Football Buyers Guide

When it comes to discovering the best equipment for your team, finding the right football should be at the top of your list. Where once our national teams settled for heavy leather balls as standard, today modern technology means we can improve the performance of every player by choosing the perfect footballs. There are a number of different considerations you should take into account when searching for the perfect ball. These include factors such as the age of your players, the pitch surface type and expected weather conditions.

We’ve broken the main sections down here to help you discover the right ball for your club.

Football Sizes

The first thing to consider is size. Footballs come in a range of sizes, commonly up to a size 5. This is to cater for players of all different ages and, also, for the different training regimes you may encounter during a season. The three main sizes are:

Size 3 - Suitable for players aged 6-9 years old
Size 4 - Suitable for players ages 9-14 years old
Size 5 - Suitable for players aged 14+ years

For professional games, you are most likely to find size 5 footballs being used. The exception here may be during training sessions where the aim is to improve coordination and accuracy.

For younger players - those under 6 years old - many major brands will also produce balls in both Size 1 and Size 2. These are also commonly known as Mini Footballs or Midi Footballs, depending on the brand you’re looking for. These balls are, as their name suggests, smaller in size and ideal for those just starting out with the game of football. Some coaches also include these compact balls in their training plans to challenge skilled players on their speed and agility.

Types of Footballs

Footballs can be split into 3 groupings when it comes to their purpose. Although many balls are interchangeable, it is common for them to be constructed specifically to suit to purpose of a particular activity. The three main types of football are:

Match Day Footballs

As the name suggests, these balls are designed and constructed for use during matches. Commonly, they are made from the strongest and most expensive materials. This allows them to provide the performance needed by players to win those all important games. These balls are usually durable, covered in attractive patterns and made to offer high playability at all times. Examples include the Mitre Ultimatch Max Hyperseam or the Nike Strike Team football.

Training Footballs

This type of football is designed to last through an entire season of intense training sessions. For this reason, they are constructed for durability, a low level of maintenance and consistent play. They come with a range of different patterns - usually bold to help develop ball tracking skills - and will push your players to improve their footballer quality. Good examples of training footballs include the Mitre Malmo Plus or the Nike Pitch football.

Vulcanised Rubber Footballs

This is a more versatile option which can be used for both training sessions or match day play. The key difference is their use - this type of football is designed primarily to be used on rough or more abrasive surfaces. They are highly durable for use all season long but can offer a reduced consistency due to the denser material use. Take a look at the Mitre Tactic or the Nike Ordem V footballs for good examples of vulcanised rubber balls.

Football materials

The material of your football will help to determine the playability, consistency and results of every session. There are a range of different materials you will encounter as you shop for the ideal football.

  • PU - This synthetic material is commonly chosen for its enhanced water resistance and durability during intense play. You will normally find it used on match day footballs due to the increased price and heightened feel for players. It gives the best performance out of all the materials in our list. 
  • PVC - This synthetic material offers good durability making it ideal for abrasive surfaces such as sand-based Astro turf. It is mostly used for training footballs as it promises to stand up to the most intense sessions throughout the entire season. 
  • TPU - Another strong option for training footballs, TPU is practically abrasion resistant. It is softer than PVC and offers a higher strength but does come with an additional price tag as a result.

Football stitching methods

The way in which a football is stitched can also have a dramatic difference on its performance. There are 3 main forms of stitching to consider:

Machine stitched footballs

The majority of footballs are constructed using machine stitching methods. This process reduces costs and manufacture time. The strong stitching holds up against rigorous play and has a uniformed look along with consistency. The downside here is that machine stitching does nothing to benefit the football in terms of play or consistency, in the way that other methods can.

Hand stitched footballs

Hand stitched footballs are usually more expensive due to the labour and quality of their construction. In contrast to machine methods, hand stitching is deeper and pulls the ball’s surface to a tighter tension. In turn this improves play and aerodynamics over all - making it a fine choice for match day footballs.

Bonded seams

The newest form of football construction are bonded or joined stitches. Here, the individual panels of a football are fused together through a form of welding. This process dramatically improves a ball’s water resistance, therefore protecting the shape and size during play. It gives a stability that lends itself to both match games and training sessions perfectly.

Type of internal bladder

All footballs will have some form of internal bladder integrated into the design. This holds the air pumped into it and helps to maintain the shape of the ball during play. The right internal bladder will play a significant role in the performance and consistency of your footballs. Therefore, it is another factor that you should consider. There are 2 main types of bladder found on the market:

Latex Bladder

A latex bladder will usually be found in match day balls due to the high bounce and elasticity. Commonly, they offer the best performance during short periods of time and allow your players to play the best 90 minutes every time. They are also best for grass surfaces with their soft surface. However, latex bladders are notoriously porous. This means that, over time, they will require more frequent inflation that other options and are therefore high maintenance.

Butyl bladder

The newer option found on the market, butyl bladders are designed to compete with their latex alternatives. They have been specifically designed to retain air for longer. Although commonly heavier than latex bladders, they will help to maintain your ball’s rounded shape and size. This makes them perfect for the footballs used on a regular basis - primarily training footballs.

We have a wide collection of the most popular brands of football available at Clubline Football. Whether you’re looking for a machine stitched training ball such as the Mitre Delta Fluo Replica Football or a high performance match day ball such as the Nike Premier Team FIFA football. Browse our website today for our full range or contact us on +44 (0)1922 745 749 for friendly and professional advice.