What Size Football is Best for my 8 Year Old (Soccer Ball Sizes by Age)Jan 20, 2023
Until a few years ago I didn't even know there were different-sized footballs. I thought there was one right size ball and everyone used the same one.
That was until my son, at 8 years of age, suddenly developed an OBSESSION with the sport.
He played for 2 teams, watched every documentary going, and read (!!!!!) a load of books on the subject and when he wasn't playing with a team or watching people doing 'skillz' on youtube, he was in the garden practising.
It was during this time that I learnt that younger players need a smaller ball.
In fact, it turns out that young players not only need a small ball, but they also need the right size soccer ball for their age, because apparently there are different sizes!
So, for example, you wouldn't give very young children the same size football as older players. Confusing!
8-year-olds, need a football SIZE 3, which is between 18-20 inches or 58-61 cm.
Soccer balls - Different sizes
The size of the ball that you choose will depend upon the age of your kid. If you too have a football-crazy 8-year-old, that needs a new ball every week, then we need to make sure you don't get them the wrong size!
Luckily, it's not too complex. When you are picking the best soccer ball size, follow this chart for the size of ball by age range, and you will be absolutely fine.
Soccer Ball Sizes By Age
0-3 year olds SIZE 1
4-5 year olds SIZE 2
6-10 year olds SIZE 3
10-14 year olds SIZE 4
15+ year olds SIZE 5
The full-size ball is a SIZE 5. So when you see a professional soccer ball on the telly being used by adult players, a size 5 is the official size they use.
A note here is to stick with a smaller ball for as long as you can. When Reuben turned 8 he was really hoping he'd be moving up to a larger ball - I guess it's a bit like when you want to wear bigger shoes, to show that you're growing up - but it really isn't a good idea.
For youth players, a size 5 (and often even a size 4) is too heavy and one of the main reasons is it's harder to do ball control exercises with. The right ball is essential for helping kids to develop their ball skills and reduce any risks of injury.
In fact, the Football Association updated their recommendations in June 2020 for youth football sizes. They now recommend that youth teams continue using a size 3 ball until players are over 10 (previously under 10s would move up to using a size 4 ball).
If you've got a little one (which we do - Nancy was 1 when Reuben started his football craze), getting the smallest ball, a size 1, is a lovely way to include them in any outdoor fun you are having.
These size balls are also great for improving a player's development because they are harder to control so great for keepy ups and other tricks.
We've had all sorts of different balls over the years and more often than not it comes down to what the ball looks like! If there's a World Cup or the Euros coming up, it's likely that that's the ball we'll end up with. I don't really think you can go wrong as long as you keep the air pressure high, but I do think it's worth looking for brands that have been Fifa inspected and passed their tests.
Another thing to consider is the type of ball you choose. Futsal Ball is a term that is banded about when you buy new soccer balls.
This is a youth soccer ball specifically designed to have less bounce, making it more of a skills ball. It's a great way for children to practise controlling the ball better. More on Futsal here: 10 reasons to play futsal.
Heading the Ball
Please note that it is highly recommended that children up to the age of 11 DO NOT head the ball even with a small size ball.
From U12, the English FA recommends that they do 1 training session a month that includes heading. Any younger age groups should not do any training sessions. See here for guidance.
Football During Lockdown
Reuben turned 8 during that first lockdown. If you remember it as vividly as I do, it was the Easter holidays with long, warm spring days and we absolutely loved it. We were able to play out in the garden and Reuben breathed, ate and even slept football. Literally. He wouldn't even entertain wearing pyjamas.
Doing PE with Joe Wicks in the first lockdown - in full football strip, of course!
He would have a bath and just put the next clean football strip (and sometimes even a dirty kit because I literally couldn't keep up with the washing pile demands!!!).
Getting the Family Involved
Up until the point that my son fell in love with the beautiful game, I had ZERO interest in football.
I just wasn't that into it. I had been to the odd game and enjoyed it, for the most part, and I even went through a spell when I was starting secondary school (in inner city Birmingham and desperately trying to fit in) when I became the world's biggest Aston Villa fan. It didn't last long.
My family are keen football fans - my Dad, Grandad and Uncle are HUGE Liverpool supporters (thanks to the Kevin Keegan days - he was a local lad from a nearby town, so they have supported Liverpool ever since).
Reuben has chosen to go down a different route to my family and supports Newcastle like his dad, which often causes 'light-hearted' banter (not so light-hearted at times) between my son and my dad. Eeeek!
Mum Football Skills
Anyway, my point is, I wasn't into football but as soon as I saw Reuben's enthusiasm it was infectious and during that first lockdown I started to play a lot more with him and increase my own skill level.
Now... I'll never be an athlete or a keen football player (in fact the last time I played properly with Reuben and my dad, I tore a ligament in the back of my knee that meant I couldn't fully extend or bend my knee for MONTHS) but I did really enjoy having a knock around with him. He started to teach me tricks, like how to do Keepy Uppys - my record is 7 in one go.
He also taught me how to do a Rainbow flick... which I can ALMOST do and has become my party trick. It doesn't go over my head but it's good enough to surprise people!
What I found was that practising with a smaller ball is SO MUCH EASIER! Reuben's dad was his team's football coach so over lockdown we had ALL the balls from training (which slowly got lost in the bushes and we'd need to do a weekly recce to find them all). So I think that (plus the fact we had a lot more time on our hands!!) was the reason I was able to get anywhere with my Keepy Uppys and Rainbow Flicks.
If you fancy getting into football a bit more, it might not be the correct size for your age, but I recommend you also use the smaller ball!