Every four years there’s a new ball for the World Cup—and every four years players are unhappy with it. Maybe it’s too light and has too much lift, like the 2002 Fevernova. Or maybe it wobbles unexpectedly in the air, making it harder for goalies to predict its motion, like the 2006 Teamgist. Or maybe the ball suddenly changes speed, dropping out of the air and causing accidental handballs, like the 2010 Jabulani.
When looking for the right ball for your child, you may come across a reference to different sizes of soccer balls. These sizes can vary a bit from product to product but most do conform to certain league standards. A size 1 ball is also known as a mini ball and is typically between 18 and 20 inches in circumference. This size is perfect for toddlers and early walkers to help them develop footwork skills and ball control. A size 3 ball, or a junior ball, is usually between 23 and 24 inches around. This is the type of ball that most peewee soccer teams use as it is designed for children 8 years and younger. As your child grows and continues with their soccer team, they will eventually need a size 4 ball which is 25 to 26 inches. This is known as a youth ball and is ideal for children between 8 and 12 years of age. Finally, the size 5 or adult ball is 27 to 28 inches in circumference. This is the size of the soccer ball used by professional athletes and is suitable for anyone age 13 years or older.
“I kind of feel sympathy for the players and especially the goalkeepers that have to get used to a new ball,” Goff says. So far the Telstar 18 has received criticism from a few goalkeepers that played with it starting in November, unhappy with how it moves in the air and the way the surface feels. Goalkeepers, unlike every other player on the pitch, have to predict where the ball will go in order to block it, while also not having the freedom to run around the field to adjust as the ball flies. That means goalies often have the most complaints about a new design. “Every time there’s a World Cup and a new ball the goalkeepers complain, because they’ve been given a new ball,” says Goff.
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