Footballs Buyers Guide

How are footballs made?

Four panels of pebble-grained leather, eight white lacings, two white stripes. It seems so simple when you break it down, but footballs have been at the center of some of the most dramatic events in sports history. From the backyard to the Super Bowl, footballs are at the core of America's game and the simplest piece of football gear. But how are these simple, yet complex sports balls made? Watch the following video, to see how your favorite footballs are put together in the Wilson Football Factory, in Ada, Ohio:

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What are the differences between pure leather and composite leather footballs?
Leather Footballs:
  • The highest quality and grade of footballs you can purchase
  • Used in games and practice play
  • The only type of footballs allowed in NFL and NCAA play
  • Made with a tanning process, making them tacky and easy to grip, especially when wet
  • Some are water resistant, perfect for all weather conditions
  • Intended for grass or turf play
Composite Footballs:
  • Made from synthetic leather
  • Cost less than leather footballs, but are typically not as high quality
  • Great for recreational and practice use
  • Look and feel just like leather
  • Naturally resist moisture better than natural leather
  • Textured composite material is easy to grip
  • More durable than leather footballs
  • Tends to become slick when wet
  • Intended for grass or turf play
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What is an "official size" football?

An officially sized football means that the ball meets NCAA and/or NFL standards for football size and weight. Currently, the NCAA and NFL use the same standards. Their official adult footballs used in games must meet fall within the following ranges:

  • Short circumference: 20 3/4" - 21 1/4"
  • Longer circumference: 27 3/4" - 28 1/2"
  • Weight: 14oz - 15oz

Official footballs must also be made of four panels of pebble-grained leather, eight equally spaced lacings (typically made of leather as well) and two 1" white stripes, spaced 3 - 3 1/4" from the end of the ball.

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Which footballs are approved for use in youth football leagues?

The American Youth Football League has approved three Wilson footballs for use across the age groups in High School / youth football:

Youth size for ages 12 - 14: Wilson TDY Leather Game Youth Football

Junior size for ages 9 -12: Wilson TDJ Leather Game Youth Football

Pee Wee size for ages 6 - 9: Wilson K2 Pee Wee Leather Game Football

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