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Best football: The perfect footballs for training, matches, futsal and more


Whatever your skill level, wherever you play, here's all the advice you need to find the best football for your needs

There's never a bad time to upgrade your team's kit bag and invest in the best football available.

If you're one of the millions of people that play football regularly, it's important to ensure the equipment you're using is up to scratch. Aside from a decent pair of football boots and some shinpads, you're only really going to need a good football.

Not just any old ball will do, though. Footballs differ dramatically depending on the circumstances they're designed to be used in and come in a range of sizes.

That makes it all the more important to find the right one for you. That might be a durable training ball that will last for a number of years or a technologically advanced marvel that’s good enough to use in the World Cup or Premier League.

In this guide, you’ll find all the information you need to pick the best football for you, along with our top picks of the best footballs on the market.

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Best football: At a glance

How to choose the best football for you

What surface will you be playing on?

The first thing to think about is the surface you’re going to play on: this is key for both the ball’s durability and its playability, so make sure you work out where you’re going to be using the ball most. If you’re training and playing on grass then you’ll want a standard football, but those won’t hold up well if you're playing indoors or on the streets. There are specialist balls for playing indoors, on rough surfaces and even on the beach. Think about where you plan on spending most of your time, then go from there.

What size of football do you need?

Size is the next consideration. Once you’re in your teens, a size 5 ball is the standard and that’s the one to get, although it can be fun to do skill sessions with a smaller ball. The only occasion you’ll use a smaller ball for matches is when playing futsal, which uses a size 4 ball that weighs the same as a size 5 ball.

Beyond that, you want to decide how close to the footballs used by pros you want to go. An official FIFA-approved match ball will cost a lot more than any other ball, and although it will be made from the best materials and an absolute joy to play with, it might not be as durable as a training ball built to last at the cost of some playability. Within the premium match ball bracket, there’s also a fair bit of variation – there are some more durable options that will be cheaper than the absolute top-end balls used in the World Cup or Champions League.

There are also specialist balls for different types of football, such as indoor balls, which are less bouncy than outdoor balls and have a felt surface, and beach balls, which have a softer cover for playing barefoot. Astroturf surfaces tend to differ greatly but, in general, you can use a regular football on them. However, if you think your astroturf is particularly tough or scratchy, you’d be wise to make sure your ball has a durable outer surface.

What material should the ball be made of?

Synthetic leather is used to make the very best footballs, which offer the best feel and control for players. Polyurethane (PU) is a durable material that’s used for premium match balls and also to make most training balls, though some cheaper ones use PVC.

You also need to consider what the bladder inside is made of. Latex is used in premium balls to provide a softer feel, but latex bladders require frequent inflation. Cheaper balls use heavier materials such as butyl that might not feel quite as good on the foot, but will stay inflated for months at a time.

How much do I need to spend?

If you want to emulate the best in the game and play with footballs used at the highest level, you’re looking at spending £70 to £130 on one ball. Cheaper match balls come in at £25 to £50. Training balls cost far less, and you shouldn’t have to spend more than £20 to get a great one. In fact, good ones are easily found for around £10. There are footballs available for a couple of quid, but generally, these will burst often enough that it’s financially savvy to spend £5 to £8 on a sturdier ball. Specialist footballs like futsal, indoor and beach balls are a little more expensive; you can expect to pay around £20 to £30 for a ball, and maybe slightly more if you get an official match ball.

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The best footballs to buy

1. Nike Flight: The best match football

Price: £120 | Buy now from Pro:Direct Soccer

The Nike Flight is the official football of the Premier League and uses Nike's Aerowsculpt technology. Moulded grooves disrupt airflow across it and reduce drag, helping the ball remains stable in flight.

Like its predecessor, the Nike Merlin, the Flight features four fused panels to create a large sweet spot and incorporates the company's All Conditions Control technology, making it easier to keep under your spell regardless of the weather.

If you want a football fine-tuned for precise passing and accurate shooting that's built with the pros in mind, this is the ball to buy.

Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: Synthetic leather/rubber/cotton/polyester; Bladder material: Latex; Panels: 4

Buy now from Pro:Direct Soccer

2. Mitre Impel Training Football: The best cheap training football

Price: From £10 | Buy now from Amazon

Pump up this popular ball once and you’re pretty much set for life. It can handle constant use on pretty much any surface and in any weather, such is its durability, and it retains air like an absolute champ. The outer is built to last so isn’t as silky on the foot as a premium match ball, but there’s a soft foam lining inside that helps cushion the impact of the ball and increase its playability.

If you’re happy to spend a little more you can get the Mitre Impel Plus or Mitre Impel Max training balls for just a few pounds more. All three boast excellent durability but the outer surfaces tend to improve as you go up the line, with the Max offering a nicely textured PU outer for increased control.

Key specs – Surface: Indoor/laminate; Outer material: Felt; Bladder material: Reinforced rubber; Panels: 30

3. Mitre Delta: The best match football under £50

Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon

There are three different Delta footballs to pick from in Mitre’s lineup, the cheapest of which is the standard Delta. It boasts the FIFA Pro Quality accreditation mark of a top-level ball but at a price that makes it more accessible than the official Delta ball used in the English Football League.

The PU outer is resilient and has a textured surface to enhance ball control, while the laminated power bladder inside the ball is designed to keep your shots straight and true as they fly towards the top corner, or indeed out for a throw-in, depending on how precise your shots tend to be. The 14 panels on the outer surface are bonded using Mitre’s Hyperseam tech, which is designed to minimise water uptake and maximise air retention, so you’re not constantly having to pump up the ball.

If you want to splash out a bit more, there's the Delta Max, which features outer material made of a microfibre PU that is more durable and better protected against scuffs and scratches than that used on the Delta.

Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: PU; Bladder material: Laminated butyl; Panels: 14

4. Adidas UCL Pro Pyrostorm: The best football for Champions League fans

Price: £120 | Buy now from Adidas

This season's official Champions League ball is one of the best-looking to date and boasts a design Adidas says "reflects the white-hot intensity of European football's most prestigious club tournament". A few flaming stars don't quite do justice to 22 professional sportspeople kicking lumps out of each other but we appreciate the sentiment and think the design looks rather smart.

Thermally bonded panels mean the ball has no seams to speak of, reducing its water intake and helping to ensure a more predictable trajectory when struck. The Pyrostorm comes with FIFA's Quality Pro stamp of approval and it gets a big thumbs up from us, too.

Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: PU; Bladder material: Laminated butyl; Panels: Not stated

Buy now from Adidas

5. Mitre Ultimatch Indoor: The best indoor football

Price: £20 | Buy now from Amazon

Indoor football demands a very different type of ball and this option from Mitre is just the job for a kickaround in a school hall or competitive game on a laminate surface. Its felt panels reduce how much it bounces off walls and make it easier to control while playing inside. It's worth noting that indoor balls take an exceptional amount of punishment so don't tend to last as long as balls built for outdoor use.

Key specs – Surface: Indoor; Outer material: Felt; Bladder material: Polyester and rubber; Panels: 20

6. Adidas Uniforia: The official football of the Euro 2020 Championship

Price: £120 | Buy now from Adidas

Football may not have come home but the Euro 2020 championship is one that will live long in the memory. If you want to reminisce about the Three Lions' run to the final while playing with a first-rate football you'll want to pick up the Adidas Uniforia, the official matchball used in the tournament.

It features design elements that reflect the tournament's various host cities and is one of the best-looking balls of recent years. It's FIFA Quality Pro certified and has a seamless polyester surface for increased ease of control and what Adidas describes as a "more realistic trajectory".

If the £120 price tag is a little steep but you're craving some Euro 2020 nostalgia, the Uniforia "League" is a budget option costing just £30.

Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: Polyester; Bladder material: Rubber; Panels: 4

Buy now from Adidas

7. Vigoureux Chastep Foam Football: The best soft football for kids

Price: £16 | Buy now from Amazon

It's not always possible to get down to the park and not everyone has a back garden big enough to kick a ball around in. That's where the Vigoreux Chastep Foam ball comes in. This 8in football is bouncy, soft and lightweight, making it perfect for a bit of passing practice in the hallway or keepy-uppies in the kitchen.

Playing with it isn't recommended around priceless family heirlooms or expensive household tech, but used responsibly and ideally under parental supervision, this ball is great for kids making their first steps towards potential football stardom.

Key specs – Surface: Indoors; Outer material: Foam; Bladder material: N/A; Panels: N/A

8. Nike Strike: The best Nike training football

Price: £25 | Buy now from Sports Direct

The Nike Strike is a brilliant everyday football with a textured, machine-stitched outer surface that treads the line perfectly between feeling great on the foot and being very durable. That outer resilience is backed up by a butyl rubber bladder, which will retain its shape and stay inflated for long periods, even if you’re using the ball every day.

The Strike comes in a huge variety of designs, including balls linked to European leagues and top players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, but all of the Nike Strike balls feature bold graphics designed to help you track the ball as it pings around the pitch. If you want a ball that plays almost as well as a match ball and is robust enough to last you many months of kickabouts, the Strike is your best bet.

Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: TPU; Bladder material: Butyl; Panels: 12

Buy now from Sports Direct

9. Mitre Ultimatch Futsal: The best futsal football

Price: £22 | Buy now from Amazon

Futsal balls are smaller and less bouncy than standard footballs, making them a little trickier to control and kick. That’s why futsal tends to attract technical, skilful players rather than old-fashioned bruisers. Well, that and the fact that sliding tackles are generally a bad idea on indoor pitches.

The Mitre Ultimatch Futsal is available in sizes 3 and 4 and a few different designs, including the luminous yellow pictured above and a more traditional white. Its 30-panel design incorporates Mitre's Hyperseam technology to aid the consistency of its bounce, while its PU outer layer is built to withstand the rough treatment it will get on the hard indoor surfaces futsal is played on. Inside the ball is a 4.5mm soft foam lining, which helps cushion the impact of the ball on your feet and makes controlling it easier.

Key specs – Surface: Indoor (futsal); Outer material: Polyurethane; Bladder material: Butyl; Panels: 30

10. Forza Beach Football: The best beach football

Price: From £19 | Buy now from Amazon

Forza is the official supplier of balls to England Beach Soccer and this FIFA-approved ball features a 14-panel soft exterior complete with a 4mm foam layer to ensure it's extremely well cushioned. It's also thermobonded, meaning the panels have been bonded and glued together using heat. This decreases moisture absorption, which is crucial when you're playing close to water.

Available in three sizes – 3 for kids, 4 for juniors and 5 for adults – it's ideal for a casual kickaround on the beach but durable enough to withstand competitive action, too.

Key specs – Surface: Sand; Outer material: Polyurethane; Bladder material: Butyl; Panels: 14

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