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Soccer

Best Soccer Ball

Soccer balls have come a long way since the days of Pele and Chinaglia. You won't find the traditional black and white hexagonal patterns much anymore, as equipment companies are now looking to define their balls with exclusive visuals and technologies meant for superior function. But one thing remains consistent; all you need to play the game is a ball. No matter if you're on a league team or if you're playing three a side, a soccer ball is the only necessity to getting outside and having fun. Yet, with all of the new developments in manufacturing, there are now a wide variety of materials and various methods of construction used in every ball, and it can get confusing trying to make sense of all the variables that exist. It's not as simple as just walking into your local sporting goods store and grabbing one off the shelf these days. But fear not; no matter what the age and skill level of the players or intended area of use, there is an option that will fit your needs.

This list reflects five of the best soccer balls on the market right now, based upon a variety of specific criteria. First, the construction of these ball is important, with elements such as the number of panels that have been used to create each ball (18, 26, and 32 are the most common) playing a vital role in how they perform. Touch is a big part of deciding which ball is the most dynamic on the field and this brings us to two other points of criteria, the balls outer material and bladder. These best soccer balls are made of synthetic leather and contain latex bladders. Synthetic leather offers the best bounce and cuts down on water absorption, while latex is preferred because of the way it plays and responds on the field. Other bladders such as butyl are often too hard once they're inflated, adversely affecting both touch and response. Finally, the graphics along the exterior of these selections may seem like simple aesthetics placed there for panache, but major companies are now using the bold and colorful visuals to improve the game for the players by way of greater visibility. If these ball are easier to see, it's easier to engage them to make the game faster and more exciting as the scoring increases. Finally, these balls have each been certified and approved by the governing bodies of FIFA and/or NFHS.

Nike Ordem 3 Official Match Soccer Ball 2015

Predicated on the notion that a higher-visibility ball results in better player performance on the pitch, the Ordem 3 has been given Nike's Visual Power Graphic, an aesthetic design that incorporates bold bright colors such as orange, magenta, bright red, and neon green players can quickly catch sight of the ball. The exterior TPU cover of the ball is comprised of 12 triple-layer synthetic leather panels that have been fuse-welded to keep the ball as perfectly round as possible, while special AerowTrac grooves help make it fly farther and more consistently across the pitch with every kick. This ball has some terrific swerve and the enhanced control of the micro-textured grip along the surface gives it superb aerodynamic response. On the inside, you get a six-wing carbon latex bladder that provides for accurate rebound characteristics, excellent air retention, and explosive acceleration. Nike knows their ball is pretty awesome too, so they're backing the Ordem 3 with a two-year limited guarantee to cover the stitching and to make sure the ball retains its near flawless spherical shape.

Adidas Performance Conext15 Top Replique Soccer Ball

The Conext15 takes its place alongside those previous balls that Adidas has researched, developed and built specifically for use in soccer events that took place on the world stage. The 2014 version took two and a half years to test and refine, with players from Messi to Alves to Zidane all offering their input on the best and worst aspects of the company's design, this newest version took those innovations and fine-tuned them for a ball that reflects the elements of nature, earth, wind, and fire. These can be found in the black, green, and red graphics emblazoned across the exterior, however, it's what Adidas put into the ball that really impresses. Their unique panel and construction design of six X-shaped premium polyurethane panels that have been thermally bonded for a seamless surface resulting in better aerodynamics, a more dependable trajectory and minimal water absorption. The entire surface of the ball uses a beaded texture for improved touch and grip and the ball is incredibly lightweight. The interior latex bladder offers stronger rebound support and since it's the official FIFA ball for the tournament it complies with every governing regulation with respect to circumference, weight and all other aspects of the ball.

Puma evoPOWER 1 Statement Match Soccer Ball

Puma has been making some terrific soccer equipment and apparel as of late, so it's not much of a surprise to discover their latest ball, the evoPOWER1, is getting the job done on the field as well. The company has combined high-quality materials, dimpled texturing, and fewer outer seams to offer a ball you might expect would list at twice the price of its retail cost. Twenty cover panels have been high-frequency molded for reliable touch, shape, and durability, while also limiting the water intake that might be experienced in wet conditions. Those panels have been infused with two separate golf ball style dimple sizes to provide for true aerodynamic movement and accurate trajectory upon release. Puma has given it a rubber bladder and added theirPUMA Air Lock (PAL) Valve, and Perimeter Balance Technology (PBT) to keep the structural integrity of the ball intact so it rolls, spins, and flies with consistency throughout the duration of the game.

Select Royale Soccer Ball

Select has a number of quality products on the market but the best of the bunch is the Royale, a ball that's mostly popular in high school and college leagues. This ball is 32 panels of soft polyurethane which have been hand-stitched, not that you can see the fine craftmanship of those hands since the stitching isn't visible on the outside. The bladder is latex throughout, but does have a butyl valve, presumably to prevent the latex from losing air. This must be why the ball keeps its shape so well after repeated, high-impact use. The Royale is lightweight without being too bouncy, dribbling and passing with it made me look like a much better skilled player than I actually am while it also flies well on those long kicks. There's not much else I can say to convince you that this is one of the best balls around, except maybe that it's priced even better than the Catalyst at some retailers, and it also comes with a two-year guarantee in the event everything I've told you about how well it keeps its spherical shape turns out to be a total lie (spoiler: it's not).

Brine Championship Gold Soccer Ball

Brine has upgraded the Gold with their Championship edition, which has been NFHS approved and has been the official ball for NCAA competition. The ball has 32 hexagonal panels, skewing more to the aesthetics of the old school even without the typical black and white classic color schemes as Brine has modernized it just a bit. Seamless molding has become the norm with most high-end balls these days, taking the stitching out of the equation has improved ball precision and trajectory, with choosing to continue the trend. Each polyurethane panel is slightly padded, so there's a soft touch to the ball and there's just a little hint of give when you drive your forefoot into it. This is a lightweight ball using a latex bladder and the only real drawback I found with it was that it tends to lose air somewhat quicker than I'd like to see in a high-quality match ball alhough I'm probably nit-picking now.

Marc Gottlieb
I'm a rabid sports-aholic who's been to Super Bowl XXI, the Indy 500 and witnessed Doug Flutie's hail mary pass to Gerard Phelan live in Miami. Sundays are sacred in my household and I'm a two-time back to back champion of my fantasy football league. I played a lot of sports in high school; football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and I was on the school ski team. I even tried my hand at racquetball in college. I've jumped out of two perfectly good airplanes and bungee jumped off a construction crane. Since then I've worked for one of the top product placement companies in Hollywood, coordinating with most of the major sports apparel labels to get their products featured in films and TV. But it's a life-long obsession with music and film that has given me years of experience with the latest technologies and innovations in electronics. If they've built it, I've tried it and likely bought it. Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray players; I own multiple units that cater to all of these formats and more. A misspent youth immersing myself in pop culture meant I craved the hottest devices through which to enjoy it all, and at the highest possible quality. What I learned over time though, is that the most expensive items aren't always the best.
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