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Best Basketballs for Indoor and Outdoor Use

Growing up, there was nothing like the smell of a brand new basketball. The outdoor only basketballs had a smell that was almost like the new car smell, which was great. My favorite smell, however, was of a brand new composite leather basketball for indoor play. Add that to the feel of the ball in your hands or the weight of its dribble and you had yourself a moment of perfection.

Time may have gone by, as it does for us all, but there are still dreams of thunderous dunks, graceful layups, and the last second three-point shot to win a championship in the best basketballs. Find the right basketball and you’ll bring your game to the next level.

The Best Indoor/Outdoor Basketballs

PictureNameOur RatingSizePrice
PictureNameOur RatingSizePrice
Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball 4.4
7
$$$$
Wilson NCAA Replica Game Basketball 4.1
7
$$
Under Armour 395 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
4.2
6
$$
Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball
4.6
6
$$$$
Baden Crossover Flex Composite Basketball
4.4
7
$$
Spalding NBA Indoor/Outdoor Replica Game Ball
4.4
7
$$$
Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball
4.5
6
$$
Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor Youth Basketball
4.4
5
$$
Gumiho Indoor/Outdoor Micro-Fiber Leather Basketball 4.4
7
$$$$
Spalding NBA Street Basketball
4.3
7
$

The Best Outdoor Basketballs

PictureNameOur RatingShell MaterialPrice
PictureNameOur RatingShell MaterialPrice
Spalding NBA Varsity Outdoor Basketball
4.4
Rubber
$
Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
4.2
Composite
$$$
Gumiho Adult Training Professional Street Ball
4.6
PU Leather
$$$
Mikasa BX1000 Premium Basketball
4.3
Rubber
$$$
Molten X-Series FIBA Approved Basketball
4.0
Synthetic
$$$
Spalding NBA Street Phantom Outdoor Basketball
4.3
Rubber
$$
Under Armour Stephen Curry Official Size Basketball
5.0
Rubber
$$
Wilson Wave Phenom Basketball
4.0
Rubber
$$
Spalding NBA Street Basketball
4.3
Rubber
$
Spalding NBA Varsity Neon Basketball
4.2
Rubber
$$

There might not seem like much of a difference between an indoor basketball and one that is designed for outdoor play, but there really is. The texture of the ball, how it dribbles, and even your ball handling changes between indoor/outdoor and outdoor only basketballs. The durability needed for a basketball in a gym is also different than that of a basketball on the street.

These are the best basketballs in both categories that will help you practice and play every day because of their consistent performance.

 

What Is the Difference Between an Indoor Basketball and an Outdoor Basketball?

The primary difference between indoor basketballs and outdoor basketballs is the material used for the ball itself. Most indoor-only basketballs are made from a full-grain leather, which is the best smell in the world. When you first use these basketballs, they tend to be a bit slick on the hand. You need to break them in and then continue to condition them in order to receive a consistent performance.

Outdoor basketballs need to stand up to different environments, so they need to be tougher. They must deal with concrete, asphalt, or composite surfaces instead of a wooden floor gym. This means many outdoor only basketballs are made from rubber, making the basketball feel a little heavier than normal.

A good compromise between these two extremes is the indoor/outdoor basketball. These are typically made from composite leather, so it is more durable than an indoor basketball on surfaces that are different than a gym. It also feels and reacts naturally, unlike some rubber balls that tend to have some extra bounce to them.

Choosing the Right Size of Basketball: 3 Facts You Need to Know

Basketballs today come in all different shapes and sizes. Some of the cheaper rubber basketballs even put some fun graphics onto the basketball. If you just want a basketball for fun, then choosing the right size doesn’t really matter.

If you’re ready to take your game to the next level, however, you’ll need to grab the correct size of basketball for your next practice session. Players develop muscle memory based on the weight, feel, and flight of the basketball. If you use one size to practice and then another size for your games, then bricks are going to fly.

There are three standard basketball sizes that are generally offered for sale today.

  • Size 5. These basketballs are generally for youth players. They are generally 27.5 inches in diameter and weigh 18 ounces.
  • Size 6. These basketballs are for teen boys and all women’s competitions. This basketball is 28.5 inches in diameter and weighs 20 ounces.
  • Size 7. This is the standard basketball for men’s collegiate, NCAA, and professional competitions. It measures 29.5 inches in diameter and weighs 22 ounces.

Choosing the right size of basketball at an early age helps to develop the dribbling and shooting mechanics properly. A smaller ball with smaller hands helps players to learn control and maneuverability.

What Basketball Brands Are the Best to Buy?

There are several basketball brands that are worth considering today. Here are some of the biggest names in the industry that are worth looking at.

#1. Spalding. Spalding has been manufacturing sporting equipment since 1876. They have been the official NBA basketball partner since 1983. You’ll find a variety of indoor/outdoor basketballs and outdoor only basketballs that will suit the specific needs of each player.

#2. Wilson. If you didn’t grow up playing with a Spalding basketball, then there’s a good chance you had one from this brand. Wilson basketballs are now used quite often in high school sports thanks to their unique grip and removal of the traditional rubber channels.

#3. Nike. Although Nike basketballs are somewhat rare in the United States for competitive purposes, they are the primary game ball for many international leagues. You’ll find one of the widest selections of recreational and street basketballs with this brand.

#4. Molten. If you’re looking for a FIBA-style basketball, then this is the brand you’re going to want. Look for the Elite series of basketballs from this Japanese manufacturer for the best results. There are also several good casual-use basketballs for sale with this brand.

How Much Do the Best Indoor Outdoor Basketballs Cost?

If you’re shopping for a new basketball today, it is important to consider quality above anything else. A high quality basketball can give you years of practice and play. Cheap basketballs can save you money now, but you’ll likely need to replace the entry-level basketballs by the end of the season.

The best indoor basketballs tend to be priced between $50-$100. Outdoor only basketballs tend to be a little cheaper thanks to their composition, so you’ll find several options priced between $15-$30. Composite leather basketballs that are for indoor and outdoor use are usually in the $40-$75 price range.

What Are the Best Indoor/Outdoor Basketballs?

Baden Crossover

Cylinder reaction was good from an indoor and an outdoor perspective. The type of backboard being used, however, did somewhat dictate the experience of using this basketball once again. If you’re using an acrylic or polycarbonate backboard, we found that this ball would give us a superior reaction compared to other basketballs. For a tempered glass backboard, the reaction was much less than we’d expect.

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Wilson Evolution

The grip on this composite leather basketball is about as close to the feeling as you’ll get to the older leather basketballs. No matter where you happen to grab the ball, you’ll have the right grip to take your shot. The touchpoints give you the control you need. We also like the channels that have been built into this basketball. They’re promoted as “moisture-wicking channels,” but in reality, it reinforces the grip that you receive from the pebble touchpoints. The depth is just right, allowing you to put on the proper spin during a layup so you can kiss the glass with ease.

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Under Armour 395

Although the composite leather is fairly durable, we found that the structure of the ball is built more for an indoor court. It doesn’t take much for this basketball to begin scuffing up and becoming slick to the hand, even if you are using it on a well-maintained park basketball court. If you have one of the best backyard composite tile outdoor courts, however, this basketball maintains itself pretty well. Just beware: the “395” logo on the ball is a unique feeling on the hand, especially if you’re trying to go up for a touch shot.

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Wilson NCAA

If you grew up in the days of the genuine leather basketball, then your complaints about this composite leather cover are going to be the same as they would be for any other similar ball. The reaction of this ball is a little different from real leather, but it is comparable to the professional-quality basketballs that are on the market today. Rim reaction, dribbling, and passing are all consistent thanks to the structure of this basketball. “Cushion Core Technology” gives you the feeling of a genuine leather basketball when passing or shooting.

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Spalding Zi/O

The grip on the ball does tend to smooth out over time, especially if you are primarily using the ball in an outdoor environment. We found the cover tends to scratch up a bit, especially if you’re using the ball on a surface that can be somewhat gritty. The seams maintain a good air seal during practice or game play so that you don’t wind up playing with a partially deflated ball.

If you’re a driveway player and this ball could come into contact with gravel, you might want to consider a cover that contains a harder surface.

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What Are the Best Outdoor Only Basketballs?

Molten FIBA

Shooting is just one skill that players need in the modern game of basketball. Rebounding is also required. Knowing how to box out properly is important, but so is being able to track the rotation of a ball. When you can see how a ball is going to react in the cylinder before it gets there, it becomes possible to anticipate where the rebound location will be. That tracking ability is called “having a nose for the ball.” The X-design on the synthetic cover of this basketball makes it easier for beginning rebounders to track its rotation. By watching the rotation as it hits the cylinder, players can then see how the ball reacts and where its movement will take it.

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Mikasa BX1000

If you’re working with kids to build basic basketball skills, like dribbling drills, passing drills, and game familiarity, then the value of this entry-level basketball becomes very clear. You’ll get a consistent reaction from the ball that will help kids begin to pick-up the game. The ball also looks pretty good, which makes the kids want to play some basketball as well. It’s a premium rubber basketball is a good quality for the price when looking at it from the perspective of a school, youth program, or for a home recreational need. Serious players may need to step up to a different ball.

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XGumiho

We found the bounce of this basketball to be consistent on a variety of surfaces. It does the best on a wooden surface, but it performs almost the same way on concrete. If you’re just getting started with the game, you’re not even going to notice the difference. In return, you’re given the opportunity to train your game wherever you happen to be at the time. Over time, the ball does become slick with use. It has a comparable longevity to other basketballs of this quality and type.

The weight of the ball is about what you’d expect it to be, though we felt the ball seemed a little light in comparison and the outside shooting brought about rebounds that were a bit longer than normal.

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Under Armour 495

Many outdoor basketballs don’t give you the same feel of gameplay that indoor basketballs tend to provide. Because of this, they’re often treated as a recreational ball at best. The look, feel, and bounce of the Under Armour 495 is authentic in every way, even when it is being used in an outdoor environment. It feels just as good at the park or in the driveway as it does when you bring it to the gym.

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Spalding NBA Varsity

The replicated pebble grip on the rubber cover is very similar to that of a composite leather ball. Even when the basketball is wet, you’re still going to feel some grip on the ball. You still have dribbling and passing control as well. It really is remarkably easy to hold, no matter what the conditions may be outside. It also provides a consistent reaction in cold weather. It doesn’t feel like you’re throwing up a weighted brick toward the rim and you still receive a good rebound opportunity if you happen to shoot a brick.

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The best basketballs for indoor or outdoor use will help you improve your game in a wide variety of ways. Select the ball that best meets your needs today, whether you hit the gym or your driveway, and then be prepared to have some fun.

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