The Best Basketballs

Table of Contents

Lacing up your shoes, throwing on your jersey and picking up a basketball is a familiar feeling for most people at one time or another in their lives. Maybe you were forced to play in gym class, or chose to play competitively — whatever the case, the sounds of the ball swishing as it sinks through the net, or the beat of the ball getting dribbled down court are welcomed noises for basketball players. But have you ever noticed that some balls sound different when bounced? Some make a solid “thunk” noise while others reverberate longer? That’s because not all balls are made with the same materials and are built to be used for different things.

If you’re on the hunt for a new basketball, before you drop $100 on a professional Spalding ball you need to understand what materials balls are made of and think about what and where you’re going to use it as well as what size ball you’ll need. If you already know what type of material and size ball you’re looking for, keep reading to see our list of some of the best types of basketballs on the market. If you had no idea basketballs were made differently, you may need a little more guidance. Head down to the bottom of the article to get a better sense of which ball is right for you.

More likely than not, your local store is open for curb-side pickup only, which means you can’t go into the store and hold each ball to get an idea of it’s feel and bounce. Although it may make shopping for a basketball a little harder, it's not impossible. Knowing what size ball you or your league requires, whether it’s going to be used inside or outside, or if it will be used for building ball handling skills, will all have an effect on what type of ball you buy. You should also keep in mind how much money you’re willing to spend on a ball, and how often it’s going to get used. With that said, let’s jump into our list of the best overall, training, indoor, outdoor, women's and kids basketballs.

1. Editor's Pick: Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor-Outdoor 29.5" Basketball

Key Specs

Size/Diameter: 7 / 29.5”

Taking its spot as the best overall basketball, the Spalding NBA Zi/O indoor-outdoor basketball is a great universal, all-around basketball used by beginners and pros alike. This NBA official-sized basketball has a foam backed design that's soft to the touch to give maximum grip and performs regardless if you're in the gym or outside on your driveway.

2. Runner Up: Baden SkilCoach Shooter's Rubber Training Basketball

Key Specs

Size/Diameter: 5 or 6 / 27.5” or 28

If your hand-eye coordination, dribbling, passing or shooting needs some improvement, grabbing a training basketball might do you some good. This Baden SkilCoach shooter's rubber ball will help those looking to improve their shooting and comes lined with specific hand markers to help build strong technique. Great for beginners, this rubber ball can withstand both indoor and outdoor practice to help you establish proper form regardless of where you play.

3. Best Indoor: Wilson Evolution Game Basketball

Key Specs

Size/Diameter: 6, 7, or 8 / 27.5”, 28.5”, or 29.5”

The Wilson Evolution game basketball is ranked the #1 indoor basketball in America, and is commonly used in high schools all over the country. This reliable indoor basketball meets all of your indoor — the leather composite cover provides a grip players love, while its cushion core makes the ball soft to the touch. With a durability that will last all season, this ball ranges from youth to adult sizes and comes in a variety of colours so your ball can reflect your style.

4. Best Outdoor: Spalding NBA Street Basketball

Key Specs

Size/Diameter: 7 or 8 / 28.5” or 29.5”

If outdoor ball is your calling, you won’t be disappointed with this Spalding NBA street basketball. Designed for competitive street play, this durable ball is ranked as Amazon’s #1 bestseller. This rubber basketball is lined with an outdoor performance cover to help fight against the wear and tear of playing outside, while its wide channel grip helps with control and provides a great feel on the hands.

5. Best Women’s: Spalding WNBA Replica Outdoor Basketball

Key Specs

Size/Diameter: 6 / 28.5”

Why not practice and play like the pros with this WNBA replica outdoor basketball? Built to WNBA size and weight standards, this basketball uses a two-panel construction to improve the feel and grip of the ball regardless if you want to hit indoor or outdoor courts. This inexpensive professional ball is a great way to encourage females to play basketball, and makes for the perfect gift for aspiring young athletes.

6. Best for Kids: Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor Composite 27.5 Youth Basketball

Key Specs

Size/Diameter: 5 / 27.5”
If your kid is interested in experimenting with basketball but you don’t want to splurge on a ball they’ll get tired of after a few weeks, the Spalding Rookie Gear indoor and outdoor basketball is a great inexpensive way to introduce them to basketball, keep them engaged and active with it’s bright, fun designs and small size. Built 15 per cent lighter than other balls to help perfect technique, this ball comes game ready to take on indoor and outdoor games.

FAQ: What Size Should I Get?

The size of your basketball all depends on your league, age and gender. Finding the right-sized ball can help prevent injury and also helps to improve ball handling skills. Typically, basketballs can be broken down into three categories:

Men’s

Men’s balls are classified as size-7 or have a circumference of 29.5” and weigh around 20-22 oz. This size is recommended for people aged 13 and higher.

Women's

Females and youth leagues from ages nine to 12 are recommended to use size-6 balls that have a circumference of 28.5”.

Kid’s

For children under the age of 9, a size-5 ball is typically used with a circumference of 27.5”. Smaller sized balls can also be used for skill training in older adults.

What Are the Types of Materials Used for Basketballs?

Quick Look

  • Leather: Used indoors, most expensive
  • Synthetic: Can be used both inside and outside, middle price range
  • Rubber: Used outside, cheapest option

Leather

If you want a high quality ball, leather is the way to go. Although definitely the most expensive style of ball, leather balls have a higher level of grip that will benefit even the sweatiest of palms, and have a soft feel to them. Used by the pros, leather balls are meant for indoor use only. The leather helps avoid damage on wooden floors and courts, but will get torn apart by concrete.

Synthetic

These balls are the best middle ground balls and can be used both indoors and outside. Unlike leather balls that need to be broken in, synthetic balls are ready to go when you are. These durable yet cheap balls provide the same feel of leather balls but can save you a pretty penny.

Rubber

This style of ball is generally used outdoors and is the cheapest option of the three. Rubber balls have a little more bounce and durability than other styles, and are a great option for beginners. These hard to destroy, ideal for summer camp types of balls can withstand a lot of great use, but if you buy a no-name brand, be wary that you may be getting what you pay for.

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Finding the right style of ball can be as simple as understanding the purpose of each ball, what size ball you need, and choosing the appropriate material. If you choose the right ball for the right style of play, a good basketball should give you anywhere from 500-5,000 hours of play! Before you buy, talk to other basketball enthusiasts or players for tips, as well as read reviews online to help ensure you’re on the right track to finding the best basketball for your game.

We're always looking for more feedback! If you've purchased one of the basketballs on this list and would like to share your experience, please comment below and let us know what you think about our picks.

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