Equipment: Choosing the Right Soccer Ball for School Teams and Physical Education Classes

Equipment: Choosing the Right Soccer Ball for School Teams and Physical Education Classes

Michelle Gaus, Contributor

It's time to re-stock your school's supply of soccer balls. But which balls should you choose? Here's a brief guide.

There are three standard sizes:

Size 3

  • The smallest balls - used for players under eight years of age.
  • Usually 23 -24 inches in circumference, with a weight of about 12 ounces

Size 4

  • Used for 8 - 12 year olds
  • Usually 25-26 inches with a weight of 12-13 ounces

Size 5

  • International standard ball for 13 and older players.
  • Usually 27-28 inches in circumference with a weight of 14 -16 ounces


1. Material
• Synthetic balls are the best quality, offering superior feel and softness but are less durability and water resistance. They are a lot more expensive.

• Polyurethane balls have the feel of the synthetic or leather balls and the durability of plastic balls. They often have a glossy, protective coating.

• The cheapest balls are the PVC or plastic balls. They are more durable and water resistant but do not feel as soft as polyurethane balls. They also tend to have a glossy coating for protection.

2. Stitching
The best quality balls are stitched with a polyester thread. The higher-end balls are actually hand-stitched while mid-priced balls are machine-stitched. Lower-end balls generally have glued panels.

3. Panels
Fewer panels provide less stability when the ball is in the air, but mean it can be curved more. Thirty-two panel balls are most common and are most commonly used in professional matches. Eighteen and 27-panels are also common and are used in some professional leagues.

Until 1996, most soccer balls were being produced by little kids in sweat shops in Pakistan.

Contributor: Michelle Gaus is a physical educator at Belle River District High School, in Belle River, Ontario.
Reference: "How to Buy a Soccer Ball." Dick's Sporting, 2008.

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© 2008, Physical Education Update,

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