Arguably the most important piece of equipment when playing basketball is the actual basketball itself. This piece of equipment has been the fundamental tool ever since basketball was created. Basketballs come in many different sizes and materials, and there is a lot to learn about them.

What are basketballs used for?

A basketball is a spherical ball that is usually made of rubber or leather. While they vary in material, they also vary in size as well depending on age of the user and gender. The official size ball that is used in the NBA as well as all men's high school and collegiate leagues is a standard 29.5" circumference ball. The typical size for all women's leagues is 28.5". Basketballs are also made by a vast number of different brands, most notably Spalding, Nike, Wilson, and many others.

Basketballs are important to the game as they are used for possession and scoring. The team with the ball has "possession". When they shoot the ball into the net they earn points for their team. The ball can be passed to teammates, shot at the hoop, and dribbled up and down the court. Understanding the purpose of a basketball is important when choosing which one to get.

Things To Consider

When looking for a basketball, you'll want to consider the following:

  • What size basketball are you looking for?
  • How much are you looking to spend on a basketball?
  • Will you be using your basketball indoors or outdoors?
  • Where will you be playing basketball?
  • How long would you like your basketball to last?


Depending on what surface you will be using to play on, different types and materials of basketballs may be required.


indoor basketballs

Indoor basketballs are typically the most common as well as the most expensive. These are usually made of leather and offer the best grip and feel to the athlete. Since indoor balls are usually played on a polished wooden floor, the leather stays in great condition over time. These balls are seen as the highest quality and are used in almost all sports leagues.


outdoor basketballs

Since outdoor basketball is typically played on concrete or other rough surfaces, outdoor balls are usually made of rubber. Unlike indoor balls, these balls focus more on longevity and durability instead of attaining the best possible feel. Since outdoor balls are made with cheaper materials, they tend to be less expensive than indoor balls.


hybrid basketballs

Hybrid basketballs are a mixture of indoor and outdoor basketballs. They are intended to be played on either surface and mix elements of both balls to make a more multi-purpose ball. These balls tend to have composite leather, which has a similar feel to indoor balls and is also durable on outdoor courts.

Swimming Pool Basketballs

swimming pool basketballs

Swimming pool basketballs are made specifically to be used in a poolside basketball hoop. They are usually made of a synthetic plastic material and are much lighter than regular basketballs. They are also waterproof and can range in any size of ball. Swimming pool basketballs tend to be the cheapest.


Synthetic basketballs are similar to hybrid basketballs in that they are both made of a composite material. The NBA tried to implement these microfiber synthetic basketballs because they proved to be slightly more consistent than traditional leather balls and were thought to have a better grip and feel. NBA players nonetheless preferred the traditional balls and synthetic balls were never again reintroduced.


When considering what basketball to buy, there are multiple factors that go into account.


Basketballs can last a long time depending on usage. Leather basketballs will typically be the least durable, especially if used outdoors or on a rough surface. Rubber or synthetic balls are generally the most durable and can be used on any surface without risk of ruining the ball.


Most basketballs will range anywhere from $30 to $70. Leather balls and official balls can cost even more than that. Synthetic and rubber balls are usually cheaper than leather balls. Some brands like Spalding or Wilson are more expensive as their brands have come to be associated with the highest quality basketballs.


basketball ball sizes

An official men's basketball has a 29.5" circumference. This is the most commonly used basketball and is used by teenage boys and men. Women's basketballs are usually 28.5" and are used for almost all women. Youth basketballs tend to be even smaller. Every ball will have the size of its circumference somewhere on the outer layer of the ball.


There are three main types of materials that each basketball is made of:

  • Leather: Leather is the most common material used on indoor courts and sports leagues. It provides the best feel and highest quality.
  • Rubber: Rubber is usually the material associated with outdoor basketballs. This material is used primarily for its durability on hard, rough surfaces rather than feel.
  • Synthetic Rubber: Synthetic rubber is a mixture of leather and rubber. It can be used on either court and has a similar feel to leather while also remaining durable.


There are many different brands that specialize in making different types of basketballs.

  • Franklin: Franklin tends to be known for their more affordable basketballs. The majority of their balls use synthetic materials.
  • Spalding: Spalding is the provider of all of the NBA's basketballs. They were also the first company to have one of their balls be officially used.
  • Wilson: Wilson is known for their Evolution indoor basketball as well as supplying the balls for the NCAA March Madness tournament.

What are the best basketballs?


What size basketball do they use in the NBA?

The NBA uses size 7 balls which are 29.5" in circumference. These are the same size basketballs that are used by all males over the age of 13. This is the most commonly used size basketball.

How much does a basketball cost?

Basketballs typically range from $30-70, but can cost even more or less depending on the quality. Synthetic and rubber basketballs are usually much cheaper than leather and can be purchased for around $20. The price of the basketball will always depend on material, brand and where you are buying it from.

What are the different kinds of basketballs?

The three main types of basketballs are indoor, outdoor, and synthetic or hybrid basketballs. Indoor balls are made of high quality leather and tend to have the best feel and response of any ball. Outdoor balls are most commonly made out of rubber and focus on durability over feel. Synthetic balls aim to mix the best elements of indoor and outdoor balls by creating a feel similar to leather balls while also being able to be used on outdoor courts.