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After playing on a wet field, wipe down your soccer ball to prevent tracking grass clippings, pesticides, or dirt into your bag or car.
After playing on a wet field, wipe down your soccer ball to prevent tracking grass clippings, pesticides, or dirt into your bag or car. (BestReviews)

Corner kick, free kick, or a penalty? Next time you go for the equalizer, make sure you're kicking a top-notch soccer ball.

In a sport designed for all ages, it's no surprise that soccer balls come in a variety of sizes. While they maintain relatively similar construction between styles, there are slight design variations that affect the look and feel of the ball. Better materials and tighter stitching ensures a well-inflated ball, which in turn improves overall ball handling. There are also club-themed soccer balls, so if Manchester United or Real Madrid inspires your playing style -- have at it.

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Get your head in the game with a brand-new soccer ball. We've assembled this buying guide to help you find the best one. Our top pick, the Mikasa Serious Soccer Ball, has a soft cover that's preferred by players who like to head the ball.

Considerations when choosing soccer balls

Ball size

Soccer balls come in five sizes to accommodate the age and skill level of players:

Size 5:

This is the official size, also called regulation size, used for teen and adult leagues. The circumference is between 27 and 28 inches.

Size 4:

Often referred to as youth size, these balls measure between 25 and 24 inches and are used by elementary-age students.

Size 3:

These junior-size soccer balls are intended for ages 8 and below and measure between 23 and 24 inches.

Size 1 or 2:

Also called mini balls, these are approximately 18 to 22 inches. They're not intended for actual game play, except for recreational or casual matches for kids ages four and five.

Game variation balls

Everyone knows that soccer is the number one sport in the world, but did you know the sport has been adapted into other gameplay styles? Here are some games growing in popularity, some of which can be played indoors.

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Beach soccer

utilizes size 5 balls. These soccer balls are generally lighter than those used on grassy pitches, as they're often kicked barefoot.

FootGolf

is played on a golf course, also with size 4 soccer balls. Players aim at large holes on fairways, and get considerable exercise walking the course.

Futsal

is played on indoor hard surfaces in over 100 countries. Players use a heavier size 4 ball in these games.

Indoor soccer

uses a size 5 ball for adult games, and sizes 3 or 4 in youth games. These have slightly less bounce than regular soccer balls.

Soccer ball design

The iconic black and white soccer ball consists of 20 hexagon panels and 12 pentagon panels. More recently, manufacturers have experimented with various panel designs and sizes.

In addition to edgy, modern looks, soccer ball manufacturers actually engineer new designs to achieve the best ball flight. With that said, be sure to check with your league and referee to confirm your new, stylish soccer ball is within regulation.

Construction

Soccer balls are made of an exterior cover and a bladder, which holds the air.

Cover

Covers are made of polyurethane (PU), polyvinyl carbonate (PVC), or synthetic leather. PU covers have a soft feel and offer superior ball control. PVC covers are far more durable but don't have the same top-quality feel. To get the best of both worlds, many players choose synthetic covers.

Bladder

Bladders are made of either latex or butyl. Latex bladders are preferred for their quality and feel, though you'll be filling these up with air rather often. Butyl bladders, on the other hand, retain air much better, though they are significantly harder.

Price

For an everyday practice ball or mini ball, expect to spend up to $25. If you'd like a regulation ball of modest quality, you'll spend closer to $50. High-end soccer balls cost between $50 and $150 and are mainly used in professional and semi-pro leagues.

FAQ

Q. Do soccer balls come with their own pumps?

A. Most soccer balls are sold on their own unless they're part of a deluxe package including the pump or other accessories. If you'd like to save money, you might be able to score a deal when purchasing the ball and a pump at the same time.

Q. Should I be using a smaller soccer ball for practice?

A. Especially if you're already playing with a size 5 ball, it's better not to go smaller to avoid potential ball-handling regression. You may wish to purchase a less expensive size 5 ball for practice and save your top-quality one for matches.

Soccer balls we recommend

Best of the best: Mikasa's Serious Soccer Ball

Our take: Performance soccer ball available in five colors. Well-liked among competitive and league players.

What we like: Synthetic materials make it easy to kick and construction gives it a solid but controlled bounce.

What we dislike: Ball comes deflated, so make sure you have a pump.

Best bang for your buck: Wilson's Traditional Soccer Ball

Our take: Affordable quality from a reputable sports equipment brand. Classic design.

What we like: Available in three sizes. Appropriate for street, field, and yard play.

What we dislike: Susceptible to scuffs. Occasional issues with leaking.

Our take: Top-notch construction. Modern panel construction stays inflated longer and holds up to heavy use.

What we like: Sturdy synthetic material and is available in multiple sizes. Comes in a variety of team colors.

What we dislike: Some challenges with inflation. Arrives deflated, so you'll need a pump.

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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