If you’re into the sport of basketball then you know one thing: the ball that you’re using matters. While novices might not be able to differentiate, there are a ton of different factors which go into making a great basketball. If you’re in a hurry, we recommend the Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball for most people. It’s suitable for all environments and the high quality really stands out.
On the other hand, if you want to make sure that you find the best basketball for your hooping needs then you’ll want to peruse our top picks and get into our guide to learn about the differences which make each special.
If you want a ball which is suitable for play no matter where you end up, then the Molten X-series has you in mind. It’s our favorite for most consumers, so give it a shot!
Top 5 Basketballs
|Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor||5, 6, 7||Synthetic Leather||Check Price|
|Wilson Evolution Indoor||6, 7||Composite Leather||Check Price|
|Spalding NBA Street Basketball||5, 6, 7||Rubber||Check Price|
|Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor||5||Composite Leather||Check Price|
|The Rock- Basketball||7||Composite Leather||Check Price|
1. Best Overall
Molten X-Series Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
Most of us play in a variety of different places. The Molten X-series is simply the best ball around for general purposes, and it comes available in all sizes from youth to regulation.
The design of the ball has also been made specifically for increased visibility. This is great when you’re playing in subpar lighting conditions and it adds a unique aesthetic to the ball without being gaudy.
On top of that, you get a great grip and feel from this ball. It’ll hold up well for a long time no matter what surface you’re playing on and the grooves are wide enough to let you get some impressive backspin.
Pros and Cons
- Super durable synthetic leather material
- High visibility design for low light conditions
- Comes in all sizes
- FIBA approved
- Comes un-pumped which can leave wrinkles in the material
- Size 7 is a little bit undersized
2. Best Indoor Basketball
Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball
If you know that you’re going to be playing indoors, then you’ll want the best ball for the surface. The Wilson Evolution is exactly that ball. It comes in both sizes 6 and 7, so you can pick a good size to make sure that you’ve got a good handle on things. The best part, however, is that it has a smooth and even bounce, wide grooves, and great grip to let you get all of the play you need. Even the channels have a bit of grip, keeping them from being smooth and hard to utilize.
For indoor purposes, this ball is the best around but it’s not durable enough for street ball.
For league games and other indoor purposes, the Wilson Evolution is the best ball around. Pick one up and be amazed at the superior grip and feel and see where it leads you.
Pros and Cons
- Wide, grippy grooves
- Awesome bounce and feel due to cushion core
- Comes filled and ready to go
- Super durable for indoor use
- Breaks down quickly on concrete and asphalt
- No youth size available
3. Best Leather Basketball
The Rock Basketball
The Rock delivers in spades, but it does cost a premium over many of the other balls on the market. This leather ball has a serious cult following, with many people swearing that it’s the absolute best ball on the planet. While we might not quite agree with that, one thing is certain: this is the best leather basketball you’ll be able to find without getting into ultra-priced, hand-made balls. It even comes with a certificate of authenticity for those who aren’t believers that it’s something special.
It has amazing grip, one of the most even bounces on the planet, and it’s absolutely top-notch. Just don’t use this authentic leather ball outdoors if you want all of that to last.
For those who aren’t afraid to pay a premium for a pretty amazing basketball, The Rock is pretty much the last stop until you get into the serious big leagues with hand-made balls.
Pros and Cons
- Amazing grip over the whole ball
- Super deep channels for great finger play
- Ultra-bouncy construction
- Certificate of authenticity included, accept no substitutes
- For indoor use only
- Super expensive
4. Best Basketball for Kids
Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor
When it comes down to it, kids need a few qualities in a ball: size 5 works but you also need to make sure that the ball is lighter to promote good form. Spalding delivers with this excellent ball designed for kids, with 25% less weight than the usual fare. The ball comes in both the traditional design and a brightly colored model which will leave most people with a bit of a grin due to the clown-like colors.
For kids who are just learning this ball is perfect. By remaining lighter you can keep them from having to apply a ton of extra force to the ball and start maintaining good habits right from the start.
If you’re buying a ball for kids, then the Spalding Rookie Gear is exactly the right way to start out with teaching them proper technique.
Pros and Cons
- Perfectly sized for children
- Reduced weight promotes proper form in children
- High quality, durable backing
- Attractive colored design available
- Only suitable for kids
- A bit high priced for a child’s ball
5. Best Outdoor Ball
Spalding NBA Street Basketball
The classic Spalding NBA Street Basketball is the ball that many of us grew up on. It’s a durable rubber ball that will stand the test of time and allow you to keep going on any hard and rough surface for years to come.
Even better, it comes in at a super low price. This makes it the ideal budget ball for beginners, even those who are playing indoors. Add in that it comes in all three of the common sizes and you’ve got a clear contender for the best outdoor basketball around.
This super popular ball isn’t really anything special, apart from some nostalgia value and extreme durability. Pick it up if you’re the type who loves to play pick up games at the local park but dedicated indoors players may want something a bit more specialized.
Pros and Cons
- Super durable design
- Comes in all three common sizes
- Wide channels for grip
- Will last practically forever
- Has a tendency to lose air when stored after heavy use
- Not suitable for indoor environments
Picking a Basketball for Your Game
While a lot of people don’t know the difference between balls, there really is a ton to keep in mind if you want something ideal instead of just mediocre.
We’re here to make sure that you get only the best.
So think about the following before we go on:
- Where do you usually play? Indoors or outdoors?
- Are you buying it for a younger person?
- Are your hands big enough for a regulation sized ball?
Once you’ve got all that sorted in your head, then you’re ready to give some serious thought to the rest of the ball.
Basketballs are actually made of quite a few different materials. Most people are still stuck in that “ball is ball” mode, and that’s not really where you want to be in order to end up with the best option for your game.
There are three main materials which are used, and which you end up going with depends largely on the type of game that you’re playing.
Leather balls are used for indoor play on hardwood floors. They also need to be “broken in” by being played with. As the most expensive option, they’re not great for those who are trying to save money even if you primarily play indoors, but they’re the closest to the “real deal” that you’ll be able to find.
Composite balls are made to feel like leather but are a lot cheaper. They’re also generally used on indoor courts, and they tend to be a lot cheaper than balls which are made with actual leather which is great for the pocket book. Whether or not you think they really “compare” is largely up to the individual.
Rubber balls are the cheapest, and the best for outdoor play. If you’re playing on concrete or asphalt, then you’ll want to go with one of these. They’re great for beginners no matter where you’re playing.
Most people will be well served with an outdoor ball, but if you’re playing indoors as well spend a little bit more money to snag a synthetic leather ball. You’ll be quite pleased with the improvement to your game.
As a general rule, however, most beginners use a rubber ball. They’re
Wider or narrower grooves are present on most basketballs. How much you like them really depends on the individual in question, but a lot of people prefer wider since they feel that it gives them better “finger-play.”
These grooves can be used to manipulate the ball, but they’re not of much concern for someone who’s just starting at the sport.
There are a bewildering array of different sizes of ball available. Oddly enough, the regulation NBA size really is too big for the average person. They measure out with a 29 ½” circumference and weigh 22 ounces.
If you’re teaching a kid how to shoot, go for a smaller ball. Experts agree that it’s a great way to really screw up their form by using a full sized ball which they’ll have to put all of their weight behind to shoot.
Sizes come in 5, 6, and 7 for the most part. 7 is the “standard” NBA ball if that’s what you’re aiming for. Size 6 is the one which is used in the NBA. Size 5 are considered youth balls.
Just make sure that you size things accordingly and you’ll be good to go.
Let’s face it, we’ve all bought a ball or two over the years which has been a decision based solely on the design. If you’re looking for something cool, then you’re sure to be able to find it.
On the other hand, whether or not it’s truly as good as some of the standard balls is up to the user to decide. Most of the flashier basketballs are going to have some irritating qualities for someone who’s trying to achieve peak performance.
Here’s the thing: if you’re not going to settle for the standard color scheme you may want to just invest in a little bit of paint to customize a good ball, rather than settling for a sub-par one.
Grip and “Feel”
Each ball feels a little bit different. Over time most people will develop a preference.
For the average beginner a really grippy ball is a good thing. It’ll let you get backspin and perform other maneuvers without having to wrap your hand all the way around the entire ball.
This is hard to judge based from pictures but for the most part you can rest assured that the average ball is going to be great for the novice player. This is a much more advanced characteristic to care about, despite armchair player’s insistence otherwise.
The bounce, on the other hand, is a bit easier to judge. Leather balls do their best on a smooth surface like hardwood, which is why they’re the gold standard for NBA games.
Synthetic leather balls tend to be a bit worse in bounce, but modern advancements are moving things along nicely and you can usually get a pretty even feel when using one.
On the other hand, rubber balls tend to have a good bounce on really hard service but they get a bit weird when you’re working on smooth surfaces. Street ball is definitely a thing though, and you can generally get a great rubber ball for less than $15, so if you’re primarily playing informal outdoor games they’re still the best option.
Basketball Maintenance Tips
It might not be obvious right out of the gate, but if you spend a considerable amount on a great basketball then you’re going to want to ensure that it lasts as long as possible.
With frequent play, even the burliest and most well cared-for ball is going to break down. On the other hand, they’ll last a lot longer if you take good care of them.
One of the big things is to make sure that they’re kept at the correct PSI. A lot of us have a tendency to just fill them up and see how it goes, but if you store your ball at the correct pressure it will last for a lot longer.
You might even want to consider taking the air out of it if you’re not playing for an extended period. This will keep the core from wearing out while it’s not in use but it’s not super concerning.
The other big thing is not to leave them in the weather when you’re not playing. The elements can make short work of a ball that could have lasted for years.
That’s particularly important if you’ve got a leather ball, which break down fairly quickly when exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation.
Washing Your Leather Ball
If you’re observant, you might have noticed that we recommend a lot more maintenance for leather basketballs. The material is fantastic for indoor play, but it’s also a lot more sensitive to the elements than synthetic materials.
And honestly, rubber will hardly need any maintenance at all.
Washing your leather basketball isn’t really that hard, however. You might want to wash it any time you notice grime building up.
Whether it’s from sweat or just stuff on your hands, this stuff can penetrate the leather and seriously affect the lifespan of the ball.
When you’ve noticed some build-up, then it’s time to grab the ball and get cleaning.
The best way to do this is to grab a bucket, a rag, and a bit of dish detergent.
Clean the ball carefully, trying to get out as much of the grime as possible. Pay special attention to the grooves, where things build up the most.
Afterwards, dry off the ball to keep it from soaking up soap or water.
Don’t submerge the ball when doing this. If you do, water can seep in through any cracks and then you’re going to have a real problem. It’s particularly important to avoid doing this with older balls that have already seen some use.
We hope that we’ve been able to guide you to the best basketball for your own playing style and needs. Whether you’re in an amateur league or just shooting hoops with the guys, putting a bit of thought into the ball you use can make a huge difference in your game. Snap one up now and hit the courts, it’s time to have some fun!