The 7 Best Junior Footballs
7. NFL Gridiron
- molded composition
- stylish coloring
- better for display than play
|Brand||Jarden Sports Licensing|
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
6. Passback Sports Composite
- sized for players 13 and under
- must-have for sharpening technique
- not appropriate for games
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
5. MacGregor Multicolor
- durable nylon windings
- raised laces for good grip
- will not stand up to heavy use
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
4. Under Armour 395
- gripskin technology adds tackiness
- foam backing for soft feel
- available in three sizes
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
3. Franklin Sports Grip-Rite
- ideal for ages 9 to 11
- tacky pebbled surface
- competitively priced
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
2. Wilson NCAA Supreme
- made of durable composite leather
- recommended for ages 9 and up
- looks like an official nfl model
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
1. Nike Spiral Tech 3.0
- white college stripes
- consistent and even flight
- comes from a desirable brand
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
A Brief History Of Football
The dawn of football came in 1869, when Princeton met Rutgers in the first intercollegiate match. The game looked a little different then, given that you could only advance the ball by kicking it and there were 25 players to a side, but the important thing was that the players were allowed to decimate one another. A national pastime — or possibly a religion — was born.
The game would grow in popularity among northeastern schools, eventually leading to a conference in 1875 to codify the rules. However, the resulting changes made by the attendees weren't enough to satisfy a young Yale student named Walter Camp, who was discouraged by the chaotic nature of the nascent sport.
Camp suggested limiting the number of players to 11 per side, as well as establishing a line of scrimmage. His next big idea was to dictate how many attempts you had to advance the ball a certain length of the field. This implementation of down-and-distance became perhaps the most important innovation in American football, narrowly edging out the beer helmet.
Camp's final major contribution was the concept of blocking. This made the game extremely physical — and extremely exciting. As a result, it quickly caught on in the college ranks, spreading across the country by the turn of the century.
There was only one problem: players kept dying. This became such an issue that even President Theodore Roosevelt was forced to weigh in and demand that changes be made.
This led to the creation of the forward pass, which was designed as a way to advance the ball without having to run through someone. Helmets were also soon made mandatory, as were pads designed to make the game safer.
College stars like Jim Thorpe and Red Grange became household names, and used their fame to bolster the credibility of the newly-formed National Football League. However, the NFL would remain considerably less popular than the college game until 1958, when the league's championship game — "the greatest game ever played" — would captivate the entire nation.
Since then, professional football has become arguably the most popular sport in America, with the college version not far behind. The game is still changing — and still criticized for its violence — but it's now hard to imagine an America without football.
Unless, of course, you're a Browns fan. Then it's very easy to imagine.
How To Pick The Right Junior Football
If you want to get your child as hooked by the game as you are, buying them their own football is a good start. Of course, regulation balls are usually too big for young hands, so getting them one that's the right size is a must.
The best way to do this, of course, is to let them handle as many options as possible. Various sizes and materials will have different feels, and the only way to know what they prefer is to ask them. After all, if they don't enjoy throwing it, they're not going to want to play.
If your child is still a little young (or maybe not so coordinated), then finding a softer model should be a priority. You don't want them terrified of getting hit with the thing, so something that can bounce harmlessly off of them will be a good idea. Also, the softer it is, the less likely it will be to jam their little fingers, which is a sure-fire way to end a game of catch prematurely.
Make sure that it can stand up to some abuse, as well. Most younger players aren't very sure-handed, so expect the ball to hit the ground often. You don't want something that will begin to leak or unravel just because it took a few bounces on the concrete.
Ultimately, though, the most important thing is to pick one that they'll actually enjoy throwing. You want them to be comfortable with the ball in their hands — because then they'll never see you coming when you're blitzing off the edge.
The Proper Way To Throw A Football
There are few things more captivating than a football thrown in a tight, accurate spiral — and few things more humiliating than tossing up a wobbly lame duck. Luckily, with these tips, you can show your kid how to be the star of your next Thanksgiving flag football game.
Start by gripping the ball near the back end, with your fingers on the last two or three laces. Many balls have raised laces that allow you to get a better grip, and you'll also need to keep a little air between your palm and the leather.
Next, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, perpendicular to your target. Your knees should be slightly bent, with most of your weight on your back foot.
Once you're ready to chuck it, raise the ball to your ear level. Then, powerfully rotate your hips to open up your body towards your receiver, ending with your front foot pivoted forward and your shoulders square. By the end of the throwing motion, all of your weight should be on your front foot.
Use your non-throwing arm to add torque to this motion, spinning it down and away from the ball. This should bring your throwing hand forward. Use that momentum to propel the ball — most of the effort should come from your hips and torso, not your shoulder.
When you release the ball, spin it with your fingers and end with your thumb pointing down. This is a little counter-intuitive — but it's also how you create a spiral. Follow through with your release until your throwing hand is down near the opposite hip. If done correctly, you should see a tight, perfect spiral.