DICK'S PRO TIPS | FOOTBALL BUYING GUIDE
Start here for the gear you need and advice from our experts
Your first step toward throwing a first-down pass or grabbing a touchdown catch is finding the right football. You will need to choose the pigskin that matches your skill level and style of play.
Footballs come in a variety of materials. Each material has different playing surfaces, levels of durability and water resistance. The most common football materials are:
- Leather footballs are the highest quality ball available. These are the balls used in college and professional leagues.
- The leather is specially treated during the manufacturing process to make the ball tacky and easier to grip.
- The most expensive options, genuine leather footballs are often used in gameplay or exclusive practice play.
- When playing in the rain or wet conditions, leather footballs can be harder to grip.
- Composite footballs include both synthetic leather and rubber.
- These balls can resist moisture better than genuine leather. Many synthetic leather and rubber footballs are 100 percent waterproof.
- Composite footballs are less expensive than genuine leather, but they may not be as high of quality.
- These balls are often molded with a specific texture to help improve grip.
- Composite footballs are commonly used for practice and recreational play.
You should consider lining and bladder when purchasing either a leather or composite football. Multilayered lining and butyl bladders help retain the football’s shape and structure over time.
Most footballs fall into one of four age groups based on the levels of play. Remember: You don’t want to give a player a ball that is too big for them. This can affect the success of gripping and throwing the ball.
- Ages: 6–9 years old
- Size: 5 Football
- Designed for the youngest football players. Pee Wee footballs are small and light enough for a young child to grip and throw.
- Ages: 9–12 years old
- Size: 6 Football
- The next size up from Pee Wee footballs. Junior footballs are a little bigger and can help younger players improve control and master proper throwing form.
- Ages: 12–14 years old
- Size: 7 Football
- Youth footballs are a step up from junior footballs. Most youth players need a larger ball to keep up with development in hand size and skill.
- Ages: 14+
- Size: 9 Football
- These are the balls used for anyone in high school or above. Official footballs are the balls used at both the collegiate and pro levels.