The ball is the most necessary part of soccer. But with hundreds of different balls available, how do you choose one? What are the qualities that make a good soccer ball?

Ball Panels

All soccer balls, even cheap soccer balls, are made up of stitched-together panels. The number of panels has a major affect on the quality of the ball. Typically, balls are made up of 32, 26, or 18 panels. Generally, fewer panels means fewer seams in the ball. This translates to a truer performing ball that is rounder and absorbs less moisture.

Ball Casing

There are two major materials used to make the outer casing on most soccer balls, says Soccer Garage: PU(Polyurethane) and PVC(Poly Vinyl Carbonate).

PU balls are higher-performance. They are softer and more responsive to the foot. However, PU balls wear out more quickly. They are typically reserved for high-end games.

PVC balls are less responsive but more durable. This makes a PVC ball more versatile as it holds up to use on a wide variety of surfaces. PVC balls also make great practice balls because of their durability.

Ball Bladder

The inside of all soccer balls is made of either butyl or latex.

Butyl balls are firmer and retain air very well.

Latex balls are more responsive to the foot, but they require more frequent inflation.

Ball Inflation and Care

Quality balls should be kept inflated at 9-10.5 pounds of air and stored in soccer bags. This allows them to perform as they’re designed.