Andrew Parker

Best Soccer Ball – Buyer’s Guide

Best Soccer Ball

While soccer may have a few different pieces of equipment necessary to play the game at the highest levels of competition, there is no piece of equipment more important than the soccer ball. In fact, you do not actually need special shoes or other pieces of equipment to play soccer in a casual setting-so long as you have a capable soccer ball.

With the soccer ball being such an important piece of equipment in the sport, it is vital that you make sure to get the best soccer ball possible. Of course, with a variety of different fields or courts and a number of subtle variations on the actual game itself, figuring out which soccer ball is right for your needs can be difficult (READ MORE: Step-by-step Guide for Choosing Best Futsal Ball, Best Soccer Shin Guards and Best Soccer Shoes).

Best Soccer Ball 2018

To help you find the soccer ball most suited to your needs, we have put together a list of the 7 best soccer balls and highlighted what situation each soccer ball is most appropriate for. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best soccer ball for your game.

Product
CasingBladderLiningStitching 
Adidas WORLD CUP
(Editor’s Choice)
PUButylPolyesterThermal Bonded
Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball
(People’s Choice)
PVCButylNylonMachine
TPURubberPolyester and EVA foamMachine
Synthetic LeatherButylPolyesterMachine
TPURubberPolyesterMachine
TPULatexCotton and PolyesterHand
RubberRubberNylonThermal Bonded

1. Adidas WORLD CUP Official Match Ball – Best Soccer Ball in the World (Editor’s Choice)

Adidas WORLD CUPAdidas may have made a name for themselves primarily by making and selling high-end sports shoes, but they have also managed to make quite a name for themselves in various other sports equipment markets. When it comes to soccer balls, Adidas has even managed to take one of the biggest prestige claims and bragging rights in the entire sport: this soccer ball will be used as the official game ball for the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament.

Materials

Adidas spared little expense with this soccer ball and made sure that the materials used could pass almost any standard for grass fields. First, the casing is made of polyurethane, providing a great balance between responsiveness and durability-though they further increased the responsiveness with 3D textures. The bladder is made out of butyl, so you will not have to worry about constantly reinflating it, while the ball is lined with soft and water-resistant polyester.

Extras

Still, despite how impressive the materials used for the soccer ball are, Adidas is not done providing one of the best products available. For instance, this ball uses thermal bonding instead of either hand or machine stitching. This has the advantage of allowing the ball to fly truer as well as resisting water better. On top of that, some sellers even have balls with embedded NFC chips, which provide all kinds of valuable feedback information on you play.

Pros:
  • The casing is made of polyurethane
  • The bladder is made of butyl
  • Is lined with wound polyester
  • Uses thermal bonding
  • Has an NFC chip
  • The casing has a 3D texture
Cons:
  • Is extremely expensive
  • Not all sellers have the NFC chip
  • Only comes in a single size

2. Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball – Best Soccer Ball for the Money

Wilson Traditional Soccer BallWilson is one of the few brands on our list that got its start and earned its reputation making various balls for different sports. Their basketballs and footballs are some of the most iconic balls ever made with the Wilson football even being the official brand of the NFL and the basketball is the official ball for the NCAA. This being the case, it should not be surprised that the Wilson soccer ball is the most popular we found.

Durability

Regardless of how popular the soccer ball is, this is also one of the most durable soccer balls that we reviewed. This starts with the casing, which is made out of PVC. While this is not the best material for touch, PVC is one of the most durable materials used for soccer ball casings. On top of the casing, the lining of the Wilson soccer ball is made of nylon that is stronger than the commonly used polyester alternative. Combined, the nylon and PVC also make this the most water-resistant soccer ball on our list.

Responsiveness

Like many soccer balls that we reviewed, whenever a manufacturer makes it a point to offer an incredibly durable soccer ball, they ultimately make a soccer ball that is not very responsive. This is the case with the Wilson as well and is primarily a result of the materials chose. The PVC casing and nylon lining might be incredibly durable, but they do not offer much give. Aside from reducing the ball’s responsiveness, this also makes the Wilson a bit more painful to kick for long periods.

Pros:
  • More durable than most
  • The casing is more water-resistant
  • An extremely inexpensive soccer ball
  • The bladder is made of butyl
  • Is lined with wound nylon
  • Comes in 3 different sizes
Cons:
  • Not the most responsive
  • Casing made of PVC
  • Has machine stitching

3. Nike USA Prestige Soccer Ball – Best Soccer Ball Brand

Nike USA Prestige Soccer BallNike is another company on our list that may have initially made a name for itself as a brand known more for making and selling high-end sports shoes but quickly transitioned to a company that made high-end sports equipment for virtually every major sport. It is also worth noting that Nike has made the official game ball used for the FIFA World Cup in the past and is the current maker of the official game balls for the US Soccer League.

Layers

With all of those accolades, you might be a bit surprised that this is only rated as the best training soccer ball we reviewed rather than the best performing. For the most part, those questions are warranted as the first two layers of this soccer ball are made out of great materials. The casing is made of TPU, which provides a solid amount of durability, but it is the lining that stands out. With both polyester and EVA, this ball is easier to kick for longer periods without suffering from fatigue.

Responsiveness

Considering the positives previously mentioned, you might be wondering why we think this ball is only suited for practice-even if it is one of the best training soccer balls we have seen. This is because the Nike is not that responsive-at least, not compared to match soccer balls. This is largely because this ball uses a rubber bladder. This bladder is not responsive at all. On top of that, the foam lining and TPU casing are not the most responsive either-even if the latter does have texture to help increase its responsiveness.

Pros:
  • The casing is made of TPU
  • Is more durable than most
  • Provides adequate responsiveness
  • Lined with polyester and EVA foam
  • Casing has texture
  • Comes in 2 different sizes
Cons:
  • The bladder is made of rubber
  • Has machine stitching
  • A fairly expensive soccer ball

4. Mikasa Serious Soccer Ball – Best Soccer Ball Size 5

Mikasa Serious Soccer BallMikasa is definitely not the most well-known nor respected brand on our list, though they do consistently manufacture high-quality products. However, as a brand that focuses more on making volleyballs and water polo balls, it is not surprising that their soccer balls have slipped through the cracks-even if the products of their focus markets have been used for the Olympics. As such, Mikasa takes a different approach and offers a less expensive option.

Responsiveness

Whereas plenty of manufacturers that we reviewed opted to go with a soccer ball that was more durable than responsive, Mikasa takes the opposite approach and focuses primarily on the touch that their ball can provide. This is most apparent in the soccer ball’s choice of casing material. The synthetic leather casing of the Mikasa is by far the softest and naturally responsive-without the inclusion of texture-out of any other soccer ball we reviewed.

Specialization

However, by selling out so hard in terms of responsiveness, the Mikasa has painted itself into a bit of a corner. Specifically, the synthetic leather casing makes this ball unsuitable for use on any surface outside of natural grass.In fact, even artificial grass will begin to wear down this ball once the glossy finish has been worn away. When you factor in the machine stitching, you end up with one of the least durable soccer balls on our list.

Pros:
  • Comes in 3 different sizes
  • Comes in 4 different styles
  • Is incredibly responsive
  • An extremely inexpensive soccer ball
  • Bladder made of butyl
  • Lined with polyester
Cons:
  • Is not that durable
  • Has machine stitching
  • Glossy finish can be slippery

5. American Challenge Brasilia Soccer Ball – Best Soccer Ball under 50

American Challenge Brasilia Soccer BallWhile most soccer balls are designed to be used on grass fields-whether they are firm ground, soft ground, or artificial-there are still a wide variety of different types of surfaces on which soccer is played.

Dirt, turf, sand, indoor courts, and streets are all common areas to play soccer. Unfortunately, soccer balls designed to be played on grass generally do not translate as well on these other surfaces. That is when you need a ball that is either specialized for that surface or made to be played on a variety of surfaces.

Versatility

This is exactly the niche that American Challenge’s Brasilia soccer ball is supposed to fill. With a combination of materials that offer a range of different qualities, the Brasilia is able to transition seamlessly from dirt and turf to an indoor court or even on the street. This begins with a casing that is made of TPU. This provides the requisite durability needed while still offering some responsiveness. On top of that, the glossy finish actually benefits this ball in these settings rather hindering it.

Responsiveness

Though, a ball designed to be played virtually anywhere will have to sacrifice something to achieve that versatility. For the Brasilia, that sacrifice comes in the form of responsiveness. While the glossy finish may offer some protection, it also reduces your touch with the ball. A bladder made out of synthetic rubber-not to mention that TPU is only okay when it comes to touch in the first place, further compounds this effect.

Pros:
  • The casing is made of TPU
  • Lined with polyester
  • Glossy finish increases durability
  • Is a reasonably priced soccer ball
  • Comes in 4 different sizes
  • Comes in 4 different styles
Cons:
  • Not the most responsive
  • Has machine stitching
  • Bladder made of synthetic rubber

6. Kixsports KixFriction soccer ball – Best Soccer Ball for Street

Kixsports KixFriction soccer ballWith a name like Kixsports, it should come as little surprise that the brand focuses exclusively on soccer equipment-at least, for now. This is because the brand is actually new and has not yet had time to branch out into other sports. Thankfully, that means that Kixsports has put all of its focus and attention on soccer equipment and developed an incredibly unique as well as capable soccer ball ideally suited for street play.

Materials

The Kixsports Kixfriction ball may seem to look a bit odd, but that is definitely by design. However, do not let its unusual appearance fool you: the Kixfriction is by far one of the most durable soccer balls that we reviewed. This begins with a solid TPU casing, but it is primarily due to the construction of the ball. Specifically, this is the only ball on our list that uses hand stitching. Granted, that is somewhat necessary to ensure that the butyl rubber fins stay attached.

Inner

The interior of the Kixfriction is a bit more mixed in terms of quality than the exterior is. However, the materials used are explicitly designed to increase the ball’s responsiveness-likely to make up for its uncommon rolling and flight patterns due to the butyl fins. Still, aside from being the only hand-sewn ball, this is also the only ball made with a latex bladder on our list. The potential downside is the cotton lining which will get heavy when wet-though it is much softer and provides better responsiveness than either polyester or nylon.

Pros:
  • One of the most durable soccer balls
  • Comes in 2 different sizes
  • Comes in 3 different styles
  • Bladder made of latex
  • Has hand stitching
  • Casing made of TPU
Cons:
  • Does not play naturally
  • Is a more expensive soccer ball
  • Lining made of cotton

7. GlowCity Light Up LED Soccer Ball – Best Light Up Soccer Ball

GlowCity Light Up LED Soccer BallIt should almost go without saying that GlowCity is not a top-tier manufacturer of soccer balls. In fact, this brand is not known for making high-end products of any kind unless it is intended to glow in the dark-though they actually make glow in the dark sports balls for a variety of sports. Still, for a company that was founded less than a decade ago, GlowCity offers a surprisingly capable soccer ball that is nevertheless not truly suitable for organized league play.

Lighted

Of course, no one should truly expect this ball to be made for an organized league game since its primary selling point is that it glows in the dark. This soccer ball features two red LED lights that are powered by the same kinds of batteries used for watches. Even better, the batteries themselves are easy to change out and even have a specialized tool to assist in doing so. To prevent the batteries from running out too quickly, the ball is kick-activated and stays lit for 40 seconds.

Materials

For the most part, the materials used with the GlowCity soccer ball are generally considered the worst materials by competitive players. Both the casing and the bladder are made of rubber. The only bright spot in terms of materials is the lining, which is made of wound nylon. While these materials are generally less desirable than many others are, they do have the advantage of making the GlowCity soccer ball one of the most durable that we reviewed.

Pros:
  • Features 2 LED lights
  • The lining is made of wound nylon
  • More durable than most
  • Easy to change batteries
  • Lights are kick-activated
  • Can be used on any surface
Cons:
  • The casing is made of rubber
  • The bladder is made of rubber
  • Is a more expensive soccer ball

Best Soccer Ball Review – Buyer’s Guide

Casing

The casing of a soccer ball is the outermost surface that covers the lining and bladder. There is no “ideal” material used for the casing as different materials will be better suited depending primarily on the court or field. That said, when judging a soccer ball’s casing, you will generally need to weigh whether it is more important than the soccer ball be responsive or durable.

Polyurethane

PolyurethaneThis is what the majority of quality soccer balls are made out of. It offers a great blend of durability and responsiveness and is the material most commonly used by professional leagues for their game balls. In fact, FIFA uses polyurethane, or PU, exclusively for their game balls. One thing that allows PU to stand out above many of the other materials is its versatility.

By balancing durability and responsiveness, PU soccer balls can be used on a wide variety of surfaces. Of course, if you are looking for a ball that is a bit more durable than standard PU, you can always get a thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, a soccer ball. This material sacrifices a bit of PU’s responsiveness to get a significant boost to its durability. Though, this is likely best served for either indoor, turf, or artificial grass courts.

Synthetic Leather

Synthetic LeatherOutside of PU and TPU, pretty much every other material used for a soccer ball’s casing will be specialized for either durability or responsiveness. When it comes to synthetic leather, the focus is also exclusively on responsiveness and this is by far the most responsive material used for a soccer ball’s casing. It is important to note that PU, TPU, and PVC are all often labeled as synthetic leather.

However, when it comes to soccer balls, the label of synthetic leather is generally used to designate a material much softer than any of those three. While this supple constitution may make synthetic leather extremely responsive, it also has the unfortunate consequence of making it the least durable as well. As such, a synthetic leather soccer ball is best suited for either firm ground or soft ground natural grass fields-though it can also be expected to handle artificial grass reasonably well too.

Polyvinyl Chloride

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is actually seen as a somewhat lower grade material. This is not to suggest that PVC is a bad material to use for a soccer ball, but it is definitely significantly less responsive than PU, TPU, or synthetic leather. That said, PVC does have the distinct advantage of being far more durable than any of the three aforementioned materials.

While this may make PVC a less than ideal material for a pitched ball, it actually makes this a great ball for turf or dirt fields. Still, most players have a tendency to reserve PVC soccer balls either for casual pickup games or as a training or practice ball. If you do opt to go with a soccer ball made out of PVC, make sure that the casing is textured to account for the lower responsiveness.

Rubber

RubberFor most intents and purposes, rubber is by far the worst material to be used for a soccer ball casing. This is mostly because rubber is by far the least responsive soccer ball casing material. On the other side, rubber is also the most durable material used, and the difference is not even close.

As such, there are only specific circumstances where rubber would be the preferred material for the soccer ball casing. One of the primary situations where a soccer ball with a rubber casing is most suitable would be for street soccer. Here, the rubber is able to better handle the rough surface of asphalt compared to other materials.

Bladder

The bladder is arguably the most important part of a soccer ball since it most determines how the ball responds to being kicked. Though the casing will also play an important function, that is more a matter of where you play. While the casing desired may be determined by what field or court you play on, the bladder is generally judged based on whether you want the ball to retain air better or have better responsiveness.

Latex

LatexWhen it comes to soccer ball bladders, you will generally opt for the material that provides the most responsive touch for the highest levels of play. This is because it is a simple matter to re-inflate a soccer ball not to mention the fact that most competitive leagues will have numerous balls on hand. If touch and responsiveness are your key bladder attribute, there is no other material better than latex.

Due to it being significantly softer than the other types of rubbers used for soccer ball bladders, latex is generally seen as the premier material. Though, this same perception may not hold as true for practice balls or even game balls at lower levels of competition. This is because latex bladders retain air worse than all of the other soccer ball bladder materials and will need to be re-inflated more often.

Butyl

Butyl is easily the most common material used for soccer ball bladders, but this is likely due to a single advantage: air retention. Out of all the materials used for soccer ball bladders, none of them retain air as well as butyl. That said, butyl is able to provide such excellent air retention by sacrificing give or softness. This ultimately makes butyl the least responsive material used for soccer ball bladders.

However, this has not stopped players from preferring butyl as their bladder material of choice. In fact, this preference is so well cemented by players of all skill sets, that manufacturers professional game balls are just as likely to use butyl bladders as they are latex–often times even more likely. It is interesting to note that butyl is more durable than latex but less durable than rubber-despite providing had better air retention.

Rubber

Much like PU or TPU for soccer ball casings, rubber is considered the best of both worlds for soccer ball bladders when it comes to striking a balance between responsiveness and air retention. Oddly enough, this balance does not actually inspire a greater adoption by either manufacturers or players, and as such, soccer balls with rubber bladders are less popular.

This may be a bit of a “middle child” effect where players who prefer responsiveness are not satisfied with rubber compared to latex and players seeking air retention are not satisfied with rubber compared to butyl. For whatever reason, rubber is generally seen as the least desirable material to be used for a soccer ball’s bladder, though they are notably the most durable, which makes them great for dirt fields as well as street and indoor courts.

Conclusion

Since not everyone plays on the same kind of field or even same sets of rules, there is no soccer ball which will be the best soccer ball for all players. That said, if you are looking for a soccer ball that will provide a high level of play for the most common arrangements of field and rules, there are plenty to choose from.

Still, when it comes to soccer ball, which should work well for most people, we recommend the adidas Adidas WORLD CUP Official Match Ball. Every aspect of this ball is designed for professional play including the stitching that actually uses the superior thermal bonding for a truer flight. Even better, this ball as an NFC chip to provide feedback on your play.

Of course, most people will not actually require a professional quality soccer ball just to have some fun and are certainly not prepared to pay for one. In this case, we recommend the Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball. While the PVC casing is not as responsive and the machine stitching could be improved, the butyl bladder and nylon lining make this a solid everyday soccer ball for most settings.

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  1. Kollektiv says:

    Thanks so much for the post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

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