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How to Choose a Football

Choosing a New Football

Figuring out how to choose a football is about knowing what you’ll use the ball for and matching the football type with your activity. Some footballs are made for rugged use, while others are made for kids’ use. Buying a football isn’t only about selecting an official NFL football or a real leather ball.

When choosing a football, here are factors to keep in mind.

Decide Your Price Range

Choosing a price range will have a major impact on your search. Decide on the upper limit of what you are willing to spend on this piece of sports equipment and don’t go over that limit. This might limit your possibilities or keep your from purchasing a ball that would be used in a regulation NCAA or NFL game, but you can find a good football for your needs at a reasonable price.

Determine the Material Type

Footballs are made out of a number of materials: leather, synthetic leather, rubber or foam. Each of these balls are ideal for certain situations, but might not be useful under other circumstances.

Foam or Nerf footballs are great for kids, because they are lighter and cheaper, so if they lose or tear up the ball, you can replace it easier. These are great for touch football, flag football or more confined spaces.

Rubber footballs or synthetic leader are cheaper than leather, but more durable than foam. Once again, these are good for kids. Get one of these balls if you think a regulation leather football is too big for your kids to throw comfortably, but they are likely to play tackle football out in the yard. Rubber football can be throw further than most foam balls and will make a tight spiral. At the same time, if you live in a colder climate, these balls can turn hard as a rock when it gets colder.

Leather Footballs

Leather footballs are what college and pro leagues use and are considered “the best” footballs. They are also going to be more expensive, but much more durable.

Also, remember when buying leather footballs and certain rubber or synthetic leather types, you’ll also need to buy a small hand pump and pump needle to air up your balls. With a air needle, you can do the same with a bigger air pump.

A leather ball is going to naturally have a better grip, if the ball is the right size for your hands. Make sure the ball isn’t too slick, because this negates the advantage. Usually, brand new leather balls won’t be too slick, though older leather balls will tend towards slickness.

Get the Right Size

Make certain to choose the right size for the people playing. If you get a regulation sized ball for your kids, they might have trouble getting their fingers around the ball and throwing it properly. Official leather footballs might be too heavy for your child to throw effectively. This can limit the enjoyment kids have, because they’ll want to be able to palm the ball and throw it the way their favorite football star does it.

If you have your child with you, let him grab the ball and test it himself. Make sure that the boy can grip the strings about 2/3rds of the way up the ball, palm the ball and get his fingers around it at the same time. If the ball “feels right”, it should be good for him when throwing.

For teenagers and older kids, you’ll probably want to buy a regulation size ball or something close to that size.

Consider Special Features

For younger kids, a Nerf or foam ball with softer touch padding on the ends is advisable. This limits the damage caused when a spiral gets through their hands and hits them. Softer balls will limit the damage when the balls hits you in the nose, eye area or mouth.

Also, softer balls will limit damage caused by the jamming of the finger. Even experienced receivers can hurt their fingers when a football hits the tip of their finger. This will cause an injury sometimes called “catcher’s finger”, because it happens to baseball catchers so often. The ball hits the tip of the finger, jamming it and breaking a tiny bone in the top knuckle. I had to wear a splint for a month one, because of a football-related catcher’s finger. It happens.

Understand Your Conditions

Understand the conditions where you’ll be using the ball. If you or your children are likely to be playing at dusk or during the night, getting a brightly colored ball, a ball with white stripes on either end or a reflective ball is advisable.

Official Balls

The NFL Official Football is a leather football produced by Wilson that are 11-11.5″ long, 28-28.5″ circumference, 21-21.25 width and 12.5 to 13.5 pounds. If your children want an official National Football League ball, that’s what you should be looking for.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at 5:27 pmand is filed under Football, Youth Football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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