The standard ball sizes intended for youth soccer players are 3, 4 and 5. Using the proper size allows children to develop their skills with soccer balls of the correct proportion. If necessary, ask the staff of your child’s soccer league or a coach which type of ball is best for your child. Typically, the correct ball size depends on your child’s age.
Children 7 years old and younger should use size 3 soccer balls. Check the printed information on the soccer ball to find a ball’s size. If you can’t find the markings, a size 3 ball should measure 23 to 24 inches in circumference. Use a flexible measuring tape, such as the kind tailors use, to measure the ball.
Size 4 soccer balls are suitable for children from 8 to 12 years old. The circumference of a size 4 ball should be between 25 and 26 inches.
Players over 12 years old should use size 5 soccer balls, which measure 27 to 28 inches in circumference. Size 5 is also the standard size ball for adult and professional players. The International Federation of Association Football, or FIFA, performs tests to ensure the soccer balls it uses meet rigid specifications. Look for “FIFA Inspected” or “FIFA Approved” markings on the soccer ball. Balls that carry these designations have undergone rigorous testing for circumference, roundness, rebound, weight, water absorption, loss of pressure, and shape and size retention.
Children need to develop ball-handling skills, so using a ball of the correct size and weight allows them to practice their skills without undue difficulty. For example, using a ball that is too heavy and large will make dribbling practice difficult for young children. Also, children must practice with a soccer ball that is the same size as the ball they will use during organized games and team practices. Being familiar with the way the ball will react and bounce makes it easier for children to play well when it counts.