If there is a football-obsessed boy in your household, chances are that it’s all you hear about. When it comes to buying them a gift for Christmas, their birthday, or any other holiday, football-related items are probably at the top of the list. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t take long to start running out of new gift ideas after a few special occasions. That’s why we put together the following lists of our favorite football gifts for boys in the following age group. Keep reading to find the perfect unique gift for the football fan on your list.
- What to Look for in a Football Gift
- Best for Boys 3-6 Years Old 2021
- Best for Boys 7-9 Years Old 2021
- Best for Boys 10-12 Years Old 2021
- Best for Boys 12-14 Years Old 2021
- Best for Boys 14+ 2021
- For the Love of the Game
What to Look for in a Football Gift
If you’re buying a football-related gift for a boy in your life. It’s important to first consider their level of ability and interest in football. There is a large difference between a boy who enjoys playing recreationally with their friends and one who plays organized, competitive football. Buying a serious training tool for a recreational player is a waste, and buying a toy for a competitive player can be insulting. If you’re not sure, you can never go wrong by simply buying them a brand-new football appropriate for their age.
Because football skills are so age-dependent, we separated our list into the following categories:
Well before they can join organized football leagues, boys can begin working on the basic skills they will need to play football as they get older. Footballs used for this age group are usually very soft for good reason as the coordination needed to consistently catch the football is still years away!
During these ages, some boys begin playing competitive football. Games are conducted using peewee-sized balls. It is during these years where boys first develop the coordination and planning needed to begin executing plays.
This is the most common age group during which boys begin taking a serious interest in football. Around this age is when many also begin to become fans of pro sports. Competitive games played at this level use a junior-sized ball. ball.
Boys at this age usually see their physical abilities rapidly expand during this period. Able to run faster and throw further than at any point in their football careers so far, boys in this age group are often looking for serious training tools to help take their game to the next level. Organized games at this age level are played using a youth-sized ball.
The final age group covered in our list, boys who are older than 14, are often preparing to play football in high school and beyond, so they will be much more likely to have training and conditioning aids like a GHB Pro Agility Ladder on their list. From this point forward, all games are played using an official-sized ball, just like the pros.
Best for Boys 3-6 Years Old 2021
The unique feel of a Nerf football allows for great grip and aerodynamics but is also cushioned enough to not hurt fingers (or faces!) too much when things don’t work out according to plan. The Nerf N-Sports Turbo Jr. Football is a classic black and orange design that looks great when spiraling through the air. Even though it is soft enough for kids as young as three years old, it’s more than fun enough for older kids and even adults to want to get in the action. It’s more expensive than most other foam football options, but superior performance still makes it well worth the price.
Especially for kids who are naturally afraid of the ball, the Nerf N-Sports Turbo Jr. Football is a great way to help build confidence in catching ability without young athletes having to worry about getting hit with a harder ball. This will allow them to begin practicing proper form on their catches by learning to pull the ball into their body after catching it.
By the time they turn three, boys are starting to learn all the cool things that their bodies can do. Each of the three toddler-sized sports balls included with this set is made to fit well in little hands and is soft enough to play with inside or outside. At under $20, it is also an excellent value. The textures of the balls make them easy for little kids to grip and throw. The rubber exterior of the ball is tough, but can be punctured if handled too roughly or bitten by family pets.
The balls included in the Toysmith Get Outside GO! Pro-Ball Set are made to feel like the real deal for little ones. Using this football, soccer ball, and basketball, kids will be able to emulate the sports skills they see from older siblings, parents, and athletes on TV. Not only does playing with each of these balls improve hand-eye coordination, throwing, catching, and kicking, but because they feel so realistic, kids will begin developing specific skills for all three sports.
One of six different options available from Move2Play, the Talkin’ Sports Interactive Toy Football is a friendly-looking plush football that speaks, sings, and encourages your little one to learn to throw a football. When tapped, it says one of its funny phrases, and when shaken, it sings a football-inspired song. It even detects when it is thrown or caught and responds appropriately. The ball is powered by a removable voice box and requires three AAA batteries, which are included. Unfortunately for nearby adults, the phrases can get a bit repetitive after continuous use.
The Move2Play Talkin’ Sports Football not only encourages young kids to throw and catch but it also praises them for their improvement. It can sense their biggest throws and softest catches and reinforces their progress. We were impressed by the messaging of this toy, with lots of the sayings reinforcing good sportsmanship, demonstrating a positive attitude, and introducing terms used during the game.
The Inflatable Football Toss Target Party Game features the image of a wide-open receiver waiting for the ball. Your kid’s job is to make sure that it gets into his hands. The target is 12 inches in diameter, making it just enough of a challenge for kids as young as three years old to score a touchdown. The toy is inflatable with a valve in the weighted base. Standing at a full 5 feet tall, this inflatable also takes some serious breathing power to fully inflate unless you happen to have a pump nearby.
Playing with the Inflatable Football Toss Target Party Game is a fun way for little football players to start developing their accuracy. To increase the difficulty level, kids only need to take a few steps away from the target. This one is sure to be a big hit with older kids and adults alike, and it’s great at parties.
Best for Boys 7-9 Years Old 2021
This is the first football that most peewee football teams use for competitive play, but it’s just as perfect for playing catch in the backyard. With quality stitching and real laces, this ball makes little players feel just like they are competing in the big time. Wilson has been manufacturing footballs for the NFL since 1941, so it’s no surprise that the feel and weight of this ball are just right.
Most of today’s NFL elite began their organized football careers by playing with this exact football. This is a professional quality ball in a size for smaller players, so kids will begin to get valuable experience feeling what a proper ball feels like when throwing, catching, or running with it. This ball is also likely to be significantly harder than the footballs they have been playing with up until this point, so kids who are afraid of the ball may have a more difficult time learning to catch using this ball.
Most football players agree that flag football comes second only to the tackling version of the game. This is because pulling a flag from the waist of a competitor is much more definitive than simply touching them. The evidence is clear, meaning that the petty arguments about who touched whom and with how many hands are gone for good. This set includes enough belts and flags for 5 players on each team. There is also a mini football with a set of basic plays diagrammed right on the ball itself. The belts are designed for small children, so any adults wanting to join in the fun are out of luck.
Between the ages of 7-9, kids begin to learn more about the game of football. Moving beyond the simple acts of throwing and catching the ball, at this stage, kids are now beginning to become familiar with the rules and objectives of the game. Concepts like running routes and playing as a team become more appealing. This flag football set allows kids to jump right into a game of football that feels more serious than simply playing catch.
10 colorful markers are included with the Franklin Sports I-Color Football, a regulation size 5 ball with a traditional four-panel design and hand-sewn laces. The twist here is that two of the panels of the football’s exterior are covered in a unique fabric that allows the ball to be colored in with the markers, but also still look, feel, and play just like a regular football. Coloring in the ball is a great project for a rainy afternoon, and the end result is sure to be used for games of catch and touch football for years to come.
While decorating a football using colorful markers does not improve any football skills on its own, the fact that kids end this project with their very own ball that they customized themselves is likely to make them want to play with this ball more often, increasing practice time and their personal connection to the sport. Once completed, the ball can be played with in all conditions as sand and water will not cause the marker colors to fade or run.
With a special grip pattern making the ball easier to throw and catch while it’s wet, the Wave Runner Waterproof Football is sure to be a favorite for all ages at the next pool party or trip to the beach. This ball makes it easy to throw a perfect spiral even in slippery conditions and the bright yellow design makes it easy to see, even when adrift. This 9.25-inch ball is just slightly larger than a regulation football for this age range, making it the perfect size for a family with kids of varying ages.
Playing football near water is a great chance to practice skills that are otherwise too intimidating or dangerous to practice on land. For instance, it is much safer to fully extend for a diving catch when jumping into the water. With this football, these skills can be developed in a safe environment.
Best for Boys 10-12 Years Old 2021
The soft, waterproof cover of the Wilson NFL MVP Football makes it a great candidate for play in the sun, rain, or snow. Made from all-composite leather, this ball feels great to both throw and catch. We especially appreciate the inclusion of a small air pump and kicking tee. The ball feels very sturdy and responsive when playing and features durable PVC construction in the laces. It’s officially licensed by the National Football League and prominently displays the NFL logo on the side.
Moving up to a junior-sized football is a relatively small change, especially for kids who are already accustomed to playing with a peewee sized ball. However, the additional size and weight of the ball does come with a learning curve of its own. Expect your football player to need some time to adjust while transitioning to this ball.
Available in 5 different color choices, the Franklin Sports Grip-Rite 100 Rubber Junior Football is a waterproof rubber football with a super tacky surface for improved grip. While this ball is not suitable for organized play, it’s a great choice for the backyard, beach, or playground, no matter the weather. This additional durability does make the ball feel a little harder than most leather or synthetic balls, which can lead to jammed fingers or other injuries.
As they approach their teenage years, kids will notice their arm strength and throwing ability beginning to improve quickly. At this stage, their muscles are rapidly developing and players are beginning to acquire some of their adult strength. The Franklin Sports Grip-Rite 100 Rubber Junior Football is a size 6 football, smaller than standard regulation size that allows kids to get a great grip and unleash their newfound power, throwing passes with extra velocity and control.
With four miniature inflatable footballs included, the GoSports Football Backyard Toss Game is a fun and challenging game that will provide hours of backyard fun. The Red Zone Challenge game board is made from PVC piping and quickly assembles in less than two minutes. It’s easy to take this game with you to the beach or on vacation because it disassembles into a convenient carrying case and weighs less than 15 pounds.
The GoSports Football Backyard Toss Game is a gift for casual football fans and the skills learned from playing do not translate particularly well onto the football field. However, the game does offer a positive overall-benefit to the development of hand-eye coordination. Learning to keep score also reinforces basic arithmetic and taking turns.
Vibrating electronic football tables have been around since the ’60s. The NFL Electric Football Game by Tudor Games looks very similar, but a massive improvement in technology results in a game that is far more interactive and reliable than the game you may remember from when you were a kid. We love the addition of a PlayAction remote that gives players control over the speed of the game, allowing them to quickly pause for a pass or handoff, or speed up for the sprint to the end zone.
Even though this game has very little to do with actual football, the addition of Invisibase technology in each of this game’s pieces makes them move in a much more reliable and consistent manner. This means that planning and strategy play a larger part in this version of the game when compared to its more random ancestor. The action on this field may look very little like actual football, but some play-calling concepts like blocking assignments can be translated to the playing field. There’s also the addition of the smartphone and tablet app, allowing this game to be played solo.
Best for Boys 12-14 Years Old 2021
With bold team logos and colors across the entire ball, the NFL Downfield Youth Football is a great pick for a young football player who wants to represent for their favorite team. Featuring Rawlings patented HD grip technology, this ball features 5 times the rubber grip pebbles when compared to standard rubber patterns. It’s a touch smaller than a standard sized game ball to help fit slightly-smaller hands.
Thanks to the improved grip, this ball is a great pick for boys who are exploring the limits of their newfound athletic ability. This ball makes it easier to perform advanced catches like over-the-shoulder and one-handed grabs. Unfortunately, some of the brighter team colors can be on the distracting side while the ball is spiraling through the air.
Featuring three targets that simulate prime receiving areas, the GoSports Football Trainer Throwing Net comes in two sizes, 6’x6’ and 8’x’8. Both versions of this product have the same number and size of targets, so there is not much incentive to buy the larger size aside from the fact that it will keep more missed throws from going over the net. It’s also foldable, lightweight, and comes with a convenient carrying case. This product is popular with individual players, coaches, and operators of football camps and training centers, just like training aids like Agility Ladders.
This net is useful for lots of drills involving throwing. By moving the target in relation to where you are throwing from, players can create several different scenarios testing both arm strength and accuracy. Players using this net will want to have several footballs on hand, as retrieving one ball at a time from this net can be extremely tedious.
Anyone who plays sports can surely understand the anguish of being ready to play, but having a ball that is too under-inflated to perform properly. Aside from having the proper pump with a needle, there is no good way to inflate your football or other sports ball. This kit comes with a small pump, carrying case, pressure gauge, three needles (watch out, as they bend easily), and flexible hose extension. The pump is also small and lightweight enough to come with you anywhere.
At the age of 12, boys should have an appreciation for their possessions and know how to keep them properly maintained. This kit is an important tool that will help him make sure that his collection of sports balls is properly inflated and well maintained.
The Passback Football is a unique and effective training aid for both quarterbacks and receivers. Even though it feels and is weighted exactly a regulation-sized junior football, the Passback has a flat end, allowing it to be thrown against a wall, predictably returning to the thrower. There are also versions available for peewee and official sizes.
The Passback Football is one of our favorite football training tools. It allows players to practice solo and even allows quarterbacks to double the number of throwing reps when compared to a standard game of catch, having the effect of quickly improving muscle mass and memory. Receivers can throw themselves a wide variety of passes off the wall, helping them to improve reaction time as well as hand and body control. Even with the flat end, the ball does not always bounce predictably. This is probably a good thing for players using this ball to work on their catching, but it can be a bit frustrating for players using this ball for throwing practice.
Best for Boys 14+ 2021
The world’s most famous football, “The Duke” can be seen getting tossed around by the world’s most famous football players every Sunday afternoon during football season. Since 1941, Wilson has had an agreement to provide the official game balls for the NFL and this particular ball has been around from the very beginning. Named for the nickname of legendary New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, each ball is handmade from exclusive Horween leather by skilled craftsmen and women in the Wilson factory located in Ada, Ohio. This does, however, make it significantly more expensive than other balls we reviewed.
When they first start playing with this ball, some kids may feel like it is a little too large for their hands. This makes sense as the jump from a junior to an official-sized ball is fairly large, so it may take a year or two for your boy’s hands to grow to the point where they have the same confidence level.
Powered by a tiny but incredibly light LED, the TealCo Tough Light-Up Football bright orange look may make you think it’s just a toy at first glance. But once you get a chance to throw it around, it turns out that this ball actually just feels and performs like any other high-quality regulation sized football, except it glows brightly for playing catch or a full football game at nighttime. The effect of seeing this ball fly through the air at night is quite fun to watch, and it’s even more fun to throw and catch. Ironically, the pale orange color and translucence actually makes seeing this ball in the day a little more difficult.
As a kid, many of us have countless memories of neighborhood football games only stopping because it got too dark to see the ball. The TealCo Tough Light-Up Football eliminates this problem for good. The biggest benefit of owning this ball is that it creates more opportunities for boys to go out and work on their throwing and catching, especially in places where it gets dark early in the winter.
Speed, leg strength, and balance are important attributes for every position on a football team. That’s why the GHB Pro Agility Ladder is such an important training tool for both offensive and defensive players. With adjustable rungs between two long ropes, players or coaches can set up their own workout by using the easily adjustable nylon straps, although types of foot patterns are relatively limited. The ladder comes with 12 durable plastic rungs and 20 feet of nylon straps on which to place them.
The GHB Pro Agility Ladder can be set up as part of many different drills and workouts. The intent of using this tool is to challenge players to quickly step between each rung while maintaining balance. As a result of using this training tool regularly, players can expect to see improved balance, footwork, and running speed. You can also find many videos online demonstrating proper technique for training with this tool.
Officially licensed by the NFL, this compact board game challenges two to four players to take control of their favorite franchises and face off in four quarters of strategy-based football action. With end zone graphics for each of the league’s 32 teams, players use cards and dice to try and move the football down the field for a touchdown (or at least a field goal.) Each game lasts between 45-60 minutes, making it perfect for a family game night or for for waiting on your favorite team to play on TV.
Of course, your boy won’t learn much about actually playing football by playing the NFL GameDay Board Game, but it does a good job of boiling down some of the strategic choices made during a football game in a way that will give players an appreciation for the kinds of decisions that a coach has to make during a game. All the plays listed on the cards are actual plays taken from real NFL playbooks.
For the Love of the Game
There is a reason that football is well-loved in the USA. It is a uniquely American game with endless ways for players and spectators to enjoy. We hope you find this list useful and that it helps the football on your fan develop a deeper connection with this game that we love.