The 10 Best Footballs

Updated June 01, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Few things in life are more enjoyable than lofting a perfect spiral through the air. Whether you play competitively under lights or just for fun down the street, one of these footballs will be the right match for your needs. We've included many options worth looking at, from smaller choices suited for younger kids, to pro-sized pigskins ideal for high-level games and practice. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best football on Amazon.

10. Tealco Tough Light-up

Why let the sunset stop the football fun? The Tealco Tough Light-up has bright LEDs built-in, which glow neon-orange and make it easier to catch at night. Luckily, the on/off button is recessed, so you won't accidentally turn it off when throwing it in the dark.
  • includes spare batteries
  • full size and standard weight
  • leds dim after a few hours of use
Brand TealCo
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Wilson NFL Pro Replica

The Wilson NFL Pro Replica is the exact same size and weight as the real thing. If you are hoping to train for a pro spot one day, this is a lot like what you'll eventually use. The composite material feels quite similar to genuine cowhide and stays durable for years.
  • doesn't feel squishy or soft
  • deep pebbles and firm texture
  • not appropriate for young players
Brand Wilson
Model WTF1825XB
Weight 14.1 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Under Armour 395

Because of its light weight, the Under Armour 395 is effortless to throw, fitting for young teens who have recently caught the footballing bug. Even when fully pumped, it retains its softness, so catching it when thrown from far away won't hurt your hands.
  • foam backing for comfortable grip
  • great for increasing confidence
  • only lasts for a season or two
Brand Under Armour
Model FB 397-PARENT
Weight pending
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Franklin Sports Grip-Rite

Once your future halfback graduates from the foam variety, the Franklin Sports Grip-Rite is an excellent choice for the next step in training. It's painted in bright colors for high visibility, and it's waterproof, so the fun can continue at the beach or by the pool.
  • precision-stitched construction
  • double-tucked synthetic laces
  • comes pre-inflated and ready to play
Brand Franklin
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Passback Full-Size

If you want to improve your throwing and catching with some solo practice, then the ingenious Passback Full-Size will be your best friend. Its distinctive design means that if you throw a tight spiral against any hard surface, it will come spiraling back to you.
  • improves hand-eye coordination
  • great for qb and receiver training
  • not intended for game use
Brand Passback Football
Model 10014
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Wilson Official NFL

The Wilson Official NFL is the same thing you see Aaron Rodgers throwing on your TV screen every Sunday night. Each ball is hand-inspected to meet the exact specifications as used in the league, and features the high-quality pebble grip that pros expect.
  • made from premium hand-picked hides
  • worth buffing and breaking in
  • a bit unwieldy for casual players
Brand Wilson
Model WTF1100
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Wilson GST

The Wilson GST is made of processed leather stretched over a multi-layered lining, which gives it a longer lifespan than traditional options, while retaining a soft exterior feel. Inside, it sports a butyl-rubber bladder for long-lasting air retention.
  • consistent and symmetrical laces
  • collegiate size and weight
  • one of the best composite choices
Brand Wilson
Model WTF1780
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Spalding Never Flat

The Spalding Never Flat uses a durable membrane combined with proprietary technology to eliminate air seepage. It maintains its pressure and stays ready for play, even after sitting in the garage all summer long, making it perfect for spontaneous pickup games.
  • soft-tack composite cover
  • rubber lacing for exceptional grip
  • guaranteed to stay inflated for 1 yr
Brand Spalding
Model 62-962F
Weight pending
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Wilson TDS

The Wilson TDS should be on every parent's list at some point, because it's crucial to select the right equipment for young players. This happens to be the exact same one your son or daughter will use once they reach high school.
  • nfhs-approved in all 50 states
  • perfect for adolescent quarterbacks
  • ideal for learning the game
Brand Wilson
Model WTF1715
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Wilson NCAA

If you want to go pro, you have to go to college first, and the Wilson NCAA is the tool you'll be working with while training to rule the gridiron. As one of the finest options on the market, it requires a little TLC before it's tacky and game-ready.
  • made from genuine leather
  • stickier-than-average grip stripes
  • worth the relatively high cost
Brand Wilson
Model 20109
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Football

Americans have a long history of taking a tradition from England and changing it into something slightly different, then loudly proclaiming our new version to be vastly superior. So it is with American football.

The sport's origins trace back across the pond to rugby and something known as "mob football." In both sports, a large scrum of large men attempted to move a ball from point A to point B while another scrum of large men attempted to stop them.

As you might expect with any game in which there is a high likelihood of someone getting mangled, these sports were quite popular on American college campuses. Students at universities like Yale and Princeton participated in these games quite frequently.

This burgeoning game had just one minor problem (well, two, if you count all the students getting mangled): each university had its own version, and the games could differ wildly from campus to campus.

The first steps towards unifying the sport came in 1869, when Rutgers played Princeton in a match of "roundball." The Rutgers team captain suggested rules that were accepted by both sides, and thus the first college football game was played. Of course, this one involved 25 men per side, each desperately trying to kick the ball into the other team's goal, but close enough.

Four years later, representatives from multiple northeastern schools (except — you guessed it — Harvard) met in New York to discuss further codifying the rulebook. Harvard continued to play by its own regulations until it faced a team from Montreal's McGill University, at which point its players discovered they quite liked this new brand of American football that was brought to them by a team from Canada.

It was a Yalie who would truly revolutionize the fledgling sport, however. Walter Camp proposed multiple changes, including limiting teams to 11 players per side, establishing a set line of scrimmage, and creating the down system.

College football caught on like wildfire, with schools all across the United States fielding teams. The first professional contest, meanwhile, would be staged in 1892, and the NFL would be founded seven years later.

For the following few decades, the popularity of the college game would dwarf that of the pros. In fact, it would take a few college stars to save the floundering NFL, as big names like Red Grange, Jim Thorpe, and Bronko Nagurski took their talents to the big leagues and brought legions of fans with them.

From there, football continued its rise in prominence, eventually overtaking baseball as the most popular pastime in America. The rules have changed quite a bit along the way (and continue to do so), but one thing will always remain true: my team is way better than yours.

Backyard Football Tips

If you just want to throw the ball around while you wait for Thanksgiving dinner to be ready, there's no need to overthink it. The important thing is to have fun with your family and friends.

If you're a true red-blooded American, however, the urge to humiliate those same family and friends in a cutthroat game of backyard football runs deep in your bones. We have some tips that will help you dominate your next competition, as your opponents will be completely unable to match your level of preparation, due to the fact that they have jobs and families.

Like any successful football team, you need to have a playbook with a few tried-and-true beauties. End-arounds are a smart choice, as are flea-flickers — just avoid getting too cute with a Statue of Liberty or the dreaded Annexation of Puerto Rico.

Trash talk is also your friend here (and maybe the only friend you'll have after the game's over, depending on how far you take it). Don't let anyone off the hook. Did Grandma burn the beans? Remind her of it — and then burn her on a deep route.

Also, if you really want to take things to the extreme, consider getting into reasonably sound cardiovascular shape beforehand. It's sure to give you a leg up on the competition.

Of course, if you're less concerned with winning and more concerned with spending time with loved ones, you can do things like investing in a flag football set so that there's less risk of someone getting tackled, making sure teams are evenly matched, and keeping your competitive fire in check.

But just remember: the real winner is whoever gets derogatory t-shirts made after the fact.

Staying Safe While You Play

While playing two-hand touch in the backyard isn't as hazardous to your health as the full-contact variety (at least until you criticize Grandma's beans, that is), you can still get hurt. To avoid being the reason your family has to eat their turkey in the ER, below are some tips for preventing injury.

As mentioned above, try to be in good shape beforehand. If that's not possible, don't push yourself past your comfort level. After all, no touchdown is worth a massive heart attack.

Be sure to stretch and warm up properly before hitting the field, as pulled muscles are a great way to cut a fun weekend short. Stretch after you're done, as well, and drink plenty of water so that your muscles stay hydrated.

The right equipment is also important. You don't need any specialized gear, but make sure you're wearing sensible athletic shoes, and don't try to play wide receiver in jeans and a button-down shirt. Oh, and hopefully it goes without saying, but wear sunscreen. Yes, even if it's overcast outside.

Unfortunately, there's no way to guarantee that you won't get hurt, but if you take a few simple precautions beforehand, you can increase your chances of surviving the game.

After all, if you're going to hurt yourself at Thanksgiving, it should be from overeating, not football.

Statistics and Editorial Log

Paid Placements

Recent Update Frequency

help support our research

patreon logoezvid wiki logo small

Last updated on June 01, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For our full ranking methodology, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.