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Americans call it soccer, but the rest of the world knows it as football. Whatever you call it, there is no denying, it is the world’s most beloved sport. Played by millions around the world, and watched and adored by billions, “the beautiful game” is definitely the most popular sport of all time. The best thing about soccer is that there are really no start-up costs to it. All you need is a ball and enough space to run around.
You can play soccer pretty much anywhere you like. You can take your ball to the beach, to the local basketball court, to the front year, to the empty lot at the end of the street. All you need is a ball, some passion, a few friends to play with, and a couple of sticks for goalposts. In fact, that is how some of the best professional players in history honed their craft. You do, however, have to have a ball. With that in mind, the below guide was made to help make finding and purchasing a soccer ball simple and well-informed.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best soccer balls on the U.S. market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about soccer balls
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- A ball is the only accessory required to play the game.
- There is a range of sizes depending on the age of the players, the playing surface, or the style of soccer being played.
- Different surfaces require different types of balls (both materials and size).
Ranking: The best soccer balls on the U.S. market
In the below section we have compiled a list of five of the best soccer balls currently on the U.S. market. We know you will find something that meets your needs, whether you are playing recreationally or more competitively. Always ensure you are buying the appropriate size and that the material is suitable for the surface.
No. 1: Adidas – Capitano Soccer Ball
Adidas is without a doubt the game’s biggest provider of gear and apparel. Nike is a very close second, but there is a strong argument to be made the Adidas is the official soccer company. Their Capitano Soccer Ball is one of their most popular selling entry-level balls that, while it wouldn’t be used in a professional-level match, is still well-made and designed. It features a butyl bladder that retains air well and is machine-stitched for extra durability.
It comes in all of the common ball sizes so there is something for every age range. It also comes in a surprisingly wide range of colors and graphics. Choose from 29 different color and graphic combinations altogether. This is a nice ball for casual games and scrimmages and for playing with on harder surfaces. It is affordable enough and durable enough that this can be kicked around on the street, at the park, on gravel fields and really anywhere.
No. 2: Nike – EPL Strike Soccer Ball
Nike is the other big ball manufacturer in world soccer and if the official ball of a given top-flight league around the world isn’t Adidas, it’s Nike. The EPL in their EPL Strike Soccer Ball stands for “English Premier League” which is one of the most famous in the world and home to renowned clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. This is a replica ball of the kind used in professional matches in England and looks and feels great.
The 12-panel design is made to give players the most accurate and true-to-life ball flight possible, while the texture outside provides better grip and traction. The Nike Aerotrac Grooves in the ball are meant to provide stability to this ball in flight so you get a reliable and predictable flight path every time you shoot or pass. It is made from 60 per cent rubber, 15 per cent polyurethane, 13 per cent polyester and 12 per cent EVA. As close to the real thing as you are going to get at this price range.
No. 3: Wilson – Traditional Soccer Ball
Wilson is a name that is more often associated with Tenis and Volleyball than soccer, but they have also been making some great soccer balls and accessories over the years. The design of this ball is the traditional black and white that has always been associated with the game. It has a nice synthetic leather cover that makes this $13 dollar ball exceptionally durable. The butyl rubber bladder holds air well and makes the balls stays inflated for longer.
It comes in sizes 3, 4 and 5 so it can be purchased for all age ranges. Keep in mind that at this price range, soccer balls are really only meant to be used recreationally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time with this ball, or that it can’t be used for pick-up games, and even practising. It is a great product to have in the trunk of the car for trips to the park or to keep in the closet or garage so it can be hauled out if you just want to mess around on the driveway or backyard. Everyone needs a soccer ball around the house.
No. 4: Adidas – Glider Soccer Ball
Adidas was bound to make another appearance on this list thanks to just how well-liked their products are. Their Glider Soccer Ball is similar to their Capitano model above with slightly different design and features. It comes in the same wide range of patterns and colors and is a durable polyurethane ball that will hold its shape well and stand up to regular use on a variety of different surfaces. The machine stitching is actually quite well done and you can get an impressive amount of use out of this ball.
This soccer ball would best be described as a practice ball and is great for target and shooting practice. The polyurethane shell is water-resistant and extra-tough, and despite it not being professional quality, it still flies and feels as if it were. A nice thing about this ball is that it grips the turf and grass quite well, even when it’s wet out, making this a nice all-weather ball to keep around.
No. 5: Adidas – Performance Confederations Cup Replica Ball
Adidas Performance Confederations Cup Replica Ball is exactly what it sounds like: it is a replica version of the authentic ball used for the Confederations Cup, a tournament that was recently cancelled, but now appears back on. It is made from 100 per cent polyester and has a TSBE seamless surface for improved touch and better water-resistance. This ball has passed all of the FIFA standards testing for circumference, weight, rebound, and water-proofing.
This ball is the 2017 Confederations Cup ball and features the exact same graphic you would find on the original. One of the great things about this ball is that it is thermally bonded, so it is less prone to tearing and rips that you get with other balls. It also helps protect the integrity of the bladder inside, so it will warp less. People who know soccer really seem to love this ball, and despite being more up-market, this is a product that is built to last.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about soccer balls
The market for soccer balls is clearly quite wide and there are a lot of options, many of which look quite similar at first glance. Being so spoiled for choice can make it hard to make one, but there are great products at affordable prices that are as close to professional quality as you can get without spending hundreds of dollars. In the following section, we have put together a list of answers to some of the most commonly asked consumer questions.
What is a soccer ball exactly?
A soccer ball looks simple but a tremendous amount of design and engineering goes into them – especially the professional-quality balls. To play soccer you need a soccer ball, other balls made for other sports that look like they might work, simply aren’t made for it. Most soccer balls are made from either polyester, polyurethane or some type of synthetic leather and then inflated to inflated. Good balls are light enough to be passed around and shot with relative ease, as well as feature designs that impact how they fly and grip the surface.
Where do soccer balls come from?
The earliest soccer ball-like object can be traced back to 4th century BC China where local roots were crushed and compacted into a sphere-like shape and covered in hide. The first bouncing balls were invented by the Aztecs of Mexico. The Spanish took note of this when they first arrived in the new world and, like many things they encountered there, they brought their tales back to Europe.
The modern game and the modern soccer ball has its origins, however, in 19th century England. The original balls were bound with a leather cord that caused so many injuries and lacerations that it was abandoned in the 1930s after the game made it to Argentina.
How are soccer balls manufactured?
During earlier decades balls were made with just leather. But leather soaks up water rapidly and becomes too heavy to play with. New soccer balls are made using polyurethane or similar materials. All standard balls are a combination of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons of material sewn, glued, or vulcanized together.
The best balls are hand-stitched and, not surprisingly, are the most expensive. The air chamber and value, however, are both made of either latex or butyl. You will also find a number of layers of cotton or polyester coating in between the outer cover and inner chamber. Non-professional balls are manufactured in basically the same way, they just use lower quality materials and everything is done by machine.
How should I inflate my soccer ball?
You can only really play soccer properly if your ball is well-inflated. An over or under-inflated ball will not fly properly, will be impossible to control, and will make it hard to train and learn. The below are three steps you can take to ensure your balls is properly inflated:
- Get a good pump to inflate your ball. Some products have built-in pressure indicators to give you more control.
- Use glycerine or silicone oil to lubricate the needle and valve. This ensures you don’t puncture the delicate and necessary air bladder inside.
- Find the correct pressure recommended by the manufacturer. Insert the pump’s needle into the ball valve and start adding air slowing. Keep an eye on the pressure indicator if there is one.
What’s the best way to preserve my ball?
To get the most out of your ball, there are some things you likely already know you shouldn’t do with it. No hitting it with hard objects, don’t let the dog chew on it etc. You should also make sure not to put all of your body weight on it (i.e. stand or sit on it). Over time the seams will give out and you will warp the ball.
When you can you should play on soft surfaces and avoid anything with stones, concrete, or sand. Also, avoid pelting it as hard as you can against walls. Be careful when inserting the pump into the valve and remove it gently. Many manufacturers suggest deflating the ball slightly after each session so that it is not under pressure while not in use.
Where can I repair my soccer ball?
If you have issues with your ball you can always take it to a sports shot, especially if the vale is malfunctioning. You will save time and money if you also get to fix any scratches or punctures. Preventative care is better than having to replace the ball down the line.
If you want to fix cracks or punctures on your own there are filler sprays and liquids that will often do the trick. If you are using a liquid, you have to insert in through the valve and keep filling the ball until you don’t see any more air bubbles coming from the puncture or hole. Clean the vale thoroughly after so the vale doesn’t clog up.
What are the most famous soccer ball brands?
The largest sports apparel and accessory manufacturers in the world – Nike and Adidas – are, not surprisingly, the biggest producers of soccer balls. Almost all professional competitions and leagues around the world use either a Nike or an Adidas ball. Adidas is slightly bigger and more popular because of the numerous agreements and sponsorship deals it has with the sport’s governing bodies and biggest competitions.
Nike is no slough, though. Nike balls are used in the English Premier League as well as Nike’s very own A-League. Umbro, Puma, Uhlsport, Mikasa and Joma are other well-known and well-liked brands out there. They make good-quality products, but the market is officially cornered by both Nike and Adidas.
To get the right soccer ball you need to apply some specific criteria to your purchase and factor in some important considerations. These include the age of the players, the surface you will be playing on, the style of soccer you are playing, and the skill level and competitiveness of the competition.
- Quality seals
Soccer’s governing bodies have set the regulations surrounding ball size. They must be specific sizes and weights for different age groups. The below table contains a break down of the different sizes and the age groups for whom they are most appropriate.
|No. 5||26.7-27.5 inches||14.5-15.9 ounces||From 12 years onwards|
|No. 4||26-27 inches||13 ounces||9-11 years|
|No. 3||22.8-24 inches||11 ounces||6-8 years|
Based on what kind of surface you are playing on you will need different types of balls with unique features. If you just want to play on grass or artificial turf you will have a much wider selection to choose from. You can also get a softer and lighter ball. It will give you more precision and better touch.
However, you should go for tougher balls if you want to play on hard or abrasive surfaces. This, however, will hurt your ability to shoot and control the ball properly. If you want a harder, more durable ball you will have to accept this.
In 1996 FIFA developed a quality assurance program for all soccer balls. The objective to was to make sure the new balls always evolved in tandem with the sport. They are put through quite rigorous testing to make sure they are up to standard. I
Based on the game’s rules, every ball must have one of the FIFA quality seals in order to be allowed in any FIFA or soccer confederation competition. These seals are as follows: FIFA Quality PRO, FIFA Quality and IMS (International Match Standard).
Most people, especially soccer fans, will opt for replica balls when possible, especially those from popular international competitions like the World Cup. They are more affordable than the originals, look and feel great, and you generally don’t need professional quality at the amateur level.
Contrary to what you might think, comparative analyses carried out on different soccer balls have proven that replicas are not of poor quality.
These studies measured sphericity, dimensions, weight, aerodynamics, shape retention, loss of pressure, water absorption and bounce.
If you are just getting a soccer ball for messing around in the front yard or at the park you don’t need to think too hard about the specifications. You will want an appropriately sized ball and something that is going to hold up well to playing on rough or hard surfaces. You don’t need to think too much about how it will fly and grip, however. Mikasa makes good quality all-purpose balls.
As we mentioned, these harder balls aren’t as accurate or easily controlled as the lighter, softer balls. But this is not a major concern if you are just playing street ball. The main thing is that the ball is tough and will last you a while.
Soccer balls have been commonplace in American homes for decades now. The evolution of the balls has taken us from roots and leather to great synthetic materials that are engineered to perfection. In many places around the world, it is still common to see kids running down the street kicking cans, balls or paper, even pieces of fruit. From pig bladders and rubber to modern synthetics, balls have come a long way.
The advances in ball technology have been good for both professional and amateur players. The public can now buy products that closely approximate professional-quality ones at affordable prices. There are great deals out there and really high-quality balls out there, but finding one does require knowing what to look for.
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(Source of featured image: Blach: 71942922/ 123rf.com)