Let Us Help You Find the Best Basketball Ball for Outdoor Use
The best basketball to buy is truly dependent on your usage. When playing outdoors, a regulation leather ball will get beat up and ripped quickly, making it an overall bad investment for any recreational use.
Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
Our favorite for 2017
Spalding NBA Varsity Outdoor Rubber Basketball
A great value option
Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
Promises great bounce, feel, and grip
And while the NBA uses leather balls during gameplay, they’re also dealing with teams that have hundreds of millions to billions in revenue, so paying top dollar for a basketball isn’t a concern.
When us mere mortals play the game, there are a few ball characteristics you’ll want to look for:
- Leather, Composite or Rubber: The material of the ball matters a lot. Composite balls are a good choice for indoor use, and rubber excels outdoors due to the ruggedness and durability of the material. Leather is a lot better during professional gameplay because fewer scratches occur.
- Texture: The texture, or pebbles, on the ball need to allow for a proper grip when the ball is handled, passed or dribbled. If the ball doesn’t have these pebbles or uses an inferior texturing, it can slip out of your hands easily.
- Indoor or Outdoor Use: Balls meant for only indoor use shouldn’t be used outside. The problem is that the material isn’t meant for hard surfaces, such as pavement. While you can play on occasion outside with an indoor ball, it will take too much damage over the long-term.
If you want the real deal and will be playing indoors, nothing beats a leather basketball. But these balls can be very costly, so a lot of people with go with synthetic leather and composite material, which is almost as good as leather and won’t make a huge difference unless playing professionally.
Our Picks for the Best Outdoor Basketballs
Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball – The Spalding NBA Zi/O is an affordable, regulation size basketball. This ball has a radius of 29. 5” and is an official size 7. The weight is also up to the official standards of the NBA, so when you shoot hoops, you’ll be using a ball that Lebron would be proud to use.
Manufactured for indoor and outdoor use, this ball is made from Zi/O composite leather.
This is the major difference between professional balls and this ball. The NBA introduced synthetic leather in 2006, but players found the ball to be too rough and ended up with cuts on their hands.
For recreational use, this is the ideal ball.
Spalding NBA Varsity Outdoor Rubber Basketball – Designed specifically for outdoor use, this Spalding ball varies in cost, depending on the design (6 in total) and the size of the ball. There is a regulation size ball available as well as an intermediate size ball. The difference is the regulation ball is 29.5,” while the intermediate ball is 28.5”.
A traditional rubber surface is offered, too, and this allows for rugged, outdoor usage.
The ball is shipped inflated, but from personal experience, you may need to inflate the ball further, as most seem to come underinflated. A textured exterior allows for a superb grip, and the rubber provides a nice bounce on concrete and outdoor courts.
Spalding NBA Street Phantom Outdoor Basketball – The NBA Street Phantom is one of the hottest outdoor basketballs on the market today. This ball comes in a variety of wild colors, including: neon green/black, neon blue/black, neon yellow/black and neon orange/black.
Featuring the official NBA size and weight, this ball comes in size 7, or 29.5.”
What’s unique about this ball, is that it uses durable soft grip technology that curbs cuts on the hands during play and provides an exceptional performance on the court.
If you plan on playing at outdoor courts, the unique design also helps you keep track of your ball – it’s one of the best designs we’ve ever seen. Keep in mind that this is a rubber ball, and it does come inflated.
Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball – Under Armour is trying to offer a top-of-the-line basketball, and the 495 is one of the best balls on the market as a result. This ball varies in cost depending on size. Sizes of Youth (5), Intermediate (6) and Official (7) are offered.
This ball features a UA Gripskin composite that is the company’s own brand of composite material.
The deep channel design allows for full pebbling for a superb grip, while the 80% nylon windings are great for overall shape retention. Air is kept inside the ball with the 100% butyl bladder that traps air inside, so it doesn’t deflate mid-game.
This is a great ball for rugged, everyday use indoors and outdoors.
Under Armour 395 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball – The final item on our list also comes from Under Armour, and this can be seen as the “little brother” of the 495. An attainable model, this basketball offers the same UA Gripskin composite material for an unmatched grip whether indoors or outdoors.
The main difference between the two is that this ball has 70% nylon windings, which doesn’t hold the ball retention to quite the same degree as the 495. Sizes youth to official are also offered (5,6,7).
A 100% butyl bladder is featured, which keeps air inside of the ball even when dribbled on concrete. For kids, this is a great overall ball that can be used indoors and outdoors.
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Right Option from All the Good Basketballs On the Market
There are a lot of basketballs on the market, and it’s hard to choose among them all. If kids are going to play once a month with their friends, it doesn’t make sense to get the highest priced basketball on the market.
But if the kids are going to play often, you also don’t want a ball that deflates quickly and will ruin their fun over the long-term.
When choosing a basketball, there are a few things to consider that will make your choice easier:
- Price: You should expect to pay a reasonable amount for a decent ball. The good news is you can get a superb outdoor ball without breaking the bank. If you’re tight on cash, the budget options will suffice, but they may deflate faster which, will require more frequent inflation.
- Size: The size of the ball is important, and it doesn’t make sense for a 6-year-old to use a regulation ball if they can’t handle it properly. Make sure that you choose the right size basketball for the person that will be using the ball.
- Bladder: Pay attention to any mention of an internal bladder. A bladder is what will hold the air inside the ball, allowing it to stay inflated for longer periods of time. While air will still escape, a high quality bladder will keep you from having to inflate the ball often.
If you consider all of these points, you’ll be on your way to finding a high-quality basketball that is ideal for outdoor use.