Known for being a fun sport that is accessible to players of all ages and abilities, football is a hugely diverse game. Not just a choice between 5-a-side or 11-a-side, there’s a type of football for everyone to enjoy and every one of them has a different type of ball.
In order to help you source the right equipment for your players, we’ve put together this guide to choosing the right football. With overviews on which balls are best for the type of football you play, along with a football size guide full of information about football sizes for age groups in the UK, your players can enjoy playing safely with our advice.
How do you pick a football?
The first step in picking the correct football is to first consider your specific circumstances. If you’re an adult playing 11-a-side football on a grass pitch you’ll need a completely different ball to a 10 year old playing indoor football. Not only is playing with the correct type of football likely to increase your performance standards but, in the case of younger players especially, it's also a highly important safety consideration that needs to be made.
When you’re making the choice of which football you need for safe play, there are two primary considerations you should make: what type of football are you going to be playing and what is the age of the players? Age and type of football being played may seem inconsequential but, as you’ll see below, the differences between the balls in each category can be significant, so whether you’re looking for yourself or a team you coach, make sure you’re fully informed.
Choosing the right ball for the type of football
The type of football you’ll need is dependent on a number of factors, the most important of which are purpose (training or match day), terrain (grass or hard flooring) and football game type (standard or futsal). Each factor will change exactly what areas of performance needs to be prioritised and tailoring your ball to each circumstance will help ensure your performance is as optimised as possible.
While the specific ball you choose to use for your training will change depending on the terrain you’re playing on, for example indoors or on specialist surfaces like sand, most players will opt for a standard training football. As these balls are likely to be in use often and for longer periods, particularly if used in schools or clubs, they’re designed with a tough PU or PVC skin that extends the lifespan of the ball. A high quality training ball will be able to keep up with any training schedule, won’t be easily abrasied and should maintain its shape for longer.
Match day footballs
Used less often than training footballs, match day footballs are designed to optimise your performance by offering superior accuracy and power when you need it most. Unlike other ball types, the materials of a match day football are dependent mostly on how much you intend to spend. Premium footballs are likely to feature a durable PU outer layer with a latex bladder for optimum performance, while some even feature an inner layer of foam to boost ball speed. Cheaper match day footballs are more likely to have a PVC outer layer and a butyl bladder which can have a slight negative impact on performance.
A specific type of football game that is almost always played indoors, futsal requires a ball that is durable enough to withstand being played on tough surfaces that give little to no resistance while still retaining its shape. Because of this, futsal balls are often made with a tough PU leather. The hard surface and smaller space that futsal is played in also means that futsal balls need to have a reduced bounce, allowing for closer control. In order to achieve this, most futsal balls have a soft foam lining which cushions the impact of the ball against the hard surface, limiting its rebound and increasing the player's control.
Slightly different to a futsal ball, standard indoor footballs are made with a PVC outer, as opposed to a PU leather layer. The properties of these balls are largely the same as they're both built with a decreased rebound to standard footballs and are durable enough to withstand the hard laminate surfaces of indoor sporting halls. The primary difference is more to do with the intended purpose. Standard indoor footballs are typically used in schools due to their durable bladders and outer material meaning they need minimal maintenance.
Football size guide
While the type of football you’re playing with is undoubtedly important for boosting your performance according to play type and terrain, choosing a football based on size is an important safety consideration to make. Particularly important for football coaches and schools to be aware of, footballs are categorised by size, each of which has a recommended age group. The common recommended football sizes for age groups in the UK are as follows:
Size 5 football - Ages 14+ (Including adults)
Size 4 football - Ages 9 - 14
Size 3 football - Ages 6 - 9
While these three sizes are most commonly used, some retailers will also sell size 1 and size 2 footballs. While not held to the same size and weight regulations as sizes 3-5, these mini footballs are usually recommended for use by very young children under the age of 6.
Equip your team with the right football gear at Avec Sport
The importance of playing with the right type of equipment in any sport cannot be overstated and football is no exception. Ensure your play is safe and your team is given the chance to shine with a high quality football by shopping at Avec Sport.
With three sizes to choose from in our training football, practicing your skills during sessions is made simple and safe. Avec Sport also offers the option to buy in bulk meaning the whole team can be supplied with high quality training footballs that last.