will not see them used in any real matches. They are primarily used as training balls for players of all ages to practice their footwork, first touches, and ball control.
Practicing with a size 2 ball can make a noticeable difference to your overall ball handling, and you will feel results when switching from a size 2 to a size 5.
Using a smaller ball to practice with is similar to a baseball player using a donut to warm up his swings. A smaller size ball makes it more difficult to control for older, stronger players, so when they switch back to a size 5 ball, it can feel like they are kicking around a beach ball.
This can also be used as a starter ball for young kids in the 3-5-year-old range. This is a great size for kids that are completely new to the game and it will allow them to develop basic skills. However, some children in that age range can do very well with a size 3, but it is open to your discretion as a parent.
Size 1 Soccer Ball
Weighing in at a monstrous 7 oz, with a circumference of 20” or less, the size 1 ball is mostly manufactured as souvenirs, toys, or collectibles.
Professional clubs and countries often make sought-after size 1 collector balls from certain competitions like the Champions League or the World Cup. For example, you can buy a size 1 UEFA Adidas Finale or a replica Adidas 2020 Tokyo Olympic ball.
Size 1 balls can also be used as training balls for younger kids who are keen on working on their footwork, but you could come to realize that they may be just a little too small if you are an older more experienced player.
Is There a Size 6 Soccer Ball?
Unfortunately, there is no size 6 soccer ball on the market right now. However, there are a few companies who are pushing the idea of a size 6 ball. They argue that one size bigger will open up new doors of possibilities for amateur players.
A slightly bigger ball can increase your foot skill and ball control and make passing and shooting easier. The logic makes sense, but it cannot be proven until a size 6 is on the market!
What Are Soccer Balls Made of?
Over the past few decades, soccer ball technology has greatly improved to create a better ball feel, increase ball durability and generate a more enjoyable game as a whole.
In the olden days, before modern ball technology, soccer balls were generally full-grain leather, or if you go back even further you can find accounts of animal skulls, pig bladders, and other rudimentary forms of soccer balls.
But that is the beauty in the game! The simplicity of soccer and soccer balls makes it possible for everyone around the world to play the game.
However, full-grain leather poses the issue of water damage. Leather is not the best material for wet conditions, so the old leather balls used to become near unusable after a couple of days on a wet pitch.
This created problems since soccer is played throughout winter and spring where conditions are variable in certain parts of the world. I am not sure if an old leather ball would make it through one rainy night at Old Trafford by today’s soccer standards.
But as technology improved and synthetic materials became mainstream, they started coating soccer balls in polyurethane to increase the ball’s durability and water resistance properties. The next part of the soccer ball is the panels.
When you think of a soccer ball you probably imagine the classic black and white hexagonal and pentagonal design with 32 panels. This is known as the Buckminster design. This designed wasn’t used on a whim, because when these balls were inflated, they maintained a spherical shape.
But in modern times, manufacturers have experimented with an even more perfect sphere – encompassing 26, 18, and 6 panels, as well as the previously mentioned starball design. Not only does fewer panels mean a more spherical shape, but it also means that there are fewer seams for water to leak into.
Now that we have talked about the outside of soccer balls, it is time to talk about the inner workings. Inside each soccer ball, there is a bladder for inflation purposes, that is wrapped in multiple lining layers.
The lining layers are usually made of cotton, polyester, or a blend of both of them. The layers are meant to provide extra cushion for increased ball feel and control. The extra cushion also protects players from tough headers on cold nights when the ball feels like a brick.
The last and possibly most important part of the ball is the bladder. Modern-day soccer bladders are commonly made out of butyl, latex, or polyurethane. Futsal uses a foam bladder due to hard playing surfaces, which helps reduce uncontrollable bounces.
For professional soccer, latex bladders are preferred because they are more responsive and hold better surface tension. The drawbacks to using latex are that they lose air quicker and they are a bit less durable, but that is not usually a worry for Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
What PSI Is Ideal for Soccer Balls?
According to FIFA regulations, all size 5 soccer balls used in competition must have a PSI between 8.5 and 15.6, and a good rule to follow for other sizes is anywhere between 8.7 and 11.6 PSI.
While it may seem arbitrary and unimportant, the PSI of your ball can affect your gameplay or the gameplay of any match.
It is a good habit—especially for younger players who are still perfecting their technique—to have the ball properly inflated so you know exactly how it feels whether it is in practice or a game.
Too much air results in a hard, over-bouncy ball. It will feel like every little touch sends it flying halfway across the pitch, and your first touch will suffer as a result. Too little air also gives you some problems.
It will be the opposite of an over-inflated ball where it will not feel bouncy whatsoever. Your first touch might not suffer as much, but long passes and shots will be affected by not enough PSI.
What Soccer Ball Does FIFA Use?
All FIFA-sponsored standard soccer games use a size 5 soccer ball. FIFA-sponsored competitions include the World Cup, the Olympics, and the FIFA Club World Cup among others. However, FIFA does sponsor the Futsal World Cup where they use a size 4 ball and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup where they use a less inflated size 5.
What Size Soccer Ball for High School?
In high school, the standard ball size is 5. All players 13 and up should use a size 5 ball.
What Size Soccer Ball for Middle School?
Once kids get into middle school it is recommended that they use a size 5 as well. This is a transitioning period where they can get used to the size they will continue to use.
What Size Soccer Ball for a 10-Year-Old?
At age 10, kids are still a little too young and underdeveloped to use a size 5. One size down at size 4 should be ideal for 10-year olds. They can try experimenting and practicing with a size 5 as they progress and get stronger.
What Size Soccer Ball for an 8-Year-Old?
Eight years old are sort of at an in-between age for soccer ball sizes. If your child has played for a while you can try using a size 4, but a size 3 would also be good for younger kids who are getting into soccer.
What Size Soccer Ball for a 6-Year-Old?
For 6-year-olds, you do not want to go down to a size 2 because it could affect their development, so try to get your child on the right path to using size 4 and 5 balls, by introducing them to a size 3 ball.