All footballs are not made equally.
That is to say -- just because you're playing the game of football doesn't mean that you will be using the same ball.
Unlike a sport like baseball, where the size of the ball is always the same regardless of what level of the sport you're playing…
...there is a different size football that you should use depending on how old you are and what level of the game you're playing.
Kids sometimes have a tough time learning to throw, catch, and handle a football, and the most likely culprit of that challenge is a football that’s the wrong size for their age.
Luckily, this is very easy to fix.
All you have to do is follow the youth football sizes chart below, which explains the exact football you should use depending on your age and level.
6 - 9
9 - 12
12 - 14
14 - 15 Ounces
20.75 - 21.125 Inches
27.75 - 28.5 inches
Here are some more details about each of the youth football sizes:
Size 5 Football
The Size 5 football is designed for the youngest players in the game.
The Pee Wee size football is the smallest size so that a young child is able to both grip and throw the ball properly.
Not only is the size itself the smallest, but it's the lightest as well.
Size 6 Football
Once kids grow a little older and enter what is known as Junior Football, they are ready to move up to the next size of the ball.
Usually, this occurs around age 9.
This next step up will see a slightly bigger and heavier football.
Players should have already become comfortable with gripping, handling, and throwing the football at this stage.
Size 7 Football
Between age 12 and 14, kids will start growing rapidly.
While some will start their growth spurts at age 12 and others may not hit it until age 14, all of these players should be well-versed with the basics of holding, gripping, and throwing the football by now.
The Size 7 football is another step up in size and weight to keep up with the players' growth in size as well as their increased skills development.
Size 9 Football
By the time kids reach high school, they will have grown to a point that they are close to becoming a full adult.
The step up in weight and size is more dramatic here with this football, so as to match the growing players' body as well as skillset.
It is also meant to be as close to the size of footballs that are used in the college and professional games.
High school footballs are very close to college footballs, but then there is another slight step up in size at the NFL level.
Why Correct Youth Football Sizes Are Important:
The makeup of the actual football your team uses may not seem like a big deal, but it is.
Despite the jump from one football size to the next being relatively small -- from 10 ounces in a Size 5 to 11 ounces in a Size 6, for example -- those small spreads can make a huge difference.
Each level of football has an official governing body, and that organization is the one that sets the dimensions and weights for the footballs that will be used in their game.
Then, the companies that manufacture those footballs must adhere to those standards if they wish to produce balls for the league.
As Kevin Krysiak at Wilson -- which is the primary company that produces balls for the NCAA and NFL -- said:
"We have different football sizes because it would be very difficult for a 9- or 10-year-old kid to throw an NFL ball. The different sizes were created to be appropriate for athletes at each level."
Here are some of the main reasons why having the correct youth football sizes for the age group is essential:
1. It Makes the Game Playable
As Krysiak said, having a ball that is too big for kids to handle would ultimately make the game unplayable.
If a 6-year-old quarterback can't even handle the ball well enough to make a play, then it'll be extremely difficult to teach them how to play the game.
Let's again use a comparison to baseball…
As players get older and therefore stronger, they increase the size and weight of the bat they use.
This follows the same basic concept of increasing the size of the football.
If a hitter couldn't even swing a bat because it was too heavy, for example, then the game wouldn't really even be playable.
2. It Allows Kids to Grow Into the Equipment
The most important aspect of youth football is teaching the game and getting kids interested in playing and learning the basics.
If something as simple as holding, carrying, and gripping the football becomes difficult, then it'll be very hard for coaches to make the game seem fun.
Making sure that you are using a football that is age-appropriate is important to keeping the interest among your players.
When kids do well at something, they are more likely to have fun, which in turn will make them want to keep coming back for more.
3. It Allows Kids to Learn in Stages
While throwing passes isn't something that a lot of very young football players will do, having a football that's the appropriate size will still allow them to learn the game at the stages they should be.
That's because playing football isn't about just throwing and catching.
If the ball is too large, it will be very difficult for a center to snap it, for a quarterback to accept the snap, for that quarterback to run with the football and/or hand it off to a running back, and then for that running back to run with the ball as well.
The whole idea of teaching sports to youth is to do it in stages that are appropriate for their age group.
The first thing that comes to mind for most people when you say this is keeping the playbook simple.
But perhaps the most important way coaches and parents can do this is to ensure that they are using the correct youth football sizes for the kids they are coaching.
Football starts with the fundamentals, as they say, and the fundamental way of teaching the game is to ensure you are using the size of football that coincides with the age group you're teaching.