WRITTEN BY: COACH BRUCE LOVELACE
UPDATED ON: JANUARY 6, 2024
You're wondering what size is a youth soccer ball and what size you need for your child. It can be confusing to know how big of a soccer ball you need for each age level. This helpful guide will answer your questions.
There are 5 sizes of soccer balls and 3 of those sizes are made for kids to play soccer games with. Here are the 3 sizes of youth soccer balls that are made for kids to play with during live soccer matches.
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 actually 5 different youth soccer ball sizes in total.
Three of the soccer ball sizes are used in actual games. They are size 3, size 4, and size 5 balls. Take a quick look at this 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.
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.
*** 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. And naturally higher performing soccer balls have a bigger price tag.
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.
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.
Soccer ball size can also change as it ages depending on what it's made of. Different materials may age in different ways.
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.
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.
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 never used a pressure gauge to measure the pressure in a soccer ball and I probably should have.
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. More on proper soccer ball air pressure.
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.
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. 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.
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 they are 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, size 5.
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?
Kids will naturally want to use their hands on a soccer ball. If you think about it, it really is understandable and you shouldn't get too upset when your toddler or preschooler is using their hands rather than kicking the soccer ball. After all, kids develop fine motor skills far faster with their hands than their feet.
Yes, you can remind them, but another way I've found successful is to read them a story called "Froggy Plays Soccer." I've used it at least once every soccer season when bad weather has prevented us from running one of our preschool sessions outdoors.
It's a cute story, appropriate for kids ages 7 and under, and it's simple to read and well illustrated. To accelerate the kids learning curve, I'll have the kids repeat out loud some of the messages in the book each time they appear.
This includes say: "And don't use your hands." It has helped a lot in getting the kids using their feet on their favorite sized soccer ball rather than their hands .
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?
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How about what size goal your child should be using? Soccer net size is just as important as the correct size for your child's soccer ball. This article has everything thing you need to know about soccer goal dimensions and more.
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