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Best American Football Balls

Best for Training Youth
ESPN Future Pro Junior Football
  • » Designed with training elements to develop the football skills

Best for Pee Wee
NIKE Vapor Strike Pee Wee Football
  • » Covered with propriety leather providing you with a superior football feel

Best Grip
Wilson Composite Leather Football
  • » Provides 174% increased grip in any conditions

Written by James Cooper
Last Updated
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Most of the balls used in sports are spherical in shape, serving its function for easy rolling and bouncing. In the case of American football balls, they are designed and made prolate spheroid shape causing them to bounce oddly. The football balls are easy to carry and throw but their unpredictable stumbling makes it hard to pick it and grip it up once it bounces on the ground posing a challenge to the players. That’s also the reason why fumble recoveries are one of the most exciting parts of a football game. Skilled players with the best play and best strategies may be able to win the game by scooping a fumbling football.

The American football game is one of the favorite sports in America. The NFL game is so valued that the NFL Superbowl is highly anticipated and celebrated completed with family gatherings and grand halftime shows. Therefore, it is really no surprise that players start training football at a very young age. They begin investing in buying football gear and balls. The distinct American football balls for collegiate and professional football are made of cowhide leather while the younger players use football balls made of vulcanized rubber or synthetic material. The following products are the finest options for training football, playing high school or collegiate football, and even a choice for pros.

You may also read:

Best American Football Gloves

  • 1

    ESPN Future Pro Junior Football

ESPN definitely knows their sports and they definitely know the gear and ball you need to train to be like the NFL pros. Their junior footballs are best to be used as training balls for aspiring NFL players. The ball is printed with hand guides to practice throwing a soaring spiral and foot punt labels for field goal kick targets. These features help the trainees for easier retention of football basics.

This junior football is made of a durable anti-skid composite PVC cover, with a butyl bladder for outstanding air retention. The ESPN Future Pro Series is strategically designed with training elements to develop the football skills of any aspiring NFL athlete.


Instructional elements for training and practice

The best ball size for junior players

Reasonable price



Smooth texture, challenging to grip

  • 2

    NIKE Vapor Strike Pee Wee Football

The Nike Vapor football for the young players is covered with propriety leather providing you and your trainees with a superior and actual professional football feel. The leather exterior is textured with tack for better grip. The lace stitching is designed with high-grip to make sure that quarterbacks can have improved control to deliver perfect spiral throws even at a young age. Constructed with a TPU bladder for the interior, this ball maintains ample air for consistent use and performance.

The size and weight are perfect for ages 6 to 9 years old but it doesn’t limit any age to enjoy playing a game or two with this ball.


Leather football for kids

Great air retention

Great grip

  • 3

    Wilson Composite Leather Football

Historically, the official footballs for the NFL games have always been Wilson footballs. Getting a trusted reputation from the NFL has made this brand also recommended for high school football and college footballs as well. That’s why Wilson also made different sizes of footballs so that as early as 6 years old, eager young players can experience a high-quality product from Wilson.

The Wilson Composite is made of reliable leather for cover, and a pebbled Patented Accurate Control lacing which provides 174% increased grip in any conditions. The white grip stripes of the ball provide added finger point grips during throws causing an outstanding spiral. Just like the famous GST quality, only more affordable. This football comes in different sizes: pee wee, junior, youth, and official.


An affordable option for GST quality

Best grip

Best for a practice game


Easily loses air

  • 4

    Wave Runner Grip It Waterproof Football

The Wave Runner definitely made a different playing field for a football game. The Grip It football is a 9.25 inches ball that features Sure-Grip technology for excellent throwing and catching game wherever playing field you are. The double-lace patterns on this water football provide impressive aerodynamics, perfect for spiral throws. This football is durable, designed to endure indoor and outdoor play settings, suitable for beach, lake, pool, park, garage, and more.


Sure Grip Technology

Football with heavy-duty bladder built for durability

Perfect for spiral throws

Suitable for wet weather


Light built for leisure playing, not for football sport training

  • 5

    Wilson GST Leather Game Football Series

The Wilson GST Leather Game Football series is one of the best footballs, ranking at number 6 best seller product in Amazon football category. This ball is created with a modern design with a combination of the signature GST performance. Constructed with Wilson’s Light Leather formula, the football provides an incomparable feel for your fingers to secure control of the ball. It features a pebbled patented Accurate Control Lacing (ACL) for increased grip in all conditions with patented sewn-on stripes that are also made of composite material that contributes to better release for more accurate throws.

The Wilson GST balls are available in different sizes: Pee wee suitable for 6 to 9 years old, Junior size for ages 9 to 12, youth size appropriate for 12 to 14 years old, and the official size for ages 14 and above mostly used on high school football, college football, and by professional athletes. The National High School Athletic Association uses this ball.


The sewn-on stripes work well for gripping

Available in different sizes

Good for practice games


The football is hard and requires to be prepped to maximize performance

  • 6

    Rawlings NFL Downfield Youth Football

As the saying goes “Start them young”, the NFL Downfield Youth football from Rawlings is designed for young hardcore NFL fans who also enjoy passing and throwing footballs with their just developing hands. This ball features Rawlings’ patented HD grip design meaning it is 5 times more pebbles for easier grip in comparison with the standard rubber patterns. This ball may be smaller than the official size but this can be enjoyed by the adults wanting to throw a long pass.

This officially licensed NFL football product has a team option embellished on the ball. The team emblem is placed on one side, while the wordmark is on the opposite side which makes it a great gift to a young football fan. The material of this football is made of molded rubber. It is waterproof and weather resistant.


Patented HD grip

Perfect size for young players



The pebbled surface of the football is not great for autograph

  • 7

    XEDGE Composite Leather Indoor/Outdoor Footballs

The Xedge brand is a newcomer when it comes to football products manufacture. However, they have been producing balls made from high-quality materials using creative technology and professional designing for over 20 years. This football has a butyl bladder for enduring air retention and covered with high moisture absorption PU composite leather. To ensure excellent grip, this ball is double leather laced which helps in controlling spiral throws. The football is made of multi-layered lining for advanced strength and durability.

The Xedge football offers junior, youth, and official size balls for indoor and outdoor recreational activities, and practice.


Butyl bladder for air retention

Reasonable price

Available in 3 sizes option


Not recommended for league games

  • 8

    Wilson NFL Enforcer Football

Best footballs are used by pros in the official NFL game. The Wilson brand has been the only official NFL football used to score since 1941. The Wilson NFL Enforcer football is made of composite leather cover combined with raised pebbles for excellent grip and double laces for long-lasting. This ball is tough enough to take on the roughness of the game.

This football includes a pump for refilling air and a kicking tee. This ball is a junior size football that is intended for use by players age 9 years old and above.


Inexpensive NFL branded football


Easy to grip by young players for catch and throws

Great as a gift


The tee is not durable

  • 9

    Diggin Black Max Kids Foam Soft Football

For leisure plays of the family and friends with kids, the Diggin Black Max football is a soft foam football that is safe for young players engaged in catching and throwing footballs. Accidental body hits from this ball won’t hurt and they minimize giving bumps. Other small foam footballs are incorporated with hard plastic tips that can hurt.

The size and weight of this ball are ideal for beginners and young players. The hammered surface of the foam football makes sure that it’s easy to grip giving the kids an opportunity to throw an excellent spiral without breaking the ball. The patented spiral ring also helps with the rotational inertia of the ball for longer spiral throws. And because of its material, this ball can be enjoyed at any outdoor game such as backyard football, outdoor park games, and beach football.


Perfect for long spiral throws

Soft and safe for kids to use

The dimples enable easy grip

Suitable for wet weather


The foam material for footballs are not long-lasting

  • 10

    Rawlings Official NFL Air It Out Youth Size Gametime Football

If you’re a great fan of a particular NFL football team, the Rawlings Air It Out Game Time ball offer a team option embossed on their footballs. In a very revealing way, the team emblem is placed on one side while the team wordmark including the division below is located at the opposite side.

Despite its team option embossed design, this youth size football is playable. The ball is constructed with soft-touch, synthetic pebbled leather material for easier grip. It is weather-resistant and licensed by the NFL.


Great for display and usable for practice play

With team logo option

Well made with synthetic pebbled leather for easy grip

Reasonable price


9 inches football may be too small for some youth players

  • 11

    Franklin Sports Grip-Rite 1000 Synthetic Leather Football

With a size of 10.5 inches by 6 inches and a weight of 11 ounces, the Franklin Sports Grip Rite youth size football is perfect for junior players of ages 9 to 12 to practice and develop their throwing and catching skills. Season after season, this football is an ideal practice ball.

The young players can play rough with this football as it is made of high-quality synthetic leather that can endure usual football-playing conditions. The cover is designed with deep pebble surface material with hand-sewn pro-style laces to make sure extra traction and grip when throwing and catching this football. The ball cover is also made all-weather resistant, it does not wear when soaked in the rain or exposed to the sun.


Great as practice ball for young football players

Good grip

All-weather resistant, suitable for wet weather and dry season


Tends to become slippery when wet

  • 12

    Wilson NFL MVP Football

If you’re always up for a backyard football, the Wilson NFL MVP Football is the game to bring the competition to your young aspiring NFL players. Giving your trainees a feel of a composite football at a young age of 6 will accustom them to the experience and feel comfortable and confident for their future football official game.

The pee wee size of Wilson NFL MVP football is described as “tackified” for easy grip especially for the sub-teen players who are just yet to develop their throwing and catching skills with their little hands. The synthetic laces on the ball’s seams hold the cover well. Recommended for grass field playing for long-lasting use.


Great size for pee wee players

Reasonable price

Leather ball for beginners


Not recommended for concrete pavement playing

  • 13

    Nike Vapor One 2.0 Official Leather Football

Nike is a known brand for sports apparel. But the brand has also explored manufacturing sports balls. Nike’s leather ball for football has an engineered shape for firm spiral throws. The cover is made of tacky synthetic leather for better handling while the extruded lace system of the football offers an enhanced grip and feel.

This official game football size is made from 52% cow leather, 23% woven graphite, 13% thermoplastic polyurethane, and 12% thermoplastic elastomer. Though it’s not an official game ball for college football, it serves as one of the best footballs for drill practice.


Great college game ball for drill practice

Engineered shape for spiral throws

Good grip once prepped appropriately


Unstable air retention

  • 14

    Franklin Sports Official Size Football

Franklin Sports football has an extra-long bladder for air retention. This football has a deep pebble surface design for easy grip, constructed with precise stitches and double tuck synthetic laces. The built of the ball is tough that it can withstand everyday football situations of being dragged around on grass field and pavement.

Though an official size football, this can be enjoyed by players as young as 8 years old. This is an inexpensive ball but the best quality gift for football enthusiasts with a leisure pursuit of tossing balls around.



Value for money

Best for holding air

Best for family football


Made from synthetic material, not a traditional leather ball

  • 15

    Champion Sports Pro Comp Series Football

Balls from Champion Sports Pro may be still far from being an official NFL game ball but it shows great qualities to be one of the best footballs made from butyl. Available in various sizes, football players and enthusiasts alike can enjoy a fun and friendly game with this ball for a very affordable price. The football has an amazing grip and balanced weight. The laces are not too bulky to distract the handling.

This football is good to be used for all weather conditions and can withstand intense gameplay.


Good quality for an affordable price

Good grip

Available in 4 sizes

Can withstand any weather conditions


Weak air retention

How to Choose the Best Football

Leather footballs have often been used for official leagues such as the NFL, NCAA, and High School footballs. But not all leather footballs manufactured by different brands can withstand the tough playing situations and changing weather conditions. Therefore, leather footballs can’t always be labeled as the best. Also, considering game ball for recreational activities, it requires a different built and materials that leather footballs can’t achieve.


One important thing to keep in mind when buying a ball is your purpose for buying one. If you are an aspiring NFL player or engaged in a serious league game, without a doubt you would choose a ball with the right shape, size, and weight to accustom yourself with the feel in preparation for the game. Footballs for official use will obviously cost more so you may want to opt for the more affordable version with the same feel for drill practice. The same goes if you are training young players. As much as possible, you would give them the right gear and game balls for them to adapt and be confident to hold and throw the ball.

A game ball for recreational purposes does not necessarily require a specific size or even a perfect shape. What matters on these balls is their ability to increase the fun factor for the users, and their ability to last for a long time. But it’s also nice to have if they can have an aerodynamic feature that can mimic perfect spiral throws to provide the user with a sense of achievement and satisfaction.


A leather ball would be a great choice if it comes with a texture for an easy grip. Tacky material for the exterior cover of footballs is one of the things you should consider since the game requires the players to throw, catch, and hold on to the ball until you reach the goal. The ball should also be reinforced with pebbled lacing for more grip coverage. A butyl bladder on the interior helps with maintaining the air pressure inside a ball. If you can score a composite football with a secure grip for long-lasting use at a lesser price compared to the official balls used in the NFL, then you would be a true winner.

The backyard and beach footballs are not really into composite leather material. Since the nature of their game field may involve bodies of water and get wet, the materials used for these kinds of balls are usually foam backing or rubber because leather and water are not really that good together. Nevertheless, these unusual material footballs are also being textured with pebbles and dimples for easy gripping especially when wet. The more durable these footballs are, the more fun they will serve.


More than aesthetics, the design of white stripes on a composite football serves a purpose for the players, especially during a night game. This enables the player to see the ball better when receiving. Footballs used in the NFL used to have these white stripes on the ball. However, to prove that the players’ skills are worthy for the league, they have changed the design. The footballs for the NFL have a different length. It is longer and bigger around the middle for increased difficulty compared to college composite footballs.


Value for your money goes hand in hand with the purpose of your purchase. People have a tendency of buying an expensive ball for a purpose that the ball is not intended for. A classic example is footballs meant to be played in grass fields but ended up being played on paved streets getting beat up, out of shape, or broken. The setting is very different especially the ground texture. In these cases, you may not have made a great choice in buying that ball and you would feel that it was a waste of money. But, if you analyzed your purpose and browse the ball products, you will surely get your money’s worth.

The best football does not necessarily mean expensive. A great ball is a great buy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What ball is used in the NFL?

Wilson Sporting Goods have been supplying NFL footballs for official games. From 1941 to 1970 and since 2006 any ball used in the National Football League is stamped with “The Duke” in honor of Wellington Mara, the owner of the New York Giants for a long time, who is also named after the Duke of Wellington. Wilson The Duke returned made a comeback in 2006 in respect and memory of Mara after his death in 2005. Mara made it possible for Wilson to get the contract of manufacturing the footballs for the league.

How many balls are used in an NFL game?

In NFL, the home team is required to have 36 balls for outdoor game settings and 24 balls for indoor games. In precisely two hours and 15 minutes before the kickoff, both playing teams are to bring 24 footballs – 12 primary and 12 back up. These balls will be inspected by two-game officials. When approved each game ball and the backup ball will be stamped with a distinctive mark from the referee.

What are NFL balls made of?

The modern football that the NFL use is made with cowhide leather and rubber. The game ball has 4 panels, and the 250 stitches keeping the panels together are stitched by hand.

Also read: A Guide to 2021 Best American Football Pants


Football games are a true test of skills and endurance. Therefore, the gear and the ball that comes with it should demonstrate the same. Generally, the ball gets kicked, dragged, tossed, thrown, and received over and overall throughout the game. Only a tough ball would be able to withstand repetitive rough handling. Composite balls are great to be used for practice games and drills. Rubber and foam balls are suitable for non-competitive games to keep your kids safe from harm. There are also footballs applicable to wet conditions. Whatever game you are into, the ball will surely provide the fun. To maximize use and have long-lasting composite balls, there are ways to prepare them with simple steps before using. The preparation technique will increase the grip quality of the ball. Proper playing field and storage will also help to improve the lifespan of your ball.