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.
Best footballs: At a glance
|Best match ball||Nike Flight 22/23 (~£95)||Check price at Sports Direct|
|Best cheap training ball||Mitre Impel (~£12)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best soft football for kids||Chastep Foam Football (~£16)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best indoor football||Mitre Ultimatch Indoor (~£24)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best beach football||Forza Beach Football (~£27)||Check price at Amazon|
|Best futsal football||Mitre Delta Futsal (~£24)||Check price at Pro:Direct Soccer|
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 in 2023
1. Nike Flight 22/23: The best match football
Price when reviewed: £95 | Check Price at JD Sports
The official football of the Premier League, the Nike Flight is a step up in match ball engineering. Utilising Nike’s Aerowsculpt technology, the moulded grooves disrupt airflow across its surface to reduce drag and stabilise flight, giving you a more consistent, predictable trajectory.
The Flight also follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Nike Merlin, in that it features four fused panels – in contrast to the more standard 32 stitched panels – to create a larger sweet spot and eliminate stiff seams, benefiting you with a more powerful strike on goal. The outer also incorporates Nike’s All Conditions Control technology, helping to improve your first touch and provide reliable control, come rain or shine.
Developed for the use of the best players in the world, the finely-tuned Nike Flight offers precision and accuracy for consistent performance.
Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: Synthetic leather/rubber/cotton/polyester; Bladder material: Latex; Panels: 4
2. Mitre Impel Training Football: The best cheap training football
Price when reviewed: From £12 | Check price at 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 One: The best match football under £50
Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Amazon
There are three different Delta footballs to pick from in Mitre’s lineup, the cheapest of which is the standard Delta One. 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 One.
Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: PU; Bladder material: Laminated butyl; Panels: 14
4. Adidas 2023 UCL Pro Void: The best football for Champions League fans
Price when reviewed: £90 | Check price at Amazon
Donning the globally recognised star design of the UEFA Champions League, the UCL Pro Void’s panels feature a sharp mix of vibrant colours against a white casing, giving it a clean yet standout finish that, according to Adidas, was “inspired by the darkest depths of the universe…to help European football’s finest players sparkle on the pitch.” While we’re sure the multi-million-pound athletes are perfectly able to do that for themselves, we like the design nonetheless.
The panels on the Pro Void are thermally bonded, in comparison to the traditional stitching method, which helps to reduce water intake and ensure a more predictable flight. Along with these seamless panels, the ball features a texture pattern of tiny stars across the outer for improved control and a consistent first touch – always a plus – as well as a laminated butyl rubber bladder to guarantee long-lasting shape retention.
As always, the UCL ball comes with FIFA’s Quality Pro stamp of approval, but it also gets the deserved accolade of a place in our best lineup.
Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: PU; Bladder material: Laminated butyl; Panels: Not stated
5. Mitre Ultimatch Indoor: The best indoor football
Price when reviewed: £24 | Check price at 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. Oceaunz Pro Football: The official football of the 2023 Women’s World Cup
Price when reviewed: £130 | Check price at Adidas
The official match ball of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Oceaunz Pro features a meandering blue and yellow pattern with scattered golden speckles on the outer, intended to represent the magnificent coastlines, lakes and waterways associated with the host countries, Australia and New Zealand.
Featuring thermal fused panels, the seamless construction provides for predictable flight, a consistent bounce, and an all-round reliable performance, while the high-grade butyl rubber bladder ensures durability and lasting shape retention. To continue the important theme of habitat and wildlife conservation, this thoughtfully designed match ball is also made up of 20% recycled polyester.
Certified with the FIFA Quality Pro stamp, the Oceaunz Pro will take centre stage at the Women’s World Cup this year and, although a little pricey, is definitely one to add to the collection.
Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: 70% polyurethane, 20% recycled polyester, 10% viscose cover; Bladder material: Butyl rubber; Panels: Not specified
7. Vigoureux Chastep Foam Football: The best soft football for kids
Price when reviewed: £16 | Check price at 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 Summer Academy: The best Nike training football
Price when reviewed: £23 | Check price at Nike
Although not an official training ball, the Nike Summer Academy will suffice just the same. The design is sleek and simple, with the pink Nike Swoosh and high contrast volt yellow helping it live up to its summer denotation.
A child of the Nike Flight design – the official 22/23 Premier League ball – it boasts the same Aerowsculpt technology on the outer, with the moulded grooves to help reduce drag and provide a truer, more consistent flight. Alongside the grooves, the casing is textured for reliable control and first touch, no matter the weather, and the reinforced rubber bladder offers long-lasting air and shape retention.
Ideal for everyday use on grass and artificial surfaces, the Nike Summer Academy is definitely one to have in the bag.
Key specs – Surface: Grass and astroturf; Outer material: Polyurethane, Polyester, EVA; Bladder material: Rubber; Panels: 12
9. Mitre Delta Futsal: The best futsal football
Price when reviewed: £24 | Check price at Pro:Direct Soccer
In order to accommodate the harder playing surface, futsal balls tend to be smaller and less bouncy than standard footballs. As a result, they are often trickier to control and strike – subsequently attracting technical, skilful players, rather than more old-fashioned bruisers.
The Mitre Delta Futsal features a 30-panel design that incorporates Mitre’s Hyperseam technology to aid the consistency of its bounce, while its durable PU casing is built to withstand use on hard indoor futsal pitches – or courts, to be precise. On top of that, the Delta Futsal also benefits from a 4.5mm soft foam lining, which helps cushion the impact of the ball when taking a touch and benefitting close-quarter passing and control.
FIFA Quality Pro certified, the Delta Futsal is an excellent choice for reliable, high-level performance.
Key specs – Surface: Indoor (futsal); Outer material: Polyurethane; Bladder material: Butyl; Panels: 30
10. Forza Beach Football: The best beach football
Price when reviewed: £27 | Check price at 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