What Size Is A Youth Soccer Ball?

You're wondering what size is a youth soccer ball and what size you need for your child. Let's dive in with the quick abbreviated answer. Size 5 is for 13 year olds and up. A size 4 youth soccer ball is for 8-12 year old players and a size 3 soccer ball is for under 8 year olds.

This post will help you how figure how big of a soccer ball your child should play with. You can get a real good idea of what size the balls are by looking at the actual dimensions and weight of each youth soccer ball. There are actual 5 different youth soccer ball sizes in total. Take a quick look at this soccer ball size chart.

Youth soccer ball size chartYouth Soccer Ball Size Chart

When I did the research for this article it struck me as quite odd that soccer ball sizes are described in terms of circumference. I've been involved in coaching youth soccer at various age levels for over 23 years, but have never been heavily involved with soccer equipment.

Kid's and youth soccer ball circumference

I don't understand why soccer ball circumferences are used to compare sizes and not diameters. Here are the best soccer ball sizes, expressed as "Under-Age." As an example U-12 is the abbreviation for under 12 years old. Here are the youth soccer ball sizes, the corresponding age brackets, and their respective weights and sizes in circumference.

Size 3 soccer ball


***U-8, U-7, U-6, and younger. Size 3 is the official soccer ball for toddlers and young children. It has a circumference of 23-24 inches and should weight between 11-12 ounce. Size 3 is the smallest official ball for playing actual games.

Size 4 soccer ball


***U-9, U-10, U-11 & U-12. Size 4 is the standard soccer ball for kids aged between nine and 11 years old. It has a circumference of 25-26 inches and a weight of 11-13 ounces.

Size 5 soccer ball


***U-13 and older. The regulation size soccer ball, size 5, is played by youth players when they reach the age of 12. Size 5 is also the sized used for all professional soccer leagues and tournaments all over the world. Circumference is 27-28 inches and and the weight is between 14-16 ounces.

*** Note that different leagues may have different birthday cut-off dates. You should ask one of your knowledgeable league representatives what age bracket your child will be placed in.


If you compare the different circumference sizes it appears that there is very little difference between these 3 soccer ball sizes. Surprisingly, there is a big difference with respect on how the ball behaves among the different sizes.

Despite the seemingly close mathematical measurements, it is important for your child to play with the appropriately sized ball. Your child will have more fun and will develop their soccer skill set better with the right size of youth soccer ball.

FAQ about soccer ball sizes

how can i calculate the diameter of a youth soccer ball

Most balls are fairly well marked with their size, but if you want to find out for sure, you're in luck. There is a way you can actually measure the size of a youth soccer ball to see if it is the right size for your child.

The best method is to measure the diameter of your child's ball and then calculate. Fully inflate your child's soccer ball and then follow the simple 3 step method.

1. Place your ball on the floor against a closed door and press a picture frame (or other 90 degree angle object) up against the opposite side of the ball.

2. Measure the distance from the door to the bottom of the picture frame . That measurement equals the diameter of your soccer ball.

3. Multiply the diameter by 3.14 to get the circumference of your child's soccer ball.

measure soccer ball diameter

WHY do NEW SOCCER BALLS ALWAYS SEEM SMALLer than used soccer balls?

Newer soccer balls seem smaller because they actually are. When a ball is kicked, pressure causes the threads to pull against the outside material covering on the ball. With repeated kicks or hits, the soccer ball will expand slightly. Depending on the quality of the ball, it's been estimated that older soccer balls can be up to 20% larger than the same ball when it was new.

New soccer ball vs old soccer ball sizeOlder soccer balls stretch as they wear.

For youth soccer, this isn't a big deal, but technically it could exceed FIFA's required ball specifications. In official soccer tournaments, regulations require that new balls are used for the games, but in everyday practices for youth soccer, older balls are fine to use.


how does the size of a youth soccer ball compare with other sports balls?

To give you an idea on how the largest of the youths soccer balls compares with the balls from other sports, I grabbed this illustration from www.topendsports.com. You can see that the closet ball in size to a size 5 soccer ball is a volleyball.

sports ball size comparisonImage from www.topendsports.com. Soccer Ball is Size 5.

what's the right air pressure for a youth soccer ball?

The answer if 8.7 PSI (pounds per square inch). That's the "precise" answer to how much air pressure should be in your child's soccer ball. That's from the official soccer ball  specification rules. You can measure it with a pressure gauge if you need an exact amount. In almost 25 years of coaching youth soccer I've never used a pressure gauge to measure the pressure in a soccer ball.

Here's more of a practical answer. A higher pressure will make the ball skin tighter and the ball will be faster in bouncing higher and farther and is harder to control. Less air pressure will cause the ball to slow down and is easier to control. Soccer balls for young children can be inflated to the needs of the situation. Air pressure can be chosen based on the player's skill level, field conditions, and yes, the weather. 


what size is a futsal ball

Size 4 Futsal soccer ball


Futsal generally uses a size 4 ball, the same size that is used for 8-12 year olds in regular soccer. By contrast, the ball is made out of a different material and may be filled with foam to make it have less bounce to it. 

Futsal is played 5 players a side either indoor or carpet or on an Astroturf type of perfectly flat soccer field. A FIFA approved Futsal ball has to have a circumference size of 24.61-25.0 inches.


sizes of other specialty soccer balls

We just covered the size of futsal soccer balls, but what about other specialty soccer ball sizes ? In addition to regular soccer played on grass surfaces, there are a number of unique variations to playing soccer.

Beach Soccer Ball


Beach soccer. The ball used in official beach soccer games is a size 5 but is slightly lighter, 14-15½ ounces. It is often brightly colored to make it more visible on a sandy playing ground.  

Fuzzy indoor soccer ball


Indoor soccer. Like in futsal, the ball size for indoor soccer is number 4. It's covered with felt or suede. However, indoor soccer balls are typically bouncier than in futsal.

 

Five-a-side soccer. Five-v-five soccer, or even if you played seven-v-seven, is played with slightly different rules from regular soccer but it is still played with the standard soccer ball.

dick's sporting goods video on ball sizes:

If you'd like another way to get a perspective on the different sizes of youth soccer balls you can watch this short video produced by DICKSTM  Sporting Goods. Interestingly, they skipped over size 2 soccer balls. Perhaps it's because they don't sell that size?



a few random comments about soccer balls and sizes

In all the years I've coached youth soccer, I haven't found any benefit to using soccer balls that are smaller than a size 3. At one time, I owned a franchise that specialized in kids ages 2 through 6, with several hundred kids participating every season. Anything less than a size 3 ball was too difficult to control, particularly on a regular grass surface. The exception to this is the older kids with advanced skills. They will benefit from fine-tuning their ball skills by juggling and dribbling size 2 balls.

“FIFA Inspected” soccer balls usually are more expensive, so you can consider using them only for match play.

The decrease in size that comes along with a size 4 ball versus a size 5 has benefits. It allows the younger age group to get accustomed to their skill set. Players in this U-13 may find it difficult to practice their ball skills and dribbling technique if they use a size 5 ball.

A size 3 soccer ball is typically best suited for children ages 8 or younger. Measuring 23″-24″ in circumference and weighing roughly 300-320 grams, this soccer ball size is the smallest that you’ll see in competitive play. This small youth ball is a great option because it encourages proper ball handling for youngsters and is properly proportioned to most kids at this age group.

Size 1 balls, the soft cushiony type are great toys for toddlers. The only problem is that toddlers will use their hands before their feet because they are so easy and enjoyable to grasp and throw.

Cool soccer balls for kids

What kind of soccer balls do kids like? Here's a few that are sure to tickle your kids fancy. How about you? If you were playing youth soccer, which soccer ball would you pick?

Spiderman soccer ballSpiderman
Wonder Woman soccer ballWonder Woman
Smiley face soccer ballSmiley Face
Superman soccer ballSuperman
pink soccer ballPretty Pink
Pokemon soccer ballPokemon
Animal soccer ballAnimal
Frozen soccer ballFrozen

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