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The beautiful game has come a long way with regard to the accessibility and technological advancements that have improved soccer products.
For it was not too long ago when me and my friends at school used to play with makeshift balls that were composed with any malleable materials that we could find lying around.
We’d form a ball shape from the materials we collected and then tie them all together with a few rubber bands!
Nostalgia at its absolute finest.
In today’s world, soccer fans literally have their own pick of finely constructed and expertly stitched soccer balls for very affordable prices.
The abundance of choice can present quite a bit of a selection dilemma for customers, which is why I decided to publish an article dedicated to reviewing the best soccer balls.
In summary, here are my top picks:
Mitre Delta Professional Soccer Ball
Hyper seam technology
Laminated power bladder
SELECT Numero 10 Soccer Ball
Neoprene foam laminated
Zero-wing latex bladder
PUMA Team Final 21.2 Soccer Ball
Thermally bonded panels
FIFA Quality Pro certified
Adidas Uniforia Pro Soccer Ball
Symbolic panel design
Heat glued panels
Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball
Synthetic leather shell
The Mitre Delta Professional Soccer Ball comes out on top mainly due to its fantastic combination of panel stitching and binding via its proprietary hyper seam technology. It delivers on both performance and durability in an extraordinary way, all whilst being reasonably affordable.
Right, the product evaluation begins now!
I’ve made this process much easier for you by compiling detailed reviews on some of the most popular choices available in today’s market.
So, let’s dig right into the good stuff!
- 1. Mitre Delta Professional Soccer Ball
- 2. Select Numero 10 Soccer Ball
- 3. Puma Team Final 21.2 Soccer Ball
- 4. Adidas Uniforia Pro Soccer Ball
- 5. Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball
- The best of the rest
- What to consider before buying a soccer ball
- Final recommendation
1. Mitre Delta Professional Soccer Ball
- Delivering control, accuracy and power, this is Mitre’s mid-level professional ball and it’s approved by FIFA, so you can be sure of its quality
- When you kick the ball, you want it to fly straight and true, that’s why Mitre crafted the laminated power bladder catching the top corner of the net has never been easier
- Play your best, whatever the weather Mitre’s revolutionary Hyperseam technology means almost zero water uptake, helping your ball last longer
Our number one pick comes from Mitre.
Mitre have been around in the sports gear industry for a very long time, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see them at the very top of this list.
First of all, I’d like to say that Mitre is a brand that brings back a lot of fond memories.
There was always a bit of banter amongst my peer group that the global manufacturer used to make the hardest footballs known to man!
However, multiple reviewers safely attest to the fact that this Delta soccer ball is very different.
It is machine stitched together with a foam backed polyurethane (PU) material, which is said to offer a well-balanced soft touch when coming into contact with a person’s foot.
This ball is also versatile in the sense that it can be used quite comfortably on natural grass as well as astro turf surfaces.
And as a further testament to this product’s quality, FIFA has stamped it with its very own FIFA Pro Quality accreditation mark.
Top notch indeed!
Let’s now look at some of it’s most breath-taking features:
Hyper seam technology
Mitre been one of the frontrunners for soccer ball innovation, as their proprietary hyper seam technology neatly combines the benefits of bonding and stitching.
If you’re not quite familiar with those terminologies, just think about it in this way.
When a soccer ball is put together with stitches by hand, they’re designed to deliver when it comes to overall aerodynamic factors.
Now, with bonding incorporated into the production process, their Delta soccer ball [LINK] can also offer a seamless feel along with zero water uptake and fantastic durability.
That makes this ball an easy choice if you know you’re going to be playing soccer in the rain or on a surface that’s pretty slick.
Laminated power bladder
Air and shape retention have never been more important for soccer balls than they are now.
Prospective buyers demand astronomically high-quality standards in the products that they purchase, so having a ball that delivers exceptionally well from a performance perspective is very encouraging.
With the laminated power bladder embedded within the ball, you will notice that the ball exhibits a much truer flight trajectory when struck.
This is not the case with many soccer balls on the market.
For example, the Adidas Jabulani ball that was used in the 2010 FIFA World Cup suffered massively in this department.
High profile goalkeepers at the tournament complained that the ball was too light and curvy, as it’s unpredictable movement contributed to a large number of major unforced errors during matches.
Rest easy, though.
With this ball, you can pretty much choreograph your shots just how you’d like them to go.
Hyper foam material
The distinct 14-panel configuration of the ball and its hyper foam material is designed to deliver more of a player’s kick power into the ball whilst retaining optimum circular shape and size control.
In addition to this, the embossed outer surface of the ball gives it an extra push whenever it travels through the air because airflow is manipulated for the purpose of speed and accuracy.
- Estimated weight – 360 grams
- Material – 1.2 mm polyurethane outer cover
- 4.5 mm hyper foam thickness
2. Select Numero 10 Soccer Ball
- HIGHEST QUALITY: A legendary match and training ball used around the world for decades for training and matches
- PREMIUM MATERIALS: PU material laminated with neoprene foam to increase softness with SELECT's premium zero-wing latex bladder for optimal bounce
- HAND-STITCHED CRAFTMANSHIP: 32 panel hand-stitched construction combined with golf structured PU-surface ensures optimal aerodynamics
Perhaps a mystery inclusion for many causal readers is the SELECT Numero 10 soccer ball.
If you fit into the aforementioned demographic, then you’re quite likely to not have heard of the SELECT brand as well as what they stand for.
They are actually one of the leading manufacturers of soccer balls that are sewn by hand; possessing decades of proprietary knowledge in this department.
SELECT was founded in 1947 by former Danish professional soccer player – Eigil Nielsen.
He is said to have pioneered the transition from cow-hide made balls to synthetic leather ones.
Mr. Nielsen also brought about the 32-panel construction principle which sees the soccer balls of today having a much more circular appearance.
It’s safe to say that SELECT really know what they are doing when they put together a soccer ball, and this quality shines through with what they have on offer here.
Let’s now dissect the feature set of this ball…
Neoprene foam laminated
The SELECT Numero 10 has been laminated with neoprene foam.
For those of you that aren’t aware of what this material is, don’t be alarmed.
It simply gives the ball a softer feel.
This is great because players who can attest to being frustrated with soccer balls that are too hard to kick or control, can now breathe a sigh of relief.
You no longer have to worry about jumping in the air for a header or giving off a wince before you attempt to toe poke the ball forward!
Neoprene foam is such a great feature add-on for this ball because it provides players with greater cushioning, which can elevate their overall game to much higher levels due to the fact that they are more comfortable with the ball at their feet.
Zero-wing latex bladder
Another element of this soccer ball that goes hand in hand with the neoprene foam is its latex bladder.
What this does is boost the responsiveness of the ball, particularly when it bounces on the grass or skids along the turf.
You want to be able to witness all the intricate movements that a soccer ball has to offer, and because of the fact that SELECT chose to incorporate this bladder type within the overall design, you probably won’t be left disappointed.
For further inspection of this ball, check out the clip that has been laid out for you below:
- Panel construction – hand stitched
- Panel count – 32
- Bladder type – latex
3. Puma Team Final 21.2 Soccer Ball
- Match ball suitable for all ages
- Final form-fitting panel construction
- Fifa quality for the highest level of performance
Puma are always finding ways to aggressively dig at the heels of Nike and Adidas when it comes to sports gear and apparel manufacturing.
The company’s focus has always been about producing the fastest products for the world’s fastest athletes.
But as time has gone on, they’ve begun to diversify their coverage.
A great example of this was when they launched a partnership with singer Selena Gomez, who became a women ambassador for them.
Another thing is that the brand places strong emphasis on future sustainability; specifically referring to 10 targets that they wish to achieve by the year 2025 to push towards a greener future in the industry.
Despite a slight deviation from their core focus in recent years, they still make a great soccer ball!
The has so much to offer players.
Let’s take a look at it…
Thermally bonded panels
With thermal bonding of the panels, they are glued together with heat.
This makes them stick in place a lot better than other panel construction methods like machine-stitching, because each panel is held firmly in place.
You get the benefit of shape retention as each panel is bonded together rather than being held in place by a piece of polyester thread.
The latter is prone to tearing, which damages the structural integrity of the ball.
More so, this ball absorbs a lot less water when it is played with on a wet surface.
This helps to maintain its original weight, which is great for players as you’re unlikely to feel that the soccer ball is a lot heavier when it’s kicked about in rainy conditions.
Highest FIFA quality mark
One other important factor that you should look at when considering this ball is the fact that it exceeds FIFA’s highest quality standards.
I’ve spoken about this before in my article on the soccer balls that professional players use, and it highlights the FIFA Quality Pro badge as being the pinnacle of performance quality that a ball can meet.
To be accredited with this badge, the ball must be doing a lot of things right, especially when it comes to factors such as:
- Water absorption
- Size retention
- Bounce uniformity
So, if you do decide to go for this slightly lower specification match and training ball, you can still rest easy knowing you will be receiving a near premium experience anyway.
- Material composition – 30% synthetic rubber foam, 30% synthetic leather, 30% synthetic rubber, 10% polyester
- Weight – 430 grams
- Panel count – 32
4. Adidas Uniforia Pro Soccer Ball
- Highest FIFA rating. Balls passed tests on e.g. weight, water uptake, shape and size retention.
- Seamless surface for a more predictable trajectory, better touch and lower water uptake.
- High - end materials in the cover, backing and bladder ensure perfect onfield performance.
Adidas have been one of the companies at the forefront of soccer ball development for many decades.
They are a major player in this area of soccer, if not the biggest manufacturer.
The brand aims to be the best in the world, continuously striving to attain either a number one or number two spot for market share within each strategic category that they create products for.
Now if that doesn’t illustrate a monumental dedication to product and service quality, then I don’t know what is!
When talking about their Uniforia Pro Soccer Ball, it’s safe to say that they’ve created something very impressive.
Symbolic panel design
First of all, Adidas recognises that culture is at the heart of this sport that we love to play.
Building on that idea, they were able to incorporate many facets of European culture into the ball’s outward design.
It does a great job of symbolising a celebration of soccer and honouring the unity that the game brings by recognising the individual contributions of all the twelve host cities for the recently concluded Euro 2020 tournament.
Take a closer look at the colours and stripes on the ball and see if you notice that.
Heat glued panels
The seamless surface that this ball has ensures that you don’t have to worry about any moisture seeping into it from the seams.
I’ve spoken about thermal bonding many times and by now it’s pretty clear that the balls constructed in this way are a notch better with regard to overall performance.
No stitching, no problem.
Still doubting whether this soccer ball is worth a shot at the premium price point?
Then check out this short video which helps to deconstruct the different aspects of the ball:
- High spec – FIFA Quality Pro certified
- Bladder type – rubber
- Cover – 100% polyester
5. Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball
- Synthetic leather cover for increased durability
- Butyl rubber bladder for excellent air and shape retention
- Traditional panel graphics with silver accents
Now the Wilson Sporting Goods Company – which is a Chinese-owned subsidiary based in the United States – goes quite under the radar when it comes to the popularity of the soccer gear that they produce.
They’re dwarfed by the likes of Nike, Adidas and Puma, but this doesn’t stop them from producing quality.
With their Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball, they’ve got a product that rivals their supposedly superior competitors.
Many reviews attest to the fact that this ball is excellent for recreational play.
And here’s why…
Synthetic leather shell
It’s quite an ideal soccer ball for young children to use because its synthetic leather covering ensures a high level of durability.
You’re probably quite aware that kids can sometimes participate irresponsibly, which increases the likelihood of a soccer ball getting damaged in the process.
Because the ball is made from a much more robust synthetic leather outer as opposed to polyvinyl carbonate (PVC), there’s a bit more of a guarantee that this ball will survive the tougher parts of children’s games.
Again, when it comes to durability this ball ticks another box.
With its butyl bladder, it offers significantly better air and spherical shape retention over time.
You can trust it to deliver on a couple of hundred hours of play because it’s been built to withstand all the different sorts of battles that are associated with child play.
Traditional panel graphics
It also features a classical panel design that was a staple of the soccer balls made back in the 1960s and 1970s.
The black and white spots make you remember what soccer was like when there was less of a commercial influence on the different elements of the sport.
For buyers out there who cherish simplicity, this soccer ball is a good option as it boasts a clean look and it also gives you the sense that you can rely on it to deliver when it comes to the basics of performance on the pitch.
- Weight – 320 grams
- Ball size – 3
If you’re not quite convinced about this particular Wilson ball, then you might want to have a look at the recommended alternative – the Wilson NCAA Copia II ball.
Although it doesn’t have as many reviews as the former, it comes with three different colour options of orange, optic yellow and white.
In addition to this, it’s available in more sizes.
The best of the rest
When talking about the best soccer balls that a person can buy, we shouldn’t just limit our choices to five standout options.
There are so many excellent alternatives on the market and it would be an injustice if this article didn’t give them a small mention as it draws towards a conclusion.
In light of that, here are some other soccer balls that offer great performance whilst maintaining a reasonable enough price point:
What to consider before buying a soccer ball
I will now offer a brief soccer ball buying guide before supporting my final recommendation.
1. Playing surface
The first thing you need to think about is the playing surface that you intend to use the soccer ball on.
In my article on where soccer can be played, I detailed the different venue types where the game can take place.
To make things clear, a game of soccer can be played on either of the following grass surfaces:
- Natural turf pitches
- Synthetic pitches
- 2G, 3G or 4G pitches
- Hybrid pitches
But the list doesn’t stop there, as soccer can also be played on indoor courts (futsal) or even on a busy street or quiet alleyway!
So, as a buyer you will need to figure out which surface you intend to play on the most as this will enable you to narrow down on your selection.
This is because a standard soccer ball purchased for training and playing competitive matches on grass will not be suitable for use on indoor courts; when playing on the streets or even on a sandy beach.
Now that you understand that, let’s discuss the size spectrum.
Soccer balls come in a standard spherical shape across the board, but they are sold in a fairly broad range of different sizes.
These sizes range from 1 (mini) to 5 (professional).
More specifically, the Football Association (FA) have published guidelines on ball sizes for different age groups.
Here’s my own adaptation of this:
|Ball Size||Circumference||Weight||Age Range|
|Size 1||18 to 20 inches||7 ounces||3 year olds and below|
|Size 2||20 to 22 inches||8 to 9 ounces||3 to 5 year olds|
|Size 3||23 to 24 inches||11 to 12 ounces||5 to 8 year olds|
|Size 4||25 to 26 inches||12 to 13 ounces||8 to 12 year olds|
|Size 5||27 to 28 inches||14 to 16 ounces||12 year olds and above|
If you want to hone your technical skills or simply need a ball for a little toddler to play with, a smaller size 2 or size 1 ball would be recommended.
On the other hand, there are different specifications when it comes to playing on indoor futsal pitches.
Here, the FA recommends that younger players under 12 years of age should use a size 3 ball, whilst players who are 13 years old and onwards should play with a size 4 ball.
To further your understanding on this, you can take a closer look at my article on soccer ball sizes as it contains information pertaining to this sub-topic that is much more fleshed out.
The next factor you need to consider is durability, and this is where the material of the football you buy is really important.
We Print Balls – a custom sports ball and equipment manufacturer – states that the outer surface of a soccer ball is usually made of synthetic leather and not full grain leather.
They also emphasise that soccer balls comprise of four different components, which are:
- The cover
- The stitching
- The lining
- The bladder
Synthetic leathers are usually made from two materials called polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl carbonate (PVC).
The former is said to be a more durable material and soccer balls made from polyurethane are often used by players and clubs at semi-professional and professional levels of the sport.
Soccer balls made purely with polyvinyl carbonate are sold cheaply on the marketplace and are often used for things like promotional events or practice sessions.
They also crack easily after extended periods of use – which increases the risk of skin scratches when playing – and they’re much harder to kick because of their rock-like outer surface.
Another consideration that a buyer would need to take into account before making their purchase is the type of internal bladder that was used in the construction of the ball.
The bladder is what holds the air inside the ball as it acts as an inner tube, and is made from either latex or butyl.
Butyl bladders retain the air for much longer periods of time than their latex counterparts, as soccer balls made from the latter often require frequent inflation.
However, latex bladders are said to provide better surface tension which translates into better contact performance when a person strikes the ball with their foot.
For further reading on this area, check out some of my other resources:
- What the soccer balls of today are made of
- Old soccer ball materials
- Inventor of the very first soccer ball
4. Panel construction
You’ll also want to inspect the way in which the panels of the soccer ball that you’re eyeing have been put together.
Before you take all the cash out of your wallet, consider this.
Why, you ask?
This is because of the longevity discrepancy between hand-stitched and machine-stitched soccer balls.
Soccer balls built by hand have their seams positioned slightly deeper at the areas where panels join together, which translates into greater durability that will see a soccer ball of this type last longer than one that had machine input.
I’ve detailed this more clearly in my hand-stitched vs machine-stitched soccer ball comparison article.
Now that you’ve gained an awareness and appreciation for the intricacy of a soccer ball’s panel construction, it’s time to talk about budget.
For the soccer fanatics who like to emulate the professional match experience to every fine detail by doing things like putting on shin pads, wearing base layers and sporting full length socks, a premium soccer ball would be a perfect choice.
These often cost between $140 and $250, but you can refer to my post on how much a soccer ball costs for further reference.
Conversely, the cheaper match balls and training balls which suit the more casual player are often in the $40 to $90 price range, whilst the bargain basement options feature from about as low as $5.
It’s safe to say however, that the lower priced options are usually of a much lower build quality than the premiums.
Here’s a table that aptly summarises all that pricing information:
|Category||Price Range||Brand Tagline (Nike | Adidas | Puma)||Description|
|Professional level||$140 to $250||Flight | Pro | Pro||For the professionals who perform in the top soccer leagues, as well as for the very serious academy players seeking to go professional|
|Match level||$40 to $90||Club | Competition | Match||Typically reserved for organised competitions at lower levels, such as at high schools and collegiate associations|
|Economy level||$20 to $40||Strike | League | Trainer||Great for training and individual practice sessions|
|Bargain bin||$5 to $20||Pitch | Training | N/A||Ideal for the casual player who participates sporadically. Also good for young children between the ages of 2 and 5.|
6. Ethically produced
Finally, you’ll also want to consider the methods that companies use to make these soccer balls.
You wouldn’t want to find out – say a couple of weeks or months after your purchase – that child labour was involved in the construction of the soccer ball that you spent money on!
Therefore, take a closer look at the country where the soccer ball is manufactured.
Do your own due diligence by reading about the safety standards that these companies try to adhere to and ensure to the best of your own ability that you’re buying from a brand that is human-rights friendly.
7. Personal use case
Ultimately, the type of soccer ball that you opt to go for should be governed by the type of activity you intend to use it for.
If you will be doing plenty of training such as dribble drills and close control work, then a training soccer ball is probably the best fit for you.
Conversely, if you will be playing in lots of competitive fixtures with it, then a match soccer ball or a premium one would be more ideal.
So, that marks the end of the buyer’s guide section.
I will now provide my verdict.
I can seriously vouch for the quality and overall performance of the Mitre Delta Professional Soccer Ball.
It’s a winner firstly because it sits at the right price point – not too expensive unlike the Adidas Uniforia Pro ball.
But even more importantly, it arguably offers the best combination of robustness and air retention, with the added uniqueness of water resistance to solidify it as “the icing on the cake” which ultimately makes it my standout pick.
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