Soccer balls come in multiple colors and sizes so I want to point out what is the official soccer ball size as a guide to parents. No doubt without a soccer ball there will be no game or training but what is the right ball for the kids to play with?
Will any soccer ball do?
Follow me as I dive into the topic.
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1. What Is A Soccer Ball?
The soccer ball, also commonly known as football, football ball, or association ball, is the ball used in playing soccer. It is spherical in shape and comes in various sizes, weights, and materials.
All these specifications are governed by the International Football Association Board, FIFA, and subordinate governing bodies for approval to use in competitions.
The soccer ball has come a long way from being a leather bag filled with cork shavings to using an animal bladder filled with air inside the outer covering.
In 1838 Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber, this material changed the way soccer balls are made and it has been that way ever since. Vulcanized rubber is strong and elastic thus making the soccer ball bouncy and easier to kick.
During that time the vulcanized bladder is inserted into a leather covering that is hand-stitched and has lacing for closure.
Since then the soccer ball has evolved with technology to what is today.
The modern-day soccer ball is still made of the butyl rubber bladder, then is cover with a layer of cotton or polyester, and the final outer is made of leather or synthetic leather.
2. FIFA Regulations
All soccer balls are not created equal and they come in different sizes as you will soon find out below.
These ball sizes are designed for different age groups.
Even if you have the correct size you must also check if it has the right amount of air and weight.
All soccer ball sizes are set by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer.
In the US, the US Youth Soccer, NFHS (high school), and NCAA (college) also set their own requirements of the size of the ball.
NFHS and NCAA require that a size 5 soccer ball must be spherical, no more than 27 inches, and the pressure in the ball must be between 8.5 to 15.6 PSI (pound per square inch).
All FIFA approved, NFHS, and NCAA recommended match balls have their approval stamp on the side of the ball.
Most balls indicated their size on the side and the recommended air pressure (PSI) is normally around the valve of the ball as shown in the image below:
3. Why Soccer Ball Size Matters?
For various reasons.
Firstly for safety, especially for young players. An adult size 4 ball can hurt a young player because it is big, heavy, and also too hard to kick.
Any young player below 6 can hurt her foot or when she gets hit by it.
I am speaking from experience here when I was a kid I played soccer a lot but one day someone pumped the ball too strong.
During the match, my first kick on the ball was my last on that day, as I hobbled to the sideline.
It feels like I have just slammed my foot on a medicine ball! The medicine ball can weigh more than 35 ounces.
Training with the wrong size can put your kid in a disadvantaged position because when he played in a match that uses the correct size he may find it difficult to adjust.
Besides, the wrong size ball will be too small or too big and will never be fun for your kids.
4. The Official Ball Size Guide
Size 1 & 2 Ball
Size 1 ball is the smallest official size.
Both ball sizes are normally used by toddlers as a toy, furthermore, this is the ball they use for soccer training early age. They are small and light so they can throw and kick them without causing any injuries.
Adults and pro soccer players also used this ball for training to refine their dribbling and handling skills. It is also a good souvenir, gift, and brand advertising.
Size 3 Ball
Suitable for kids older than 5 years.
You will find this the ball size most kindergarten will use for PE and learning but older kids and adults can use this ball for training as well
Size 4 Ball
The size 4 ball is recommended for kids between 8 – 11 years old but can be used by older kids and adults for training as well.
This ball size is popular in primary schools and kids’ soccer club training.
Size 5 Ball
This is the largest size ball for use by kids over 11 years and older.
You will see them used in youth and adult soccer training.
5. Match Ball Versus Training Ball
Match balls are used for a soccer match according to the right size and training balls are used for training and recreation.
Training balls are more durable as they are designed to be played in almost any environment whereas match balls are built for high performance and not for durability.
Match balls are hand-stitched and are a bit bouncier than the training ball which was stitched by machine.
The outer layer of the training ball is made of PVC (polyvinyl carbonate) while the match ball is made of PU (polyurethane) which makes the ball softer.
PU soccer balls have a glossy coating to reduce water absorption and scratching the surface of the ball but they have a better response off the foot than the PVC training balls.
Match balls can be 3 times more expensive than the training ball because they can withstand different weather conditions and withstand intense use under a short period of use.
That is why you will find that match balls are not used for training as compared to the training,
When buying a soccer ball, it can be tricky to differentiate between the match ball and a training ball but the price will reveal which is which.
6. Choosing A Soccer Ball
Due to the price and its purpose, I would not recommend you to buy a match ball for your kid’s training, unless your kid’s training needs it.
If you are not sure if your kid can play with the recommended size it is best to start with a smaller sized ball and work up from there.
Now that you have some inside knowledge about ball specification it is always good to check the balls your kid’s team is playing with.
I hope you learned something today.
Do girls play with a smaller sized soccer ball or not?
Let me know in the comment below.
Related: 10 Best Soccer Balls For Kids 2020
US Youth Soccer | Wikipedia | FIFA
Images: Pixabay | 1930s Soccer Ball by Joe Mabel