- Choose a ball that is the correct size
Generally, younger players need a size three, pre-teens need a size four, and teens and adults need a size five. However, this varies in different leagues. It's important for you to practice with the same size as you will be using in game play so that you can get used to the way the ball plays off your foot and the way it moves through the air.
- Choose an indoor or an outdoor ball
Indoor balls are made specifically for the conditions of indoor soccer and are very different from other types of ball. Choose the ball that suits your normal practice and play conditions.
- Choose a ball made of the right material for your needs
If you are looking for a bargain, rubber balls seem like a good deal. They are not only cheap, but durable. However, they are nothing like the balls used in league play.
Any practice using a rubber ball will be wasted because the feeling, texture, and movement are so much different from other types of ball. PVC is a little more expensive and gives a better feel, although it has a plastic feel that is not as good as other materials.
Leather is a more expensive option, but it tends to absorb water and become too heavy for play. For this reason, most leagues use a moderately priced polyurethane ball, a synthetic material that is similar to rubber but more durable and water resistant.
- Choose a ball with the right type of bladder
The bladder is the inside part of the ball and gives the ball its shape and movement. Butyl bladders are the type used in cheaper balls. While they hold air well, they are not as responsive as latex bladders.
Latex bladders are used in the higher quality balls and give the best play. They lose air more quickly than other bladder types and thus must be inflated more often, but they are overall the best choice for the price.
- Choose a ball with the right panel number and design
The number of panels determines how the ball moves through the air as well as how much control the players have. This can range from 32 panels for an original type ball to a 6 paneled ball meant for indoor soccer.
Generally, a ball with fewer panels will be more aerodynamic and faster, while a ball with more panels will be more controllable and playable. The United States Major League Soccer currently uses an 18 panel ball, and this seems to be the case in most other professional level leagues.
- Choose a ball that is the right weight
Generally, the lighter ball is the preferred one. If the ball is too heavy, it may hurt to kick it very hard and lose momentum quickly.
- Choose a ball that is neither too soft nor too firm
A hard ball will hurt feet and heads, while a soft ball will be too bouncy. Choose a happy medium for best success.
- Choose a ball that is sewn together
There are a wide variety of ways to put together a ball, but none are as durable or easy to use as a ball with sewn together panels. The other balls are so flimsy they are almost disposable, so always choose a ball that has been sewn rather than glued or otherwise bonded.
- Choose a ball that is the right price
A good ball can usually be bought for around fifty dollars, which seems like a high price unless you are considering the craftsmanship, quality materials, and research that go into a ball of this caliber. However, for children's play, a cheaper ball is more practical. But as you move into more and more competitive teams, you will generally need a higher quality and more expensive ball.
- Choose a brand that suits your tastes and your needs
The difference between the different brands is not always quality so much as the research and the way they are made. You can try different brands to see which ones work for you and then look at the different prices within that brand.
The major brands such as Nike, Puma, and Adidas offer balls in a wide variety of price ranges, most of which are high enough quality for an amateur.
- Choose a ball that is as similar as possible to the one your league will be using in games
There's no use practicing on a ball that will be different than the one used in your games. All of your passes, shots, and ball skills will need to be different as well, giving you a disadvantage when it comes to being successful.
Keep in mind that choosing a high quality ball that meets your unique needs is the first step to finding success on the soccer field.