Worried about the quality of your soccer ball?
When buying a ball, it’s important to know what it is made of and how it is made. The construction of the ball is what determines its quality and, therefore, durability. With that being said, there are three different kinds of balls you can purchase: rubber, synthetic leather, and laminate.
Rubber Soccer Balls
A rubber ball has a seamless form, meaning that it has no air leaks and is generally resistant to rips and tears. A kickball, for example, is a classic rubber ball. This type of ball is more expensive than its synthetic leather counterpart, retailing between $8 and $20, but it is long-lasting--up to 18 months of regular use. It does have its downside, though: it is typically not used in matches because of its tendency to have more bounce, which adds to its unpredictability. However, in various conditions and rougher terrain, we would certainly recommend these above the other options.
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Synthetic Leather Soccer Balls
Synthetic leather balls are recognizable as baseballs, basketballs, and footballs are commonly made of this material. The construction consists of seams and panels, as the fabric is sewn together to create the final product. Unfortunately, synthetic leather balls are not as long-lasting because of their fragility, between 4 to 12 months of use. They are the cheapest to produce and retail between $5 and $40, but vary greatly in their quality, which is reflected in the large discrepancy in pricing. Synthetic leather balls are the most popular choice among buyers because they are more predictable in their performance and affordability. The quality of the ball can typically be measured by the weight and thickness. Match typically weight between 14 oz. - 16oz.
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Bonded Soccer Balls
A bonded ball is similar in construction to synthetic leather, but all of its panels are bonded together. This creates a seamless design and has no air leaks. Bonded balls are more expensive, as they require more costs in production, so they range from $30 to $90. Some soccer balls are made of this bonded material and are generally of higher quality than synthetic leather soccer balls. However, the bonded balls typically do not offer the same predictability as the synthetic leather balls, which has been a strong criticism despite the superior durability.
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Latex Vs. Butyl Bladder
It is also important to know the components inside of the ball. Balls have what is called a bladder, which retains the air of the ball and creates a bounce. A butyl bladder has better air retention, is more responsive, has better weight distribution, and more effectively maintains the shape of the ball. A latex bladder is cheaper, but less responsive and has poorer air retention. It does, however, have a softer and more desirable texture. All western star soccer balls are made with
It is important to know what you are looking for when purchasing a new ball, as material and construction heavily contribute to its quality, durability, price, and performance. But it is not just what is on the outside that matters, but also what is on the inside.
The various types of balls and constructions different greatly depending on what you value. There is not necessarily one construction that is superior, it is more an issue of your own circumstances. For instance, if you are looking for longevity, the rubber soccer balls are typically going to be superior. However, as a serious player, we certainly would not recommend the rubber soccer balls. All in all, there is no best ball, but it is simply dependent on your needs.