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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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?
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. That brings us to an important issue.
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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