Anyone who has dribbled a basketball can agree that size, material, and brand reputation are most important when you look for the right ball.
That was our top criteria for selecting the best basketball.
The Spalding NBA Indoor/Outdoor Basketball scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick when you are looking for a great, long lasting ball to shoot hoops with.
Whether you want to learn the newest basketball moves or master an awesome layup, basketball is a game people have come to know and love. The game is now being played in almost every country across the globe and is played by more than two hundred and fifty million people. The game began as far back as five hundred years ago, and has been bringing joy to its players since the beginning. One of the many great things about this unique and popular sport is that it is one of the few sports that you can play both indoors and outdoors. So rain or shine, the game goes on, for year round enjoyment and nonstop play.
Today you can play basketball on recreational teams or a pick-up game at the local gym. Players begin enjoying the game with the youngest players starting around the age of four. People can enjoy basketball throughout their lives with senior teams gathering in most major cities for ages sixty five and up. You can find basketball teams on all skill levels and cities around the country provide facilities in parks and recreation centers. Nowadays there are also teams in almost every learning facility, including middle and high school teams that break into junior varsity and varsity levels. College and professional level teams are so popular they show games across multiple sports channels. The National Basketball Association (NBA) consists of the nation’s very best athletes and players are often active in their local communities promoting the sport.
In addition to these teams, they have created basketball teams and leagues for people who are disabled, recovering from illnesses, or even those in rehabilitation. This includes wheelchair bound individuals who can enjoy the game while staying active and healthy. For those in wheelchairs, specially designed wheelchairs with angled wheels are available to make participating in sports like basketball easier.
Basketball is not only a fun way to stay in shape, but also a great way to come together with friends and family to enjoy a common interest. The game has been used with patients in rehabilitation from various illnesses as a way to channel energy and reduce stress. Basketball has been said to significantly improve the healing time of patients recovering from strokes and some types of heart disease. It has been used to aide troubled youth, providing a positive outlet for physical activity and helping keep kids and young adults away from potentially bad situations. Basketball can be a very physically active sport or as low key as you make it out to be. It can literally be adapted to every fitness level and can be a great way to lose weight for those who are not usually as active.
Another benefit to basketball is that it can be played alone or with a team. It does not require expensive equipment. Just a ball and a basketball hoop. Nets are available for various size balls and come in different sizes and heights to accommodate young children all the way to pro level players. It’s a sport that can be practiced alone, played with one or more players or involve an official teams of 5 on each side. The game can be adjusted to meet the needs of players of all levels and backgrounds. This high level of versatility makes basketball a very popular sport played by millions.
How do you decide which ball to use. There are countless types of basketballs for all the teams and groups including differences in the material they are made from, color, texture, brand, and other features that a player wants or needs to enhance the quality or technique of the game. We have narrowed down the list to the best basketballs based on the overall quality of the ball and price, for your review. We have also provided a buyer’s guide to help you sift through all the options to decide which features are the most important. Our objective is to provide all of the information you need to make an informed decision to kick start this game for life or continue your experience playing, with the best ball possible.
1. Spalding NBA Zi/O
Best Overall Basketball
The Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball is a top pick because it offers many features that benefit even the most advanced basketball players. The Spalding NBA Basketball meets the NBA’s stringent ball specifications. The Spalding brand is the official brand used in professional NBA and WNBA games. It is covered with pebbling and a design that includes foam backing to provide a soft and tacky feel that improves grip and is also extremely comfortable in your hands. It provides an amazingly good grip on various basketball court surfaces
. The measurements are 29 1/2 inches (Size 7), weighs 22 ounces and meets the official NBA guidelines
for size and weight. The ball is made with a Zi/O composite leather outer cover with both a look and feel of an official NBA basketball.
This particular Basketball is extremely long lasting, and maintains good bounce and grip from daily indoor and outdoor use. It is shipped to you pre-inflated so as soon as it arrives it is ready to be used, with no pumping needed. You can take it straight to the black top or indoor gym and begin playing. Often continued use will require additional air for the ball. When this occurs it is recommended to inflate the Basketball with a designated air pump needle for maximum fullness. This Basketball achieves the highest quality possible for its intended use and will last a long time even with regular play, without loss of grip or color fading.
The exterior of the ball is the traditional orange color with black channels and lettering. On the face of the ball you will see the words “Spalding” and “NBA” printed across it in black lettering. This professional looking ball is indicative of the manufacturing process and the quality. The design gives your Basketball a very professional and prominent look and feel that you will be proud to play with. There are no extra grips where the words are printed across your ball or on the lettering. However, this does not affect its durability, bounce, or the overall feel of the basketball in any way.
Customers raving about the great quality and durability of this basketball which are both important qualities for a ball intended for daily use. They love that they can use it on various surfaces in both indoor and outdoor settings. The bounce remains consistent even after continued use. The grip stays strong over time and the ball maintains its quality and color even after heavy use. Unlike some of the more expensive brands of basketballs, Spalding holds up to its name and has provided an excellent basketball with a life expectancy that tops other leading competitors.
– Jonathan Maxwell
2. Wilson Evolution
Best Indoor Basketball
The Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball is a top pick because it features a cushion core technology. This means it has a low density sponge and butyl rubber for a perfect bounce and grip of even the roughest indoor courts. This basketball also features a thermal molded rubber bladder which encourages good grip players hand and will accommodate advanced basketball movements. This feature encourages the ball to bounce back more efficiently. To keep the air encased in the ball, the basketball has a three ply thread winding. This prevents the air from escaping and enables you to use the basketball longer before needing to add air.
With the Wilson Evolution Basketball you will also find a high definition pebble outer surface for improved grip to and from the court during dribbling and a better overall performance. One of the other great features about this basketball is that it is available in all three sizes and different colors to fit your personal needs. This basketball is literally made for everyone. It comes in an intermediate size at 28 1/2 inches(size 6) which is the size most commonly used for women’s teams and is the size used by the WNBA. This size is also appropriate for children ages 12 to 15. The Wilson Evolution ball is also available in the official men’s size of 29 1/2 inches (size 7).
Another great addition they have added to this ball, is the option of more than one color option. When selecting a 29 1/2 inch traditional size ball you have several color options which include: the original colors (orange with black lettering), a solid black ball with black lettering, a black ball with red lettering, or a black ball with silver lettering. Often times when you play basketball you will find that many of the players have their own balls all in the original orange and black color. This may result in the potential of getting your ball lost in the mix of other similar balls or accidentally picked up by others. The different color option allows your basketball to stand out among the rest and is easier to identify and keep up with.
The Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball is designed for indoor play only. Although many owners use the basketball in outdoor courts and say it will withstand the harsher court environment of hard pavement, rocks and uneven surfaces. This basketball should be filled with air via air pump needle for maximum fullness and when properly cared for will hold its air for weeks of continual use without needing additional air. The basketball comes with a custom Wilson logo printed on the Basketball’s surface for a sleek and professional look everyone is sure to recognize. The Wilson brand is the official basketball used for NCAA college tournament games.
Customers love that the basketball stands up to heavy use and can be used all the time without needing air frequently. The ball has a comfortable grip and good bounce. This ball has the option of purchasing a women’s size ball or the official NBA men’s size ball. Customers love this option and often purchase the slightly smaller size for children who are just getting started with the game. Customers also love the option of different colors. While the traditional orange ball is still the most popular color choice the ability to get a black ball with black, red or silver lettering gives customers more options for customization. With the various sizes, colors, and one of a kind grip there’s no mistake this ball stands out among its competitors.
– Jonathan Maxwell
3. Spalding NBA All Conference
Best Budget Basketball
The Spalding NBA All Conference Basketball is a top pick because it is made from the highest quality materials. It has a traditional PU composite outer covering. There is tacky pebbling for added grip and fuller bounce. From the hand of the player to the ground and back,you can expect each bounce to grip and rebound as intended with the upmost comfort level in your hands.The Spalding brand is the official brand used in professional NBA and WNBA games
This basketball was designed with a range of consumers in mind and comes three different sizes. The youth size ball is 27 1/2 inches in circumference and is best for children up to age 11. The smaller ball gives younger players a better grip and easier handling while they learn basic skills of dribbling and shooting. The intermediate size is 28 1/2 inches in circumference and is most commonly used for women’s teams and children between the ages of 12 and 15. This is the official size for the women’s WNBA. Younger players will often use this size as they gain skills and get better at the sport. The smaller size is better for those with smaller hands, providing a better grip and it is easier to control the ball and learn good form. The basketball is also available in the 29 1/2 inches official NBA size and weight. For those over the age of 16 this is the most commonly selected ball.
This particular basketball was specifically intended for both indoor and outdoor play making your basketball experience as versatile as possible. The Spalding All Conference Basketball is very affordable but is not lacking any of the qualities or features offered in top quality basketballs today. On this ball you will see the Spalding logo printed on the face in black lettering. The All Conference logo has silver lettering, giving the ball a sleek and professional look.
This basketball was designed for continual use and a rugged playing environment. Throughout many hours of play in both indoor and outdoor use there is minimal color fading of the basketball, so it will remain looking new and maintain its bounce and grip over time. The Spalding ball should be filled with air periodically using a designated pump needle so that the ball will remain fully inflated for long period of time. A properly inflated ball will offer the gest grip and bounce. This ball was also recorded to have lasted long lengths of time with no air leakage or flattening.
Customers love that this ball can be used in both indoor and outdoor applications. They are pleased with the overall quality of the ball including the solid grip and good bounce. The lack of color fading makes the ball more durable and last longer. The ball also maintains its cover and grip even with continual use in an outdoor environment. Customers also like that the ball comes in three different sizes. Young children can use the smaller size as they learn ball control. Over time as their hands get bigger, they can trade up to a larger size.
– Jonathan Maxwell
Summary of Our Top Picks
Each of the top pick basketballs come in the official NBA size and weight coming in at 29 ½ inches in circumference. The Spalding All Conference ball is available in the most size options with a youth (Size 5), women’s (Size 6) and men’s (Size 7). This allows players to grow into a ball and provides a smaller circumference ball for younger players. The Wilson Evolution ball comes in both the men’s and women’s size balls (Size 6 and 7). Many customers found that younger players can use the smaller women’s size
ball effectively. This will depend on the age and skill of the child.
The Wilson Evolution basketball is the only ball that comes in a different color, beyond the traditional orange. They offer a black ball with three different lettering choices including black on black, black with red lettering or black with silver lettering. If you play ball with others having a distinctive ball that is easy to identify can prevent the ball from getting lost or picked up by another player.
Both the Spalding NBA Zi/O and the Spalding All Conference are built to be used in both indoor and outdoor settings. The exterior leather is tough enough to handle concrete or blacktop surfaces, uneven pavement and rocks and pebbles that are often found on outdoor courts. The Wilson Evolution basketball is designed only for indoor use and may not perform well or last as long if used in an outdoor setting.
All three balls are made of top quality material and have the pebbling on the exterior of the ball. This provides a better grip during play and helps the bounce of the ball. Once the exterior gets worn the ball generally needs to be replaced. All three balls do an excellent job of retaining its air and does not need to be inflated frequently. They all provide an excellent basketball for home and league use and can be enjoyed for an extended period of time.
4. Spalding NBA Street
5. Spalding NBA Courtside
6. Spalding Rookie Gear
7. Spalding NBA Varsity
8. Spalding Varsity
9. Wilson NCAA Replica
10. Spalding NBA Replica
Basketball Buying Guide
All about Basketballs
Basketballs offer many features, sizes, colors, and overall quality. A good ball will provide a good grip for the player. It will have superior lacing to seal the air into the ball and will provide a good bounce over a long period of time. The texture and material the ball is made from will play a major role in the overall quality of the ball. The material used on the exterior of the ball will determine if the ball can be used in indoor or outdoor applications.
Basketballs have come a long way and these modern designs have brought the game to a whole new level. They maximize efficiency and improve overall performance and technique.
Basketballs generally come in three different sizes. The sizes are based on the circumference of the ball. Smaller balls will also weigh less than the official NBA balls. The ball sizes are commonly referred to as a size 5, 6 or 7.
The official NBA and NCAA size is 29 1/2 inches in circumference (Size 7) for men’s teams and weighs 22 ounces. This is the size used in middle school, high school, college and professional teams and the most common size used in leagues and for individual play. Generally children ages 16 and over will use the full size ball.
Women most often use a slightly smaller ball that is 28 1/2 inches in circumference (Size 6) and weighs 20 ounces. The smaller ball is made for a better grip with smaller hands that women tend to have. The smaller ball is also popular among children from ages 12 to 15, who want to play but have a harder time controlling the larger men’s ball. This is the official ball size for the WNBA.
Youth basketballs are generally 27 1/2 inches in circumference (Size 5) and weigh 18 ounces. These balls are good for those starting out in the game and are commonly used for children ages 11 or younger. As their hand size grows and their skill level improves they are able to handle a ball with a larger circumference.
Choosing the correct size ball for the player will enable them to gain their skills faster and build their confidence as they learn to dribble and shoot the ball.
Indoor or Outdoor
Basketballs are designated for use in either indoor or outdoor play. Some are able to be used in both settings.
Indoor basketballs are designed to perform well on indoor courts. They do not have a rugged exterior that can handle outside conditions, but are made to be played on vinyl floors. For those who play mostly in gyms the indoor balls are a great choice. They will last longer because the surface conditions are easier on the balls material.
Outdoor basketballs are designed to withstand outdoor courts. This includes concrete and blacktop surfaces along with pebbles and rocks that are invariably found on outdoor courts. If you play mostly in outdoor courts having a basketball specifically designed for that will provide a longer lasting ball. Many outdoor balls are able to be used in an indoor environment.
Materials and Construction
One of the most important features is the construction of the ball. The material that is used and how the ball is designed will largely determine the life of the basketball. Today balls have a similar design in the sense that they all have an interior bladder that keep the basketball inflated. The exterior of the ball can be made from leather, rubber or a synthetic material. These will have different grades and quality based on the density and construction process.
Indoor balls are most often made from leather or synthetic material. Outdoor balls are often made from rubber or synthetic compounds, because they are more durable. Leather balls are softer and provide a solid grip. Composite or synthetic material can respond much like leather in the look and feel of the ball. It can also be made to resist moisture, making it more durable for outdoor use. Rubber balls are the least expensive material and are very durable. For playing though, the balls are rougher to handle and do not feel as good on the hands.
Every ball has the same key construction elements. These include the bladder of the ball, the threading that seals the ball, the carcass, cover, channel and pebbles. The bladder is the inside of the ball and seals the air tight helping the ball retain its shape and maintain air. The threading provides structure. Around the bladder is the carcass which is made of leather, rubber or synthetic material. The cover is what is visible when you look at a basketball. The channels are the black lines seen on the ball and seal each panel together. The pebbles provide the balls texture on the surface of the basketball and help improve grip and bounce.
Color and Print
The color of official basketballs is orange and black. Though many manufacturers make basketballs in an array of colors. While the orange and black are the most popular colors, many players like the ability to personalize their balls buy selecting different colors.
Whether you want to learn to shoot free throws or practice your slam dunks, owning your own basketball is the surest way to improve your game. With just a ball you can learn to dribble and ball control. Add a hoop and you can practice endless numbers of hours in your driveway. It is a way to exercise, spend time with friends and family or just enjoy some alone time. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the US and with a little practice you may find yourself the star of a local team.
- Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball – Official size 7 (29.5”): http://www.spalding-basketball.com/
- Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball Official: http://www.wilson.com/
- Spalding NBA All Conference Basketball: http://www.spalding-basketball.com/