When it comes to choosing a football, there are a few key criteria to remember. Whether it is for yourself, your team or somebody else, it is important to purchase the right ball so that it can be used to its full potential. Lets take a look at the important things to remember when buying a football.
Not all footballs are created equal. One of the largest areas of difference among footballs is sizing. There are a total of four different sizes of football. These different sizes serve a purpose they allow everybody to experience the game with the same amount of ease and excitement. For example, a five-year-old child will most likely find it easier and more enjoyable playing with a ball proportionate to their size, rather than with an adult-sized ball.
As mentioned earlier, there are four different football sizes. Size 1 is the smallest and Size 5 is the largest. Below is a full size breakdown.
Size 5 footballs are best suited for players aged 13 and older, including adults. This is also the regulation size for all professional players. Size 5 footballs have a circumference of 68.5 - 70cm and weigh between 410 and 450 grams. Size 5 balls are best used for matches, training drills and general play.
Size 4 footballs are best suited for players aged 9-12. Size 4 footballs have a circumference of 63.5 - 66cm and weigh between 330 and 390 grams. The smaller size allows for players aged 9-12 allows players to get familiar with their ability and overall skill set. Players may find that the Size 5 ball is too large and too heavy to practice effectively, when it comes to areas such as shooting and dribbling. Size 4 balls are best used for matches, training drills and general play.
Size 3 footballs are best suited for players aged 4-8. Size 3 footballs have a circumference of 62 - 63.5cm and weight between 300 and 340 grams. The Size 3 ball is the smallest ball that will be used in matches. The size 3 ball is best for players aged between 4 and 8 as it allows children to develop their skills with a ball that is big enough to kick and control easily, without being too big that they are unable to get any distance on their kick or risk tripping over a ball which reaches their knees. Size 3 balls are best used for matches, training drills and general play.
Size 1 / Mini
Size 1 balls are commonly known as 'Mini' balls. These are the smallest football available. Mini balls have a circumference of 45 - 50cm. A Mini ball is best suited for young children, souvenirs and entertainment. They can also be helpful for developing close control skills such as juggling. Mini balls will not be seen in matches.
FIFA Quality Match Balls
If you have ever looked through the range of footballs available at The Soccer Shop, you will have noticed that some of the more expensive balls have labels on them saying things such as 'FIFA Quality' and 'FIFA Quality Pro'. Below is the full breakdown of what these different labels mean.
There are 3 variations of the FIFA Quality labels. 'FIFA Quality Pro,' 'FIFA Quality' and 'International Match Standard'. The labels for each of these are shown above. These labels are printed on all sorts of different balls which have been tested by FIFA themselves. 'FIFA Quality Pro' is the highest certification followed by 'FIFA Quality' and 'International Match Standard.'
FIFA Quality Pro
'FIFA Quality Pro' is the highest certification that can be given to any ball and is reserved for only the best standard of match ball available. Footballs with the 'FIFA Quality Pro' label are used in the World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the English Premier League and other top competitions. There are seven tests that are run before the 'Quality Pro' stamp is awarded.
Bounce: At room temperature, the ball must bounce between 135 and 155cm when dropped 10 times from a height of 2m on to a steel plate. The temperatures are then changed from heated to freezing and the ball must still bounce between 125 and 155cm.
Circumference: Size 5 'FIFA Quality Pro footballs' must have a circumference between 68.6 and 69.5 cm.
Weight: Size 5 'FIFA Quality Pro footballs' must weigh between 420 and 445 g.
Roundness: When fully inflated, the roundness of the ball may not vary by more than 1.5%. This is to ensure that the ball will have a perfect flight
Water absorption: This is tested by immersing the ball in a tank of water. It is then squeezed and turned 250 times. 'FIFA Quality Pro' balls must not absorb more than 10% of their capacity in water. This is to ensure that the ball does not become too heavy and will still fly perfectly in wet conditions.
Loss of Pressure: A 'FIFA Quality Pro' ball is pumped up in the laboratory and left for 72 hours - after which it cannot have lost more than 20% of its pressure.
Shape and size retention: This test is only used on FIFA Quality Pro footballs, and is designed to ensure the ball can keep its shape under all conditions. The ball is fired at a steel plate at 31 mph over 2,000 times. Only balls which show no signs of damage and whose circumference does not change by more than 1.5 cm can receive the certification.
The 'FIFA Quality' certification is given to match balls suitable for use in International friendlies and Confederation matches. A 'FIFA Quality' ball undergoes the same testing as a 'FIFA Quality Pro' ball, with the exception of the shape & size retention test. A 'FIFA Quality' ball does not have to reach the same specifications as a 'FIFA Quality Pro' ball, though it is still thoroughly tested. Overall, there is very little difference between a 'FIFA Quality Pro' and a 'FIFA Quality' ball. Both variants will provide a fantastic experience for the user with very little to separate them.
IMS (International Match Standard)
IMS and FIFA Quality use very similar certification standards. FIFA Quality tests are conducted in a Swiss test institute, while 'IMS' tests are conducted in 7 FIFA-designated European laboratories. 'IMS' tests do not require manufacturers to pay an accreditation fee unlike the FIFA tests. Otherwise, the 'IMS' certification is almost identical to the 'FIFA Quality' certification.