What is the difference between a training ball and a match ball? Is a common question in the footballing world that may initially appear obvious but can actually prove rather difficult to determine.

The two most immediate differences are the individual ball’s purpose – one is used for training sessions while the other is used for matches – and their price. It’s clear that match balls cost substantially more than training balls do which is decidedly due to the increased quality.

But to truly understand the differences between the two types of footballs and why each ball is suitable for different purposes, deeper exploration into the specifications for both types of football is required.

Training Footballs

These footballs are usually built to a medium or high quality, using long-wear materials in their construction which accommodates heavy use over multiple months/years. Their machine-stitched design and external PU cover often contains a thinner layer of foam which makes the ball harder to the touch and perfect for a variety of drills and combinations.

There are two different types of bladder that a football can possess – a butyl bladder and a latex bladder. Training footballs feature a butyl bladder which is the firmer of the two but boasts a much greater ball retention for the expected longevity training footballs are designed for. Its PU cover thickness and bladder type also give the ball a different, less perfect feel when it comes to controlling or playing a pass or taking a shot.

Training balls are designed for use on a variety of different surfaces and weather conditions including wet & dry grass, astro, snow, grit, tarmac, cement and indoor. This accounts for a number of the compromises made in terms of a training ball’s performance which are actually intentionally implemented to better suit the football for its specific purpose.

Here are three examples of training footballs with their specifications listed for a better understanding of a training ball’s design:

Mitre Impel Training Football 

  • Great for intense sessions whatever the weather
  • Soft foam lining ensures superb first touch and cushioned impact
  • Engineered to hold its shape and size for consistency game after game
  • Reinforced rubber bladder ensures outstanding air retention

Our Mitre Impel Training Footballs can be found here.

Nike Pitch Team Training Football 

  • Features TPU casing which helps the ball to glide across multiple different surfaces without compromised performance
  • A reinforced rubber bladder for greater air and shape retention
  • Offers continued durability and shape retention making it an ideal choice for training sessions over time
  • The pentagon-shaped 12-panel construction casing provides improved flight, greater control and overall performance

Our Nike Pitch Team Training Footballs can be found here.

adidas Team Glider Training Football

  • Entry price machine-stitched construction
  • TPU is laminated onto a foam layer which is then stitched with a specified stitch number per panel to enhance the homogeneity of the ball
  • The winded carcass provides shape retention
  • Butyl bladder great for air retention

Our adidas Team Glider Training Footballs can be found here.

Match Footballs

Match footballs have a unique construction which is high in quality and uses materials and techniques that are geared towards high performance but are not necessarily long-lasting. The footballs are usually hand stitched and feature a thicker layer of foam under the PU cover for added protection. Combined with a softer bladder type, match balls have an excellent touch when it comes to passing, shooting and receiving, giving a player ultimate control over every touch of the ball. It also boasts the best possible flight when struck allowing the football to bend, dip or rise through the air when struck correctly.

However, match balls aren’t built for the same type of high-use that training balls are. Instead, they are specifically designed for grass conditions rather than the multi-surface/multi-purpose build that training balls apply. This is displayed more prominently through their use of a latex bladder which is softer but requires more frequent inflation as its air retention capabilities are significantly lesser than that of a training football.

But the overall quality of the football is much greater. Matchday conditions demand a football that can withstand different weather conditions and intense use under a shorter period of time. That is typically why match footballs are priced more expensively than training footballs are.

Here are three examples of match footballs from the same three brands which can be compared to the previous training ball examples:

Mitre Delta Match Hyperseam Match Football 

  • Delivers the benefits of both a bonded and a stitched ball with its improved speed, accuracy and power
  • 12-panel design with foam backing is designed to allow zero water intake which helps deliver continued ball consistency and maintains exceptional performance

Our Mitre Delta Match Hyperseam Match Footballs can be found here.

Nike Premier Team FIFA Match Football 

  • Ultra-strong interior construction for shape retention
  • Geo Balanced Technology allows for truer and more accurate flight
  • Hand-stitched panels ensures quality

Our Nike Premier Team FIFA Match Footballs can be found here.

adidas Tango Rosario Match Football 

  • Hand-stitched for durability and a true touch
  • Injection-moulded latex bladder and a polyurethane surface ensure top-level performance

Our adidas Tango Rosario Match Footballs can be found here.

Below, we have provided a table compiled of six different footballs – three training footballs and three match footballs – along with seven of the most common features found within footballs.

This chart examines which of those qualities are shared between the different balls and across the construction of both training and match footballs:

Match Ball vs Training Ball

Training Footballs Match Footballs
Butyl Bladder
Latex Bladder
TPU Casing
Textured Casing
Soft-Touch Foam Underlayer
Thick Foam Underlayer
Suitable For Grass & Astro
Long-Wear Materials
High-Performance Materials
Machine Stitched
Hand Stitched

*Data based on 20 randomly selected footballs – 10 training balls and 10 match balls – sold at discountfootballkits.com

For our full range of training footballs, click here.

And for our full range of match footballs, click here.

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