If you’re thinking about picking up the game of soccer or teaching it to your kids, then the size of the soccer ball you choose is more important than you may think. Balls that are oversized can cause foot and ankle injuries in younger children, while balls that are too small will not really help a player develop their handling, passing, or shooting skills.
For the modern game, soccer balls will generally come in three different sizes for competitive purposes. Each size is assigned a specific number.
- Size 3. Size 3 soccer balls are the smallest size that is used for official competition. They are generally reserved for children who are playing U8 soccer or below. A Size 3 soccer ball is up to 24 inches in circumference and will weigh between 10-12 ounces, depending on how much inflation it has been given.
- Size 4. Size 4 soccer balls are usually used in practices and competition for children playing U12 soccer or below. These soccer balls weigh up to 13 ounces and have a circumference of up to 26 inches.
- Size 5. Size 5 soccer balls are the standard match ball for any organized event that involves children competing in U13 soccer or above. It is the standard size for collegiate and professional soccer as well. This ball weighs up to 16 ounces and has a circumference of up to 28 inches.
Ball Size and Field Size in Soccer Are Correlated
As the size of the ball increases, the size of the field that players are recommended to play on by US Youth Soccer is also expanded. A complete chart of recommend field and goal sizes can help you find what the right specifications of the beautiful game are right for your team or player.
Children who are playing U6 soccer should be on a field that is up to 30×25 yards in dimension. The goal is generally 6×18 feet and the match format is generally 3×3 without goalkeepers. U8 soccer goes to 4×4 without goalkeepers on a field that is up to 35×30 yards.
US Youth Soccer recommends that full 11v11 soccer does not take place until a player reaches U14 soccer. At this age, the full-size field is also recommended, as is the full-size 8×24 foot goal. The only adjustment for U14 soccer is match duration, which is two 35-minute halves instead of the standard two 45-minute halves.
These are the recommended formats. Local leagues may require different rules, have alternative match formats, or use quarters instead of halves for timing purposes. It is more important for players to be comfortable with the game than to play in a specific format so they can work on their talents and skills.
When playing at home with a soccer ball, using the recommended size can help families avoid unintended injuries that may occur. Once a player becomes comfortable and skillful at their current ball size, however, it is definitely worth considering an upgrade to one of the best soccer balls in the next size up to continue their progression.