As the popularity of women's soccer continues to rise, questions often arise about the potential differences between women's and men's games.
One query that often comes up is this: Are the soccer balls used in women's games smaller than those used in men's?
Let's delve into the details to put this question to rest finally.
The Standard Soccer Ball Size
According to the international governing body for soccer, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the official regulations stipulate the same ball size for both men's and women's professional games. The standard size for a soccer ball is known as “Size 5.” This ball has a circumference of between 27 and 28 inches (68 to 70 cm) and weighs between 14 and 16 ounces (410-450 grams) when inflated to a pressure of 0.6 to 1.1 atmospheres at sea level.
It's important to note that these specifications are not gender-specific. The same standards apply to both men's and women's professional soccer leagues worldwide, including the Premier League, the National Women's Soccer League, UEFA Champions League, and the FIFA World Cup for both men and women.
Understanding Soccer Ball Sizes
There are smaller balls used in soccer, but they're designated for youth leagues, not divided by gender. Here's a brief overview:
- Size 4: This is the standard ball for youth leagues for players between 8 and 12 years of age. Its circumference is 25-26 inches (63.5-66 cm).
- Size 3: Even smaller, this ball is for young children, usually under 8 years old. It has a circumference of 23-24 inches (58.5-61 cm).
- Size 2 and Size 1: These are promotional sizes often used for skills training.
These variations in soccer ball sizes cater to different age groups, not different genders. It ensures that young players can handle, pass, and shoot the ball effectively and safely according to their physical development stage.
Origins of the Myth
So, how did the rumor that women's soccer balls are smaller than men's start? One possible explanation is that women's sports equipment can amount to smaller sizes. For instance, in basketball, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) uses a ball slightly smaller than that used in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
However, in professional soccer, women and men use the same ball size. As we've explained earlier, this myth might also originate from misunderstandings about youth league ball sizes.
Ultimately, the soccer balls used in women's professional matches are not smaller than those used in men's. Both games use a Size 5 ball, in line with FIFA's standard regulations.