How to choose the right basketball

Basketball

There are a lot of things to think about when preparing to hit the court - which basketball jersey to wear, which shoes, even which shorts to throw on. But perhaps the most important choice is which basketball to use.

At first glance most basketballs may look the same - especially if you’re new to the game - but they can differ a lot in style, function and materials. Selecting the right basketball for your unique style will ensure you can play your best, no matter if you’re a pro or just dribbling for fun.

So, what are the key differences between these basketballs, and how do you know which one is the right sort for you?

SIZE MATTERS

Basketballs come in different sizes, so picking the right size for your purpose is important. In general, you pick the size based on the age of the player, but there are a few nuances that may affect which size you choose to go with.

For example, if you play in a league of any kind - whether it is professional or amateur - you should start by checking whether they have any restrictions or guidelines that you need to adhere to. Some leagues have strict rules and may only permit balls of a certain material, size or colour.

Quick guide to choosing your size

SIZE 7 - 29.5” in circumference. Weight: 0.62kg (22 oz)
This is the standard size for men’s professional associations, and the most popular size on the market. It’s also a popular choice for men’s high school and college basketball leagues.

SIZE 6 - 28.5” in circumference. Weight: 0.56kg (20 oz)
Slightly smaller than the size 7 balls, these are a great choice for those with smaller hands. It’s the official size for most women’s professional leagues and associations. As with the men’s size 7, the 6’s are also used in women’s college and high school leagues.

SIZE 5 - 27.5”-27.75” circumference. Weight: 0.39-0.45kg (14-16 oz)
This is the ideal ball for players aged 8-11. It’s the most popular size for both girls and boys youth leagues.

SIZE 4 - 25.5” Circumference. Weight: 0.39kg (14 oz)
The size four balls are usually reserved for the youngest players, aged 4-8. This is the perfect ball to give your child or younger sibling as a gift to get them started on their basketball journey.

ENVIRONMENT AND BALL MATERIAL

Vortex Dribbling Exercises 12

In addition to settling on the right size, you also have to choose which material you’d like your basketball to be made of. There are a few different options here, and to ensure you get as much use of your ball for as long as possible, it’s important to understand the difference between them. The most important factor is where you intend to play. In other words, are you planning to use the ball indoors or outdoors? Do you play in a league and need to consider their requirements, or are you dribbling with friends on weekends? Another important factor to consider is your budget, as the balls can vary substantially in price.

Outdoor courts - As outdoor courts usually have rough, more abrasive surfaces (for example, asphalt or concrete), the ball will need to have a much more rugged construction. More durable balls will also be able to handle the weather more easily.

Indoor courts - Most indoor courts have a smooth or polished surface, so the makeup of the ball can be much more forgiving.

LEATHER BALLS

  • Used in the professional leagues
  • Only appropriate for indoor use
  • Most comfortable type of ball and provides better grip
  • The longer they are used the softer they feel

RUBBER BALLS

  • Perfect for outdoor courts / street play
  • Great grip even in poorer weather conditions such as rain or mud
  • More affordable option
  • Endless designs and colour options available on the market

COMPOSITE BALLS

  • This is the most common basketball - chances are you’ve bounced one of these before!
  • Can be used on both indoor and outdoor courts
  • Very durable and perfect for amateur or street play
  • Also known as “Synthetic Basketballs”

So there it is! Now you know the basics of choosing the best basketball for your intended play and court. But don’t forget that choosing the right footwear is equally important when it comes to maximising your game and performance. If you’re due for an upgrade, check out our previous post on how to pick the right basketball shoes for your game.