Whether it is young children playing with an oversized ball that is clearly too big for them to kick properly or the local pub side forgetting their kitbag and having to borrow a junior ball from someone’s car boot, size mishaps happen. Soccer ball sizes are there for a reason and are extremely important from a technical viewpoint, a safety perspective, and a development angle as well.
There are clear repercussions for using the wrong-sized ball in soccer practice, a kick-about with your mates, and especially in an official match. On the flip side, using the correct size can transform your learning, performance, and enjoyment in soccer. We explore the ins and outs of soccer ball sizes below.
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The Breakdown Of Soccer Ball Sizes
Correct soccer ball sizes, weights, and ages of the players who should be using them should be universal but you will naturally have slight variations. Different countries and separate governing bodies may have contrasting interpretations as you drop down from the global game which is governed by FIFA at the professional level right down to amateur and grassroots levels.
All adult forms of the game will be almost identical, the odd alteration you may come across will largely be during the soccer development stages where each country may have its own set structure and move junior players up and down sizes at different ages depending on their development.
Either way, they will not be far from the barometers discussed below and in all likelihood, bearing the odd exception will be identical.
Soccer Ball Summaries: Size, Weight, And Ages
Here is a quick run-through of the basic soccer ball specifications you will need to be familiar with in order to select the appropriate size for your individual or team requirements;
The Size 1 Soccer Ball Summary
A size 1 soccer ball is usually 18 – 20 inches in circumference and weighs hardly anything at all as it is primarily used by those in the category of 3 years and under. It needs to be extremely light and ideally soft for babies to use from birth to feel comfortable and get used to the ball.
The minuscule size 1 soccer ball is ideal for very young children (aged 3 and under) who enjoy kicking a ball about for fun. With its small stature, it is common for players to also use it to practice various techniques, improve their touch, and master ball control as the smaller ball is much harder to manipulate.
Useful for accessorizing and collecting souvenirs (kids first ball etc) many clubs sell them with the club crest or colors on to maximize their revenue streams and make the youngsters feel part of the club from an early age. They are soft enough not to break too much around the house as well making them a perfect choice for parents.
Size 1 Soccer Ball Key Points To Remember
- Ages: 3 and under
- Size: 18 – 20 inches (circumference)
- Weight: Barely anything
The Size 2 Soccer Ball Summary
A size 2 soccer ball is usually 20 – 22 inches in circumference and weighs slightly more than a size 1 but nothing notable or even noticeable in terms of difference. It is primarily used by those in the category of 3 – 5 years old and still needs to be light and relatively soft for toddlers to continue to be comfortable with the ball as they grow.
Predominantly used as a skills ball, the size 2 soccer ball is the perfect ball for children aged between three and five years of age. As described above, the size 2 ball much like its predecessor can be used by more advanced players to hone their skills and to practice tricks. This sized ball is also frequently sold for promotional material featuring their club colors to increase secondary revenue streams that uphold the financial security of smaller clubs.
Size 2 Soccer Ball Key Points To Remember
- Ages: 3 – 5 years old
- Size: 20 – 22 inches (circumference)
- Weight: Slightly more than a sized 1 ball
The Size 3 Soccer Ball Summary
A size 3 soccer ball is usually 23 – 24 inches in circumference and weighs approximately 300 – 320 grams. It is primarily used by those in the category between 5 – 8 years old. The ball must resemble a full-sized ball in terms of texture and appearance for the child’s familiarity but its size and weight make the transition easy for the youngsters to adapt.
The size 3 soccer ball is the smallest commissioned ball that is used for official matches with players who are usually 8 years old or under. To help all players feel more confident and better develop their skills, especially in a mixed-ability group, it is advised that coaches working with younger age groups should always have size 3 soccer balls available to use.
Size 3 Soccer Ball Key Points To Remember
- Ages: 5 – 8 years old
- Size: 23 – 24 inches (circumference)
- Weight: 300 – 320 grams
The Size 4 Soccer Ball Summary
A size 4 soccer ball is usually 25 – 26 inches in circumference and weighs approximately 350 – 390 grams. It is primarily used by those in the category between 8 – 11 years old. The ball is the last phase before using a full-sized ball but remains slightly smaller to allow adolescent players the opportunity to hone their skills at their comfort level before taking the final step.
Using a regulation ball at this age would be far too difficult and the size 4 ball represents a crucial stage in the learning and development of the adolescent player. The final stage of their youth matches and training sessions need to be utilized to skillfully maneuver and manipulate the ball in accordance with their size. The size 4 ball allows and encourages these practices in abundance by displaying the optimum size and weight.
The size 4 ball gives players a few years to adjust as they get older, stronger, and more skilled and is therefore perfect for players aged 8 – 11 years of age. It’s design and specifications are ideally suited to the transition period that accompanies moving from junior soccer into senior soccer.
Size 4 Soccer Ball Key Points To Remember
- Ages: 8 – 11 years old
- Size: 25 – 26 inches (circumference)
- Weight: 350 – 390 grams
The Size 5 Soccer Ball Summary
A size 5 soccer ball is usually 27 – 28 inches in circumference and weighs approximately 410 – 450 grams. Mostly used once players reach their teenage years, the size 5 soccer ball can actually be used from any range from 12 years old and upwards into senior level.
Standard international matches and pretty much all forms of the adult game use a size 5 soccer ball. Children of 12 will naturally fluctuate in size and physicality as they will in terms of maturity and skill development. Coaches should bear that in mind if they have a younger or less developed group of 12-year-olds. There is nothing wrong with adapting the size of the ball to suit the needs of the team you are focusing on.
That being said, most will be comfortable by this age to make the step up to the regulation full-sized ball. They weigh in at between 410 – 450 grams and are therefore unsuitable for younger groups. Their motivation and skill levels will drop as they will not be able to execute the drills and skills to the same level if the ball is too big for them. This can severely hamper both their passion and confidence with the ball and may affect their will to continue.
Size 5 Soccer Ball Key Points To Remember
- Ages: 12+ years old
- Size: 27 – 28 inches (circumference)
- Weight: 410 – 450 grams
Final Thoughts: The Impact and Consequences of Soccer Ball Sizes
Selecting the appropriate size and weight of a soccer ball is imperative for players of all levels and ages. Getting it right will make a significant difference for effective development and will also result in the player being increasingly engaged whilst having a lot more fun. Getting it wrong can have a detrimental effect on the player, the parent, the coaching team, and the entire group on the whole.
It’s much harder to develop touch, technique, and ball skills if the soccer ball isn’t appropriate for the child’s age group and has a negative impact on their development.
This is why it is vital that coaches pay particular attention to the assembly of players they’re coaching and always ensure they’re practicing with the right kit, accessories, and most importantly, the correct-sized ball.
With the various options from size 1 (children) to size 5 (adults) discussed in-depth above, there’s an appropriate sized ball for every player and every age group. Hopefully, we have provided enough insight for you to make both informed and educated decisions confidently ahead of your next soccer practice and enjoy a successful season with your team.