Picking the best soccer ball for your needs can be tricky. Different balls are designed for different types of player – and there are literally thousands of options on the market.
In this guide we’ll detail our picks for the 10 best soccer balls available in 2019, in terms of value for money. We’ll assess the durability, feel when playing, and overall quality of each ball we review.
In a rush? Use our handy table to quickly compare our top picks.
- Soccer Ball Buyer’s Guide
- Best Soccer Balls For The Money
- Best Official Match Ball Soccer Balls
Soccer Ball Buyer’s Guide
In this section we’ll outline some key things to consider when buying a new soccer ball.
Official match ball vs replica: what’s the difference?
When a tournament is held (like the FIFA World Cup), the sponsor of the event will design a brand new ball. These are official match balls – they’re used by professionals during real matches. They are designed to the highest possible build quality, have textured surfaces to improve stability in flight, and feature thermally-bonded panels for durability.
The downside? They’re expensive. Like, really expensive, depending on which one you get. Whether you really need one depends on your budget and how you’re going to be using your ball. For example, I use official match balls for practicing freekicks because they fly through the air really nicely. However, I don’t use them for training because if I lose my ball I’ll be set back $100-$300.
On the other hand, replicas (sometimes called training balls or gliders) are designed to be just like the official match balls but are much cheaper. Their panels are often stitched rather than thermally-bonded and are made of a different material. However, they’re not necessarily less durable than official match balls. So, they’re the recommended option for most players.
There are also balls made by smaller brands which aren’t replicas and haven’t been used in official tournaments. For the purposes of this guide we’ve included them as replicas because they’re similarly priced.
Who are official match balls and replica soccer balls suitable for?
- Serious players
- Current/aspiring professional players
- Free kick specialists
- Casual players
- Children (size 3 or 4 is best for kids under age 12)
- Pets (dogs love to chew on soccer balls!)
Soccer ball sizes
Soccer balls come in sizes from 1-5. The smallest is size 1 and the biggest (what the pros use) is size 5.
If your kid is 12 or older, they’ll need a size 5 ball. However, younger players may need a size 3 or 4 ball.
Toddlers can use size 1, 2 or 3 balls. Since kids grow so quickly, it’s probably better to buy a size 3 so that they can get used to using a bigger ball with a bit more weight to it.
Which soccer ball brand is best?
Adidas and Nike are the market leaders when it comes to soccer balls. They tend to produce the best quality replica and official match balls.
Nike is renown for producing solid, all round balls which perform very consistently. Whether you’re passing, shooting or dribbling, Nike soccer balls will offer a good response when you kick them, and they’re often made with a nice soft outer material. They don’t tend to deviate very much in flight.
On the other hand, Adidas balls are known to knuckle more easily than Nike’s products. They have a similar soft feel to them (the exception being Champions League official match balls), but they’re known to generally be more durable than what Nike offers.
Smaller soccer ball brands can be a bit hit and miss: there’s definitely some awesome soccer balls out there, but there’s a few terrible ones as well. Fortunately we’ve sorted out the good from the bad in our reviews.
This seems pretty complicated!
Let’s break things down a bit.
Essentially there are three main categories of soccer players:
1. Aspiring or current pro/freekick specialist
This is where I fit in. As a serious soccer player, you should consider getting an official match ball, because they offer the best possible performance.
2. Kids/adults playing seriously or for fun
If you’re one of these people, you’ll be training a few times a week as well as probably having a kick about with your buddies every so often. Since soccer balls can get lost at training, you won’t want to spend too much. However, you’ll be using your ball quite a lot, so you’ll want something fairly durable.
Your best bet is a ball in the $40 to $100 range, depending on how much you’re willing to spend. This can be either an official match ball or a replica – Adidas/Nike balls or the Select Numero 10 are good options.
3. Young kids/families who play casually
For the most part, younger kids are still learning how to dribble and take shots, so you don’t need a super expensive ball with the best possible performance.
Best Soccer Balls For The Money
Looking for something you can thrash against a wall, or a ball that’s no big deal if it’s eaten by a dog? Or do you need a size 3/4 ball rather than a size 5?
Here are some of the best soccer balls for everyday use.
Need a higher-quality ball instead? Check out the best official match balls for sale right now.
1. Adidas Nativo Top MLS Glider (2018)
Adidas gliders have an incredible reputation in the world of replica soccer balls. The 2018 version of the MLS match ball features a soft outer shell similar to that of an official match ball and is made of durable polyester. It also comes in sizes 3 and 4 as well as size 5, making it a great option for kids under the age of 12.
This ball truly lives up to its name as a “glider,” having a stable flight path when shot and a nice feel when passed. The surface is relatively grippy, which is great for goalkeepers looking to practice their catches. Because the ball isn’t as slippery as some other replicas, you can shoot it with a bit more swerve, and dribbling and skill moves are a bit easier.
The only issue would be that the panels are stitched, and they can come undone after a few years of regular use. However, Adidas balls are renowned for being well made in comparison to some of Nike’s older stitched-panel gliders – you should get a ton of gameplay out of this ball before it begins to lose its shape.
Plus, the Nativo glider is very reasonably priced considering what you get.
2. Select Numero 10 (2015)
In terms of durability, you can’t really go past Select. The polyurethane cover on the Numero 10 is tough enough to withstand dog bites and general wear and tear, but still feels nice and soft when kicked. Although this ball is a bit more expensive than other replicas, it comes with a two-year warranty for peace of mind when buying. It also retains its bounce very well over the years – perfect for practicing volleys and clearances.
Select’s ball design is fairly minimalistic – the front is just a white surface with their logo on it – in snow it might be a bit difficult to spot. However, there’s a few different styles available, including orange and purple, which would better suit winter conditions.
This ball also comes with a special spot to mark your jersey number, which is helpful if there’s a few Select balls being knocked about at training. It’s also available in size 4, so if you’re buying for a kid aged 8-11 who needs a durable ball, the Numero 10 is a fantastic pick.
The only downside to this ball really is that it might need to be re-inflated every few days or so. For most players this isn’t a big deal.
3. Nike Strike Premier League (2018/19)
Nike really make an effort to ensure their replica match balls meet the standard of their official match ball variants.
This ball features surface dimples just like the official version – the Merlin – to maintain flight stability and ensure good grip for goalkeepers. You’ll be able to shoot awesome curlers with this ball, in large part due to the grip that it offers.
Gone are the days of poor panel stitching, instead Nike uses deep seams to ensure the ball retains its shape. Although the outer material is fairly soft, this is quite a bouncy ball when fully inflated. The Nike Strike is able to retain this pop throughout its lifetime due to the build quality of the outer panels.
What’s more, this ball’s price is simply outstanding. Considering that you’re getting a durable product that very nearly meets the performance standards of an official match ball, the Nike Strike is awesome value for money.
4. Mikasa Serious (2013)
One of the benefits of buying from a smaller soccer brand such as Mikasa or Select is that the balls tend to be more durable. This is because these companies are more selective in choosing manufacturers for their products, because they rely on quality to maintain their competitive advantage.
The Mikasa Serious soccer ball is no exception, being one of the most durable but also one of the cheapest soccer balls for sale right now. It even comes with a one year warranty, which is quite surprising considering the price.
However, this ball’s main selling point is its suitability for families with young kids. It features a cushioned surface, perfect for smaller children. Despite this, the outer material still feels quite similar to most other soccer balls. This means that when your kid grows older, they won’t have to adjust to the feel of a firmer ball.
If your kid loves to play soccer in the yard, or your child has just joined his or her first team, this ball is almost certainly your best bet. It even comes in sizes 3 and 4, making it perfect for little ones who are just beginning to learn how to dribble and control the ball.
5. Under Armour Desafio 395 (2017)
Under Armour haven’t been making soccer balls for a long time, but the Desafio 395 is actually one of the better balls available at this price point.
UA TOUCHSKIN™ technology provides an excellent first touch while the ball’s black and yellow design ensures great visibility in all conditions. The Desafio is also renowned for holding air for months on end while also having a great feel when passed or shot.
Because this ball comes in size 3, 4 and 5, it’s another fantastic option for youth players. Like the Mikasa Serious soccer ball, it’s very cheap. However, it doesn’t come with a warranty.
The only downside to this ball is it’s very light. While this can be a good thing for younger kids, it’s not so good for teens and adults, as the ball tends to float over the bar when shot. If you’re looking for something a bit heavier, we’d recommend the Select Numero 10 instead.
Best Official Match Soccer Balls
6. Adidas Jabulani (2010)
This is my favorite official match ball. Why? Check this out:
The Jabulani is incredible in-flight, perfect for shots and freekicks, knuckleballs in particular. It also has a nice soft surface like most Adidas matchballs, excellent for passing and volleys. Dribbling feels as awesome as you’d expect from a ball designed for a World Cup.
However, it’s become somewhat of a collectible due to its age, so it’s incredibly expensive. I own three of these balls, and they’ve trebled in value since I bought them in the period from 2011 to 2014.
To be honest, this ball’s a bit like a classic car, in that it’s awesome – when it works. The Jabulani is prone to valve issues, although they can be fixed. If you need something durable, we wouldn’t recommend this ball. However, if you’re looking to add an awesome ball to your collection – and you’ve got the cash – consider grabbing a Jabulani before they go extinct.
7. Adidas Telstar 18 (2018)
The most recent FIFA World Cup official match ball is also one of the best soccer balls for sale at present. What’s more, its price is much more reasonable, since it’s only been around for a year or so
Like the Jabulani, it features cushioned thermally-bonded panels and external 3D texturing for enhanced grip. Also, Adidas used 100% polyurethane in creating the surface of this ball. As a result, it’s very durable (much more so than the Jabulani) and weighs in at a nice 437 grams.
The Telstar 18 even has an NFC chip, which unlocks exclusive smartphone games and content from Adidas when scanned.
As a soft, durable, reasonably-priced ball that isn’t too heavy nor too light, the Telstar 18 is a fantastic option for serious and casual players alike. If you’re fed up with your $30 balls losing their shape or performing inconsistently in-flight, try this official match ball and see what you think.
8. Adidas Finale Champions League Ball (2017/18)
Adidas is also responsible for producing balls for the UEFA Champions League each season. For over a decade now they’ve refined the stunning star design to produce one of the most stable balls on the market. Like the Telstar 18, this ball has very little deviation in flight, ensuring it travels exactly where you aim it.
The only downside to UCL balls is they can feel slightly hard when fully inflated. This may suit you, however some players prefer a ball that has more give to it when struck. If you’re a goalkeeper, the firmness of the surface can take a bit of getting used to.
On the plus side though, this ball is known to be incredibly durable – probably because of the tough surface. It also comes in an orange colorway for better visibility in the snow, but this winter version costs a bit more.
9. Nike Merlin (2018/19)
Now let’s look at Nike’s take on the official match ball.
Because the Merlin is designed for day-in, day-out use in Europe’s top professional soccer leagues, it’s made with durability in mind. Unlike the Adidas Jabulani, this ball is highly unlikely to develop valve issues or leaks.
As always with Nike balls, the Merlin has an excellent feel, particularly when passing. The ball is also great for shooting due to Nike’s 4-panel construction, 360-degree sweet spot technology and the soft polyurethane outer material. It won’t deviate too much in the air due to the thermally-bonded pentagonal panel layout, so it’s perfect for training as well as games.
The Merlin comes in a number of gradient-based colorways which are unique to Nike’s soccer ball range. Although it’s a tad expensive, these color options make the ball perfect for use in all weather conditions, including snow.
10. Bend-It Soccer Knuckle-It Pro (2015)
The oddball of the bunch (no pun intended) is Bend-It Soccer’s attempt to make an official match ball for the price of a replica. This soccer ball is designed to have the knuckleball capabilities of the Adidas Jabulani, being made to FIFA specifications, while only setting you back around a quarter of the price of the more expensive ball.
The Knuckle-It Pro has circular strike zones, perfect for setting up your freekicks and allowing you to strike the right spot on the ball. Thermally-bonded panels make this ball extra durable, while the textured surface helps to improve grip in all weather conditions.
You might think that since this ball’s relatively cheap, it wouldn’t be incredibly durable. However, it holds up as well as or better than most official match balls. The butyl bladder is much stronger than the ones Adidas uses.
Overall, Bend-It Soccer’s product is one of the best soccer balls available in terms of value for money at the moment. Essentially, this ball allows you to enjoy the benefits of an official match ball on a mid-range budget.
Ultimately, when buying a soccer ball, you will need to consider how often you play soccer and what your budget is. If you’re buying for a child, consider how old they are, what size ball they need and how seriously they take the sport.
For children under age 12, a size 3/4 ball rather than a size 5 is a more appropriate choice. If buying for someone else, try to find what size ball their league uses to ensure your purchase is the best fit.
Still not sure which ball to buy? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get right back to you!