Tag Archives: Reviews

What’s a Good Size 4 Ball?

31 Mar

One of the aspects I like about soccer is that is a very gear-limited game.

A ball and a space to play is all that is needed to play. As you advance, a pair of shoes becomes more important – but it’s still about the player and not the gear.

At our club and in our state association, U8 age group and below use a Size 3 ball. In U10 and U12, the Size 4 is used.

As Aidan will move to the Four with certainty for the fall season, and Evan will move to the Four if or when he starts our club’s Pre-Academy program, I’m in the market for two quality Size 4 balls.

In just a few years of play, we have had several balls pass through our house already. There’s a lot of variety of play in balls under $20. Some have slick covers that don’t have a good touch. some have a lot of neoprene or other padding under the top cover of the ball. Some have virtually none. Most noticeable when playing, some perform like a beach ball while some are feel more like a rock.

With both of the kids dedicating more time to playing, I want to stay on the right foot with a ball that plays as “true” as possible.

The options I’m considering:

Select Numero 10 ($24.99): I’ve seen a few Select balls around at our practices and pickup games I’ve attended. You can’t find them at the Big Box Sporting Goods Stores and you don’t see them on the professional pitch (except in Denmark and some parts of Latin America). But the balls I’ve used have a nice solid feel to them and the right weight.  Of course, they have a number of different balls all under the “Numero 10” banner – at different price points.  Are they materially different?

Select Royale ($39.99): This is Select’s first “Step up” ball from the Number 10.  Looks like it has a lot of the same characteristics of the Number 10.

Nike Premier Ball ($39.99): This is Nike’s upgrade ball versus the $16-20 ball you see in Sports Speciality retailers. I’ve seen the size 5 version of this class of ball with some high school teams.

Nike Club Team Ball ($29.99): One step down from the Premier.  Looks like it has normal panel shapes instead of the rounded ones on the Premier.

Adidas FIFA 2012 NFHS Club Ball: I don’t know anything about this ball, but it seems to be based on their

What are your favorite balls for practice and match use in size 4? What characteristics do you look for when buying a ball?

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Product Review: Nike Rio II Soccer Jersey

30 Mar

I’ve worn moisture management fabric shirts while exercising for more than ten years.  Before that – it was the cotton tee shirt.  But once I discovered moisture management fabrics, I became a fan of Nike’s Dri-Fit and Russell’s DriPower clothing.

However, I’ve noticed prices have gone up as these items have become more popular – but the shirts haven’t been adding any additional features or becoming significantly better performers as far as I could tell.

Through several retailers, I became aware of Nike’s Rio II Soccer Jersey (and many other styles of shirt as well.)  Without a club badge and number, the Rio shirt looks like any other exercise apparel – available in four youth and five adult sizes and ten different colors.  But it’s added functional feature: it has a back made completely of mesh for airflow.  The white front insert panel is made of the same type of mesh.  The back is very effective at keeping you cool while exercising.

The fit on the shirt is great if you fall into the athletic cut.  I have a problem buying most athletic retail styles – they either are too short through the body or too large through the chest, shoulders, sleeves and torso (this applies to a lot of other clothing as well.)  In the case of the Rio, I can comfortably wear a size Small and it provides plenty of length but a fitted appearance.

There’s also a long sleeve version with the same construction.

I recommend the shirt if you are in the size range that retail styles don’t fit well, and if you are looking for added features in your sports apparel.

One Year Review: Nike T90 Laser III

2 Feb

My Nike T90 Laser III cleats hold a distinction for me: they were the first pair of cleats that I purposefully picked out as an adult.

I had bought a pair of Adidas cleats one year earlier, but had done so largely on the basis of price.  At that time, I was starting in soccer and wanted a pair of cleats but didn’t want to spend a lot of money in case I didn’t stick in the sport.

So when I was ready to replace the Adidas shoes, I did some searching and settled on the Nike T90 Strike III in leather.

Performance Features

When Nike rolled out the T90 Laser III, one of the distinguishing characteristics of it was the shot pods and swerve fins on the instep of the shoe, along with the asymmetric lacing pattern.  I figured at the time, that any technology or placement that would allow a larger ball striking surface would be to my advantage as a still-novice player.

Fit

Most of my prior shoes to this point, with the exception of my then still-recent Nike Free Run+ were size 11.  I stayed with Size 11 in this purchase and was satisfied with the fit.  No pinch points on my normal width points.

Touch

My prior Adidas cleats were TPU uppers, so I felt like the touch in the leather T90’s was improved versus my prior shoe.  The contact surfaces seem to work well – providing some settling of the ball’s rotation when receiving a pass for example.

Style

I really liked the colorway I purchased – Black and Yellow with Silver accent.  It’s distinctive without being over the top.  I added Nike’s RED laces
to the package.

Durability

The shoes have last well through weekly play over the last year, along with some training and working in the yard.  The leather where the other meets the sole plate is losing its smooth texture now.

The cleats still have plenty of life left on them.

Traction

My boots are Firm Ground version – with the molded blastic “Blade” style cleats.  The layout of the blades is very similar to most other boots.  I haven’t had any traction problems with the shoes.

What’s Next

I’m going to keep playing in this boot for now – although the new Adidas Adipure 11Pro  holds a lot of appeal for me.  I think in the future I’m moving towards a lighter weight, more “touch” or “Control” oriented shoe.

Adidas Formotion Elite Socks Review

3 Jan

Among the gifts from my kids this year was a new pair of Adidas Formotion Elite Socks in Royal Blue.

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I’ve been wearing the same pair of Nike Dri-fit socks for two years now, and they have been thinning in some areas of my feet. I had been looking for a while for socks but hadn’t found anything at the big box stores that fit my requirements of thin, moisture wicking and tight.

I like thin socks – both for running and soccer. I’ve found thinner normally means that they are less likely to rub and blister inside the shoe. With soccer socks, thin also helps with temperature control – as spring and summer matches in Georgia see temperatures above ninety degrees.

The Formotion socks have a thin upper but a cushioned footbed. During pick up today, I didn’t experience any rubbing. The cushioning on the footbed seemed to help with some hot spots I’ve hard on the balls of my feet for a while.

I did notice the tops of the socks didn’t stay up as well as my Nike socks did. I pulled them up a couple of times in the course of the match.

The leg part of the sock breathed reasonably well, but I might look for something lighter for the late spring.  Sizing ran true to size for my size 11 feet.