Football fans come in all sizes and ages. And playing catch in the backyard or at the tailgate party is something all of us do. But not everyone is a full-grown adult, so those younger players need a football which caters to their smaller size.
You can’t expect a preteen to be able to hold, throw, or catch a regulation size football. Their hands just aren’t big enough. Youth leagues use smaller footballs depending on age. For instance, the pee wee sized ball is for ages roughly 6 to 9, while the junior size is for players aged 9 to about 14. Many of the major companies — Wilson, Under Armour, and Rawlings, to name a few — make their footballs the same across the board. Whether you’re getting an official size, junior, youth, or pee wee, most footballs have the same characteristics, including extra tack for superior grip and all-weather covers. Most of the footballs on the list below have those features.
Check out the list below to see some of the most popular youth footballs available for the 2017 season.
1. Wilson NFL MVP Football
If you’re going to go for a quality youth football, you can’t do much better than the Wilson NFL MVP Football. Wilson has been the official football sponsor of the NFL since 1941. The synthetic ball, available in junior, pee wee, and official sizes, is covered with a tacky material for extra grip on every throw and catch. That extra tack on the ball will certainly help build confidence as it is designed to make holding onto the ball, especially in tougher weather conditions. The Wilson MVP ball can also be purchased in bulk in 2-, 3-, and 4-packs.
Price: Junior and Pee Wee single football for $14.99; also available in 2-, 3-, and 4-packs (price increases with each additional)
2. Under Armour 395 Football
The 395 Football from Under Armour is highlighted by Gripskin Technology, which is designed to help maximize grip whether you’re throwing or catching the ball. The extra tack and SpongeTech cover will help children of all ages have an easier time holding onto the ball, regardless of the weather conditions. Fitted with a composite cover, it’s also extra soft thanks to the 1-ply foam backing. The UA 395 Football is available in 4 sizes — youth, pee wee, junior, and official.
3. Under Armour 495 Football
We just discussed the 395 Football, and the Under Armour 495 is a newer model which is actually the official ball of Pop Warner leagues. It has many of the same features of the 395, including the GripSkin Technology with added tack and the all-weather composite cover, but has a couple improvements. First, the 495 has a 2-ply foam backing for an even softer feel. And the GrabTack lace runs a bit longer so you can get a better grip on every throw even in inclement weather. The UA 495 Football comes in sizes youth, pee wee, junior, and official.
Price: Starting at $18.79 (37 percent off MSRP); price varies depending on size and availability
4. Rawlings NCAA Gridiron Junior Size Football
The NCAA Gridiron Football from Rawlings is perfect for the younger college football fan. Available in a junior size, the ball is available in dozens of major college teams (Alabama Crimson Tide is shown above). The ball itself is perfect for the tailgate, for a game in the backyard, and even to toss around at the beach. It’s made of molded rubber and comes decorated in team colors with the school name and logo.
5. Wilson NCAA Supreme Junior Football with Pump & Tee
Not only do you get a high-quality junior football with the NCAA Supreme from Wilson, but it also comes with an air pump and a plastic kicking tee. Now when you’re done playing catch, you can work on your kicks. The ball itself is made of composite leather to ensure premium grip and control. The cover is soft, yet durable, and will last you through plenty of football seasons. As a junior size, the ball is recommended for players 9 years and up.
Price: $37.77 plus $12.29 shipping
6. Rawlings NFL Gridiron Junior-Size Youth Football
Just above we talked about the NCAA Gridiron Football from Rawlings, now here’s the NFL version. NFL season is in full swing and there’s no better time to start teaching the kids about the game. The NFL Gridiron ball is available in junior size, so it’s perfect for the younger ones, whether they’re just learning how to throw and catch or if they’ve already began playing. The ball features a team colored molded rubber outer and is highlighted by your favorite squad’s name and logo. It is available in most NFL teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers is shown above.
7. Franklin Sports Grip-Rite Football (Junior Size)
If you’re looking for a good beginner football for a bargain price, the Grip-Rite from Franklin Sports is just that. Priced at under $10, the Grip-Rite features a waterproof rubber surface making it ideal for all-weather play. The Grip-Rite cover and pro lacing ensure you’ll be able to throw every pass and make each catch with confidence no matter what the weather conditions. It is available in junior size, so it’s probably best suitable for those aged 9 and over.
Price: $9.94 (17 percent off MSRP)
8. Wilson NFL MVP Junior Football with Pump and Tee
The Wilson NFL MVP Junior Football combo is perfect for the all-purpose player. In addition to the football, you’ll also receive a kicking tee, air pump, and an inflation needle. The football has a soft rubber cover, which is also waterproof, so you can expect a good grip when both throwing and catching in the rain. It comes at a bargain price (currently well under $10) and is durably built to with withstand play on all surfaces.
9. PlayCoach Youth Football
The PlayCoach Youth Football isn’t your typical toss-and-catch type of ball. It’s actually a training football endorsed by Saints star quarterback Drew Brees. It’s got a tackified cover for superior grip to ensure you have control on every pass and a handle on every reception. A very cool feature is that it has the “route tree” — the basic 9 pass routes run by the receivers — designed onto the ball itself. This will teach both quarterbacks and receivers to understand pass patterns more efficiently and effectively. The PlayCoach Football comes in youth size, so it’s ideal for younger players.
Price: $29.95 plus $4.82 shipping
10. Wilson NFL Super Grip Football
The Wilson Super Grip Football is designed to do just that — give you maximum hold and control. Whether you’re throwing or receiving, the odds of you making the big play are increased with the Super Grip ball, which will certainly boost the confidence of any player. The synthetic cover contains a tackified PVC material for enhanced grip during all weather conditions. Underneath the cover, a multi-layered lining will keep the shape of the ball for prolonged durability. It comes in a junior size, so it’s most suitable for players over 9 years old.
Price: $13.47 (25 percent off MSRP)