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Although the basketball is seemingly uncomplicated there are many different types and styles that you’ll need to consider when it comes time to make a purchase. With a variety of sizes, construction type and features your possibilities are endless. A good way to simplify the selection process is to focus on how the basketball will be used. For example, some typical uses are:
Child's Toy - Durable and inexpensive, rubber basketballs are less expensive than some other outside toys and can take the abuse of being left outdoors. Youth size basketballs by brands like Nike and Reebok Mini Balls would be a great place to start.
Casual Game Play - For players looking for a good overall basketball on outdoor courts, two options exist: rubber or synthetic leather basketballs. Generally rubber balls are more durable and less expensive, however they often don’t possess the important leather game ball feel. Synthetic leather basketballs from brands like Spalding, Rawlings, Nike and more tend to have a much more delicate feel, but will deteriorate more quickly on rougher surfaces.
Organized League - League players often play indoors and if that’s the case, a leather ball may be the best choice for you from brands like Wilson, Spalding and more. Featuring and improved grip and light feel, leather basketballs are favored by pros and amateurs alike. However if you’re league plays outside, then a good ball with a synthetic covering would last longer and be less expensive.
Selection Tips for Basketballs
With a wide variety of types, brands and features, selecting the right basketball can be challenging. No matter your level of experience, it can’t hurt to get a few tips on sorting through the many basketballs available to find the one that’s right for you:
Choose the Right Size
Basketballs are available in a variety of sizes and should be selected based on several different criteria including the player’s age, physical size and how the ball will be used. Typically, the basketball selection process starts by using the age of the player. Next, physical size is an important factor since it directly impacts the ease with which players can handle the ball. Clearly younger players should be playing with a youth basketball, while female players will need a women’s basketball. Finally, the specific use of the ball should be considered, since basketballs used for shooting drills are often slightly larger than game balls. Here’s a brief explanation of basketball sizes:
Youth 27" - Size 5 used for youthbasketball for boys and girls under 12 years old
Intermediate / Women's 28.5" - Size 6 used for youth basketball for boys and girls over 12 years old and is the official women’s basketball for high school, university and professional levels
Official 29.5" - 30" - Size 7 used for men’s basketball for boys over 15 years old and the official men’s basketballs for high school, university and professional levels
Select a Ball to Meet Your Needs
Basketball can be played on many different types of courts, so when selecting a ball you should try to anticipate your playing conditions. A couple points that you’ll want to consider are:
Indoor vs. Outdoor - Basketballs are constructed for the playing surface, so pick one that is for the type of surface you’ll be playing on. For example, many youth basketball leagues play on both indoor and outdoor courts, so a ball with a composite leather covering may be best. Alternatively, basketballs used exclusively outdoors need greater durability, so a rubber ball may be a better option. Finally, leather basketballs should be selected if you plan on exclusively playing indoors