When you’re thinking about getting a new ball, how do you decide what’s the best outdoor basketball? Everyone knows the experience is totally different outside versus inside. The material of the ball, the bounce of the rim, even the elements play a factor. Well let’s figure out how to create the best situation for you to dominate on that outdoor court and never worry about the quality of your basketball.
We’re going to talk first about what size you need, because age and gender determine the best size first. Then, we’ll analyze how each material fairs outside so you can always have the edge. By the end, you’ll definitely know which basketball brand is right for you.
- 1 Size Chart:
- 2 What Material Do I Want For The Best Outdoor Basketball?
- 3 Top 5 Best Outdoor Basketballs:
- 4 What To Look For In A Great Outdoor Basketball
- 5 What Extras Should You Consider?
- 6 The Ball Is In Your Court:
Basketball Size Recommended For Size 7 - Official
Size 6 - Intermediate
Women Age 12+
Boys Age 9-12
Size 5 - Junior
Size 3 - Mini
Size 7 – Official size for men’s high school, college, and NBA
Size 6 – Official size for women’s high school, college, and WNBA
Size 5 – Standard size for youth organized basketball
What Material Do I Want For The Best Outdoor Basketball?
So now you know what size you need, next we need to investigate what type of material you want on the outside of the ball. This is extremely important since the materials will feel different in your hand (thus affecting shooting and dribbling) and will also impact the life of the ball. It’s be such a waste to buy an expensive ball with the wrong material and have it last 2 weeks because you chose the wrong type for an outdoor ball.
Synthetic Leather (AKA Composite Leather)
Synthetic leather came about as an alternative to the traditional leather used in indoor basketballs. Although not as nice as traditional leather, it is much tougher and can withstand a beating outside. It can even work in rain as it will not absorb moisture. It can easily be used and abused on concrete or asphalt courts. This type is quickly becoming a favorite among outdoor ballers.
Rubber is the original material for outdoor basketballs. It’s the ultimate in durability and give you more of the “ping” sound when you bounce it. Although it can be a bit slippery when new, it will wear in just fine and give good grip soon enough.
Top 5 Best Outdoor Basketballs:
Basketball Material Sizes
Rating Number of
Spalding NBA Replica
Indoor/Outdoor Game Ball
Composite Leather 6
(4.4 / 5) 35 $$ Here
Spalding NBA Street Ball
(4.2 / 5) 1,338 $ Here
Spalding NBA Outdoor
Varsity Street Ball
(4.4 / 5) 192 $$ Here
Wilson NCAA MVP Rubber Ball
(4.3 / 5) 37 $ Here
Molten BGM6 Indoor/Outdoor Ball
Composite Leather 5
(4.2 / 5) 69 $$ Here
Spalding NBA Indoor/Outdoor Replica Game Ball
Spalding definitely makes a high quality ball and one of the only balls that qualified for multiple lists. Although it is technically an indoor and outdoor basketball, it has received extremely high regards for it’s feel and grip when players are outside.
In fact, most people have complimented this ball saying that it makes the outside game feel more like an inside game. That is one common thread with people choosing indoor/outdoor balls as their primary outside ball. The composite leather feels more natural than rubber and gives a better touch for players who on both surfaces.
Plus, we all know Spaulding is the official ball of the NBA, so they would know how to make the outdoor game feel just like the indoors. This ball has received some good reviews overall. Of all reviews checked, 66% rated it as 5 out of 5 and another 20% rated 4 out of 5.
Spalding NBA Street Ball
As the official street ball of the NBA, this ball is hard to pass up if you are an exclusive outdoor baller. The rubber on this ball is top quality and provides a great feel for those comfortable with rubber.
It has very wide channel design to provide maximum grip potential and was created to withstand the toughest outside elements.
Some negative reviews claimed that the ball wasn’t purely round and impacted how it bounced. These negative reviews were somewhat rare, but you should know about them just in case.
However, it is an extremely attractive price so you can decide if the slight change in style is worth the price drop.This ball has been well rated. Of all reviews checked, 65% rated the ball 5 out of 5 and another 16% rated 4 out of 5.
Spalding NBA Varsity Outdoor Ball
This is a very versatile rubber ball all around. It comes in multiple colors which makes for easy customization depending on the person. Many of the reviews spoke highly of purchasing the Intermediate size ball for kids playing outside and having lots of good experiences with it.
It is at a very reasonably price point making for a great gift idea. Some negative reviews commented on the valve falling inside the basketball after a few months of use. Most people had great longevity with the ball and enjoyed it for months.
The reviews on this ball have been well documented. Of all reviews checked, 68% rated the ball a 5 out of 5 and another 16% rated it 4 out of 5.
Wilson NCAA MVP Rubber Ball
Wilson created an Optima rubber for this ball to increase performance and life on the rough outdoor courts. It also comes with the Super Wide Channel design by Wilson for increased control and grip. However, there have been mixed comments about the ball losing grip after a few months of use. This tends to be common in outdoor basketballs, but it is good to be aware. With the price relatively cheap, it can still be a good value.
Reviews for this ball were quite positive overall. Of all reviews checked, 68% rated the ball 5 out of 5 and another 5% rated it 4 out of 5.
Molten BGM Indoor/Outdoor Ball
This ball by Molten is actually FIBA approved and comes with a 1 year manufacturer warranty. That should give some peace of mind that it is high quality with the approval and it will be replaced if defective. With it’s two-tone design and all three major sizes readily available, this ball can be a great compliment to those who play on multiple surfaces.
However, some reviews did note that the outer layer grip faded rather quickly when the ball was extensively use outside. It is slightly more expensive than some of the other outdoor balls on the list, but if you are looking for the more official international versions of basketball, this could be the one.
What To Look For In A Great Outdoor Basketball
Many things come to mind when you consider buying the best outdoor basketball. Here’s what we look for:
- Good grip
- True bounce
- Round shape
- Stays inflated for a long time
- Durable on concrete and blacktop
Grip is probably one of the most important aspects in any basketball regardless of indoor or outdoors. Outdoor basketballs need grip considering you’re usually playing on surfaces that don’t have great traction. Bounce and shape are closely related. A ball that isn’t truly round obviously won’t bounce well for you. But a ball that has great bounce can also have a bad shape. You need both a consistent round shape and excellent bounce.
Inflation can be a big factor in outdoor balls. Nothing is more frustrating than having to pump up the ball every time you step outside to play. You need a basketball that can withstand a few weeks of play without losing air. That’s where a quality basketball comes in and this list is all quality.
Lastly, you’ll need to consider durability. Outdoor play is very rough on a basketball. Rubber can withstand quite a beating before it shows significant wear, but synthetics usually don’t last as long. There is typically a trade off between the two. Synthetic balls will often feel better, have better initial grip, and have great shape. But rubber balls usually bounce better, have better grip long term, are cheaper and are more durable to last a few years. Choose the material that suits you.
What Extras Should You Consider?
Well outdoor basketballs don’t need a ton of extras, but here’s just a few things to consider.
First, always have a ball pump with you. It sounds like common sense, but I see it happen all the time where people show up to play and the ball is flat. No one ever has a pump. So be that guy who’s prepared to save the day. We like this simple pump because it’s cheap and effective.
Next, consider putting the ball in a plastic bag when it’s not being used. Yes it’s an outdoor ball and it will get dirty, but why get it dirtier than necessary? These plastic bags are cheap and worth the investment.
Lastly, we always like having towels when we play outdoors. It’s just nice having them for sweat but also to keep the ball cleaner. It always stinks to drop the ball in a puddle or mud pile and have nothing to help. These towels are simple and small so they’re very portable.
The Ball Is In Your Court:
So now you’ve seen the top 5 best outdoor basketball options, but don’t hesitate to do your own research. Ask around if you have friends or family that have a preferred basketball they love and find out why. Don’t be tempted by price, both low and high.
Low price does not necessarily mean super cheap quality and vice versa. This can be one of the most beneficial choices of your game because the proper ball will help when you’re practicing ball handling and shooting. The wrong choice can throw you slightly off when you get in a spot with someone using the correct basketball. Don’t forget about using good protection while playing. Good ankle braces and good knee braces are just as effective at preventing injuries as they are helping players who’ve had them. Good luck and go dominate!