Soccer — or football as it's known around the world — is arguably the most loved sport on Earth. Although Americans still aren't as enamored of the sport as the rest of the world is, teams around the country are stealing hearts and minds, and Americans are getting into the game. For years, soccer has been a sport played by kids, college students, and ex-pats, but it's now being cheered in stadiums and watched on national TV.
A quick inspection of the construction of the ball might help you make a quick decision. The first thing that you should look at is the panel of the ball. A soccer ball that has panels sewn together is a better choice than the ones that are glued together. The panels of a premium ball are stitched by hand while those of a lower quality are machine stitched.
Soccer balls have several panels that influence their flight characteristics and the amount of control a player can have while playing. International soccer competitions use a 32-panel ball. Major leagues use an 18-panel ball and indoor leagues use a 6-panel ball. High-end soccer balls have hand-stitched panels with a synthetic thread. A low-cost one for practice and training will usually have its panels glued together.
As an avid soccer player and coach, I know it is important to have a suitable ball. First off, this ball arrived fully inflated, which is always a plus. This way I don't have to run around trying to find a pump and needle in order to inflate it. My toddler immediately started kicking it around the house once I was able to get it out of the package! I also love the feel of this ball. It is easy to grip and allows for easy ball handling. The colors are perfect, too. It is a little boring to play with a ball whose colors are dull or faded. The contrast between the blue and electric yellow is perfect. The colors make the ball easy to see.
This is a decision that your coach or manager get to decide for you if you are part of a team. Your own ball is one thing that you have control on. However, when it comes to what the team should play with, it is the manager’s job to pick which ball is the best, and what is appropriate for the team for training. Coaches usually stick to training match balls as they give the illusion of actual match balls.
This is a decision being made by a league operator or manager of some sort, this section is important for you. For the individual, there isn’t much of a determination here. If you want something really nice like the pros, go premium. But if not, then you probably will just want to go with a training ball. But for people equipping their teams with materials, this is a decision that needs to be taken seriously. I would suggest that recreational leagues stick with training match balls, even for matches. The number of kicks that the ball will get and the improper technique will cause headaches for you if you decide to buy premium balls. For high schools, I suggest just regular match balls as many are still learning the basics of the game and many teams simply play “kickball” at that age. For college teams, semi-pros, serious travel clubs, and of course, professional teams, I suggest premium match balls for play!
Latex bladders are one of the best materials when it comes to ball construction. However, with latex bladders, air won’t last as long as butyl bladders and will need more attention for proper inflation. Butyl-blend bladders hold in the air much better, but they are harder and less receptive in play. Mid-priced balls will usually have a mix of butyl and rubber. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1SVcjYY6TE