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.
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 soccer ball can look awesome, but if it lacks good response you're never going to fall in love with it. Your game really comes down to how well your ball performs. One trick you can do in the store to test a ball's performance is to give it a spin in the air. A well-balanced ball should spin smoothly. That will mean smooth sailing on the field. If you can, try it out. Try several of them until you find the one that feels just right.
This ball truly lives up to its name as a “glider,” having a stable flight path when shot and a nice feel when passed. The surface is relatively grippy, which is great for goalkeepers looking to practice their catches. Because the ball isn’t as slippery as some other replicas, you can shoot it with a bit more swerve, and dribbling and skill moves are a bit easier.
This ball is a size 5 which makes it great for small children to play with. Batteries for the lights are included. While they do have a long lifespan, they are easy to replace when the time comes. The LED’s shut off after a minute of inactivity, which helps make the batteries last longer. Your child’s knowledge of cause and effect will increase as they realize the ball lights up after being hit or kicked.
The downside? They’re expensive. Like, really expensive, depending on which one you get. Whether you really need one depends on your budget and how you’re going to be using your ball. For example, I use official match balls for practicing freekicks because they fly through the air really nicely. However, I don’t use them for training because if I lose my ball I’ll be set back $100-$300.
For those taking their game to the next level, it’s important to train with a ball similar to what is used for your matches. Your passing, shooting and general foot skills will be different for lighter soccer balls made with a premium bladder like latex. Try out an NFHS approved ball which is used for some club, high school, and college teams. To be NFHS approved, the soccer ball needs to: