So many options, different sizes, lots of brands, and several price points… You’re left wondering: “which one do I pick?”, “am I paying a fair price?”, “is this soccer ball worth its price?”, “this ball seems overly expensive / too cheap…”.
To sum it up, you’re not sure how much money a soccer ball for your specific use type really costs.
Soccer balls cost between $5 to $20 for lower-end / recreational, size 3/4/5 items; $20 to $60 for size 4 and 5 training models; $60 to $100 for size 5 match balls; and $100 to $250 for premium level, size 5 soccer balls. Wholesale packs of 10, 50, or 100 balls range from $300 to $800.
How Much Money Is a Soccer Ball?
At first look, the soccer ball market seems overloaded with brands, models, sizes, weights, use types, and designs. So crowded it gets confusing.
This is especially true when looking at soccer ball prices — there are a ton of different price tags — and trying to understand how much money you should pay for the one that best suits your needs.
To help answer that and offer you a reference point, we’ve divided the most commonly available options into different price range tiers and levels of quality.
|Tier / Quality||Price Range||Info|
|Recreational / Low||$5 – $20||Recreational soccer balls. Good choice for toddlers and children, for casual kicking around and learning how to play and do tricks. Usually come in sizes 3, 4, and 5. Lower to average quality materials.|
|Training / Good||$20 – $60||Great type of ball to practice and use on training sessions. Ideal for youth, teenage and adult players who take soccer more seriously. Come in sizes 4 and 5. Average to good quality materials and construction.|
|Match / High||$60 – $100||Used as the official match in many high-school, college, and local competitions. This type of ball features high-quality materials and construction almost as good as those in the next tier. Usually come in sizes 4 and 5.|
|Professional Match / Premium||$100 – $250||Dream type of soccer ball; the true beacon in the best national, continental, and international leagues and tournaments such as the World Cup. Used by the biggest stars of Planet Association Football.|
Soccer Ball Prices & Tiers Explained
Why Do Soccer Ball Prices Differ So Much?
With the numerous soccer ball brands and models available, deciding which ball to pick and especially how much would be fair to pay can get tricky.
Focusing on just one manufacturer and its options seems a good idea. But then you realize that the same manufacturer offers very similar-looking balls with very similar-sounding names.
The most noticeable difference, though, it’s their price tag. Why is that?
These similarly-looking, similarly-named, different-priced models are merely categorizations known as tiers.
What Are Soccer Ball Tiers and How Do They Work?
Soccer ball tiers work more or less as segmentations in the car industry that go from the smaller, less expensive models to the better, faster, and more expensive sportscars.
In the soccer gear industry, a tier system is used to segment soccer ball models by use case, target market, and overall quality — the last referring to the construction type, technology, design, and materials used.
Each manufacturer has its own branded tier names — nothing more than cute names for marketing purposes. Despite that, what they define remains consistent across the different brands.
That said, there are essentially four main tiers.
- Professional Match
Soccer Ball Tiers Breakdown
Tier 1: Recreation
Quality Level: Low
Price Range: $5 – $20+
Commonly Available Sizes: 3, 4, and 5
Use Type: Size 3 for toddlers and children; size 4 for preteens just kicking around and experimenting doing some tricks; size 5 for casual games between friends. For users who don’t plan on taking care of their football and don’t mind if it gets broken after a while.
Tier 1 soccer balls have poor construction and use low-quality materials.
These balls come with a butyl bladder which is very efficient at holding the air remaining pumped for up to a month. They’re also pretty good at keeping their shape but fail at providing a responsive feel and optimal touch.
Tier 1 footballs come with no lining layers — one of the reasons why this type of ball has a weaker construction and offers less controllability.
Tier 1 balls have PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) covers (or a cheaper material). They don’t feature any micro texturing, being super slippery and smooth.
They have more panels than models in higher tiers, making them less round. They might not even be perfectly round.
The panels are machine-stitched, and the stitching itself is generally poorly made. By taking a closer look, you’ll see missing stitches and some stitching lines that don’t even go straight.
As far as design is concerned, they look the same as the models in higher tiers. Manufacturers usually keep the same look across different tiers in the same line, but the quality and performance are different.
If you’re buying a soccer ball only to kick around and have fun or offer it as a gift to a child, don’t want to spend a lot of money, don’t plan on taking good care of it, and don’t worry if it gets ruined quickly, Tier 1 soccer balls might be a good option.
Tier 2: Training
Quality Level: Solid, consistent, good.
Price Range: $20 – $60
Commonly Available Sizes: 4 and 5
Use Type: Size 4 for youths (8 to 12 years old); size 5 for from 12 years up. For players who are starting to take soccer and their skills development more seriously. Great ball to practice, use in training sessions or more competitive matches. Can be used on rough surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, clay, and dry grass.
Depending on the manufacturer and model, a soccer ball that falls into Tier 2 has average to good quality materials and solid construction.
Tier 2 balls are consistent, affordable, and built to stand the test of time. They can be used several days per week on grass or turf and keep their performance, size, weight, and even look for a long time.
That’s why balls in this category are the most sold in sports stores.
Tier 2 balls come equipped with a Butyl bladder like Tier 1 models. Bladders made out of butyl, a synthetic rubber, offer higher durability. That’s important since they are meant for frequent use under good or rough circumstances.
As for the lining (that goes between the bladder and the casing and provides shape and structure to the ball), Tier 2 balls usually feature up to four layers.
Less expensive Tier 2 footballs (we use this term and “soccer balls” interchangeably) use PVC for the casing (i.e., cover) whereas more expensive ones use TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane).
They have the same technology as balls in higher tiers for the cover, but due to the lower quality of the materials used things like grooves or dimples are less significant.
Even so, they feature a micro-textured surface that optimizes feel and touch.
A great number of them are machine-stitched, but many already come with molded panels which are even better.
All in all, Tier 2 balls offer an okay performance. If your budget is around $30 and you enjoy this type of ball, you’ll be pretty satisfied with your purchase.
Tier 3: Match Ball
Quality Level: Match-ball quality, FIFA Quality certified
Price Range: $60 – $100
Commonly Available Sizes: 4 and 5
Use Type: Size 4 for youths (8 to 12 years old); size 5 for from 12 years up. For serious soccer players. Official match ball used in high school, college, and local and regional tournaments. Also used in club training sessions.
Models in this category are official match balls for high school, college, local and regional tournaments. Besides being great for matches, they’re often used in club training sessions and by semi-professional players.
They may boast the “FIFA Quality” or “FIFA Inspected” badges, the NCAA (“National Collegiate Athletic Association” in the United States) official match-ball stamp, or the NFHS (“National Federation of High Schools” also in the U.S.) certification.
Tier 3 footballs have high-quality materials and construction. They can keep their materials and shape in good condition for a long time.
This ball segment is suited for different playing surfaces and ready for distinct weather conditions and temperatures.
Soccer balls in this category either sport a latex bladder or a higher quality butyl bladder. Tier 3 and 4 models tend to lose air much quicker than those in lower tiers, but offer better bounce, softer touch and feel, and quicker responsiveness.
When it comes to the lining (or underlining), these match balls have multiple layers — the more, the better.
If their casing has thermally-bonded panels, they can, instead, feature a fabric patched carcass — which consists of a set of patches pasted over the surface of the bladder, heated up, and molded to perfectly adjust to the size and shape of the bladder.
Tier 3 balls come with a Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) casing. But the more expensive models in this category may already feature a Polyurethane (PU) cover.
The micro-textured surface they have features grooves or dimples for better flight predictability.
Panels for Tier 3 footballs either use a Threadless Seamless Beveled Edge (TSBE) type of construction, are thermally bonded or fused, or are hand-stitched.
Tier 3 soccer balls are high-performance, reliable balls with great bounce, feel, touch, flight predictability, and responsiveness. It’s up to you and how high your budget is to gauge whether this upgrade is quality is worth the cost.
Tier 4: Premium
Quality Level: Star level quality, FIFA Quality Pro
Price Range: $100 – $250
Commonly Available Sizes: 5
Use Type: For professional soccer players. Official match ball for FIFA, UEFA, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL international competitions, and the World’s best soccer leagues.
Tier 4 is the top of the line. You just can’t get better than this. These are the official match balls of national teams tournaments (World Cup, Euro Cup, Gold Cup, Copa América) and the best soccer leagues in the World.
Models in this ball category proudly display the “FIFA Quality PRO” stamp of approval which certifies that they have passed all of FIFA’s Quality Programme for Footballs tests.
Balls in Tier 4 are built with the highest-quality materials and the latest technological advancements. Although durable, they are not suited for hard surfaces; they’re mainly intended to be used on grass pitches.
This type of model usually has a bladder made of a soft material like latex. which offers it a premium ball feel alongside an improved bounce and responsiveness.
Newer models already come with high-grade butyl bladders that keep the same sensation and performance and help with shape retention and bounce precision.
This softer touch and feel comes at a cost, however: poorer air retention capabilities. Meaning that these balls lose air fast. You’ll just have to pump them every time before play.
Like those in Tier 3, Tier 4 models have several layers of lining or, if they have thermally-bonded panels, a patched carcass that embraces and protects the bladder.
Tier 4 footballs come with very-well-made covers of super high-quality materials — generally Polyurethane (PU) — finished off with a resistance coating that offers extra protection and makes them shine even more.
Depending on the manufacturer, the casing will feature 3D micro texturing and some advanced technology with deep grooves or dimples across the entire surface of the ball.
This kind of technology provides better aerodynamics allowing for a truer flight and maximum predictability. When you kick the ball straight in one direction, it is sure to go straight in that direction.
Tier 4 footballs have hand-stitched or (seamless) thermally-bonded or thermally-fused panels. Hand-stitched balls with a lower number of panels (due to better panel design and shape) will greatly benefit from fewer seams.
Fewer seams equal fewer hard spots and a more consistent contact behavior regardless of where your foot touches the ball. No knuckles, no unexpected behavior.
Simply put, premium match balls are the best of the best boasting the most advanced technology and highest quality on the market. These are the very same footballs that the greatest stars of the beautiful game use every day.
When you combine the latest construction techniques and the best materials, you’ll get a premium feel and touch, a more predictable flight, higher bounce accuracy, quicker responsiveness, and an overall better ball.
Are Tier 4 Premium match balls worth the cost? Some folks say they are, others are not so sure about it. One thing is certain, you’ll only know once you try them.