Who doesn’t need a football? Whether you’re into competitive play or simply enjoy watching games on Saturdays/Sundays. And if you grew up in the United States, chances are you’ll toss or play catch with a football at some point in your life. Maybe you’ll have a quick game with your buddies or bring it along for a tailgate before cheering on your favorite NCAA/NFL team. I’ve always enjoyed playing football, whether it’s an organized game or just having a fun scrimmage in the park with friends. It’s the most popular sport in the US, so we’ve got you covered with the best footballs for both casual play and league matches. Plus, we’ve even got the same ones used in NFL and NCAA games!
Just FYI for those outside of the US, we are speaking of the best footballs for US football. If you were looking for football (aka soccer in the US), check out this article.
What To Look For When Buying a Football?
While the shape, size, and material of a football may seem similar across all brands, there are some key factors to consider when selecting the best football for your needs. Here are some things to look out for:
Material and Durability
- Leather: The top choice for professional and collegiate play. Genuine leather footballs, like those offered by Wilson, provide excellent grip and feel, improving with age and use.
- Composite Leather: Ideal for recreational play and younger players, composite leather footballs offer durability and a consistent grip in various weather conditions.
- Foam: Used in soft foam footballs, this material is perfect for young children, recreational, and indoor play. It’s also great for teaching proper throwing techniques.
Grip and Control
- Laces and Texture: The grip is crucial in American football. High-quality footballs feature strong laces for better control for throwing. Plus a textured surface to ensure a secure grip for receiving and running.
What are the Different Football Sizes?
- Official Size (Size 9/9+): This is the standard size used in high school, college, and the NFL. It’s suitable for players aged 14 and up.
- Youth Size (Size 8): Suitable for players aged 12-14. It’s slightly smaller than the official size.
- Junior Size (Size 7): Used by players aged 9-12. This size is designed for younger players to handle more easily.
- Pee Wee Size (Size 6): Suitable for players aged 6-9. It’s significantly smaller and lighter, tailored for young children.
- Mini Size: Often used as a novelty item or for recreational play by all ages. This size is not standardized and can vary greatly.
Best Footballs For All Levels
1) Wilson NFL Super Grip (Best Value)
I’ve found the Wilson Super Grip Football to be an exceptional value for its price. Its composite leather provides a fantastic grip and durability, making it ideal for both recreational play and more serious training sessions.
However, I’ve noticed that the grip can diminish slightly once the ball gets dirty, which is something to keep in mind during play.
Despite this, the balance and feel of the ball remain outstanding, ensuring consistent performance every time I play. Plus, its affordability combined with these high-quality features makes it a top choice for players who want a reliable football without breaking the bank.
2) Wilson “The Duke” Football (NFL Official Football)
In my opinion, the Wilson “The Duke” Football stands out as the best football on the market, with its feel and touch of premium leather being second to none. Plus it’s the official football of the NFL, making it a must-have for fans who value authenticity and connection to the professional game.
While it is the most expensive option available, the investment is absolutely worth it for the unparalleled quality and the thrill of playing with an official game ball.
3) Nerf Pro Grip Football (Best For Recreational Youth)
I have fond memories of playing with the Nerf Pro Grip football as a kid, and I still believe it’s one of the best choices for kids. Its foam construction makes it safe and painless for kids to play with, eliminating the fear of getting hurt. The ball is incredibly easy to throw and catch, which is perfect for developing young players’ skills and confidence. Additionally, its affordability makes it a great option!
4) Franklin 1000 (Best For Competitive Youth)
I’ve always found the Franklin Sports Youth Footballs to be an excellent choice for organized youth play. Because the availability in a pack of 12 is particularly convenient, making it easy to equip an entire team or have plenty of spares for practice sessions.
And the quality of these balls, coupled with their great price point, offers incredible value, especially when catering to larger groups/teams.
5) Nike Vapor Elite (NCAA Official Ball)
The Nike Vapor Elite football stands out as one of the best options on the market, and for good reason. Its use in some official NCAA games is a testament to its high quality and performance standards.
The ball’s design and material offer excellent grip and a consistent flight path, which are crucial for competitive play. Moreover, its durability and superior construction make it a reliable choice for players who seek a top-tier football experience in line with collegiate-level standards.
6) Wilson GST Game Football (NCAA Football)
I personally find the Wilson GST Football to be a standout choice. Especially since its one of the softest football leathers on the market, providing a unique feel that allows for easier grip and control. Plus it’s also used as the official ball in some NCAA games.
Additionally, the fact that it’s made from 100% exclusive Horween leather. And it’s crafted by Wilson’s skilled artisans in Ada, Ohio, adds a touch of quality and authenticity that I value highly.
7) Nike All Field 4.0 (Runner-Up Value)
I’ve always appreciated the Nike All-Field 4.0 Football for its overall quality and value. In my experience, it strikes a perfect balance between durability and performance, thanks to its robust construction and excellent grip.
Most importantly, it offers great value for its price, making it an accessible choice for players who want a reliable football without a high price.