How to Choose the Right Soccer Ball - Crucial Tips
Well, it's no secret that everyone and everybody fiddled with a toy ball at some point in their life. Boys, especially, develop a particular affinity for rounded paraphernalia long before they even utter their first words. And it's not just affinity, it's more of a bewilderment and a little less of an obsession. Let's just say that it falls somewhere in between the two extremes.
After most babies have outgrown their crib and baby cots, their first treasured companion will either be a blonde doll or a rugged, half chewed ball. ( I still don't understand why kids love to gnaw on their balls.) After that, the macho ones will demand, wail and tug your skirts for a new ball, a better one at that, before they start spending all their afternoons in some isolated pitch dribbling and scoring imaginary goals.
So what happens when you want to choose a new ball for your kid? Or that teenage son/daughter who has finally figured out that they would have more luck scoring goals on the pitch than scoring dates? OK, here's how.
Is it an indoor or an outdoor ball?
As I noted earlier, most footballers worth mentioning today, from Lionel Messi to his bitter rival Cristiano Ronaldo started dating soccer balls long before they knew how to write. I suspect at that time their parents unknowingly bought them outdoor balls even though the poor lads could barely spend an hour in the sun without tones of sunscreen and lots of wailing. As you will come to know, outdoor balls are a little more expensive than their indoor counterparts. So, if your child is below 6 or 7, then there is no point in purchasing an expensive polyurethane outdoor ball only for them to end up chewing it rather than kicking it. See?
Just like everything else today, soccer balls have sizes too. I remember when I was 11 my dad brought home a monstrous Adidas ball that could barely fit in my backpack ( I used to carry my balls to school). Therefore, I devised a way of kicking it and dribbling it past random folks as I darted to school, amid their angered looks mixed with glances of admiration. I always cringe with embarrassment whenever I look back to those giddy days.
So, long story short, Size 3 balls are made for those kids who love chewing stuff, size 4 is for the pre-teens ( here's where you will know whether you have a star or a wannabe under your roof). And size 5 is reserved for the serious teenagers and the adults who are talented enough to keep us glued on our couches every four years in the name of FIFA World Cup.
Training or Match ball?
It's surprising that even in a game as beautiful as soccer, man has still found ways of alienating the stars and those who want to be like the stars. Funny, right?
Contrary to what you think, some of the balls that you will see the likes of Wayne Rooney hanker and fight over in the Barclays EPL every weekend in London can easily pay my entire year's salary. Those are 'premium' match balls and have passed all the approval tests and certifications by FIFA. Well, the rest of us have to contend with training balls that are a lot cheaper but can still endure hours of brutal kicks, rebounds and punches.
Far from the common misconception, there are no leather balls anymore. So don't go driving around town asking around for one. Balls are either made from PVC or PU (Polyurethane). PVC balls are cheaper ( about $20-$25) but are more rugged than the PU variants. Aside for being a little more expensive, PU balls are softer to the touch, glossy and very responsive. In fact, nothing can make you feel like a world-star player in your own backyard like a well-made PU ball.
When it comes down to the price, don't be fooled by the tags and all. You may surprised that to find out that a $450 Chelsea FC branded ball will not last longer than the last $40 'label-less' ball you already have. The same way a designer dinner jacket doesn't necessarily stand the test of time better than an ordinary one. Simply stick to your budget, size and preferred material and you'll be fine.