How to Care for Your Basketball

Cared for correctly, your basketball should survive years’ worth of drives down the floor and highlight reel-worthy shots. Learn how to extend your basketball’s durability and lifespan with these helpful tips.

March 15, 2018

Every basketball player knows you have to get a good grip on the ball. But having a good grip on how to take care of it might be just as important. A basketball that is properly cared for can last much longer than one that isn’t and can be key in the success of your game. With that in mind, use these five tips to avoid common fouls that could affect your basketball’s lifespan.


Leather may have a reputation for being tough, but a leather basketball should be handled with care. Basketballs made with leather are meant for indoor courts only. Surfaces like gravel and concrete can cause damage to your ball by tearing the material apart or flattening the raised surfaces which, over time, can destroy the grip of the ball. When transporting a leather ball outside, it may be tempting to dribble it, but this is one time you will find yourself in trouble if you don’t carry.

Basketballs made of rubber or synthetic materials are better suited for rough outdoor surfaces and will be at less risk for the same type of damage. Using the right type of ball for the court you’re playing on will go a long way in preserving the life of your ball.


It’s much easier to clean the glass if you clean your basketball first. Over time, dust and dirt can make their way into the crevices of your ball. Left untouched, the dust will make your ball slippery – which means passing, shooting and dribbling will be harder. To avoid this, frequently give your ball a quick once-over with a towel.

For a more in-depth cleaning of a leather basketball, you can use a rag dipped in a mixture of water and mild detergent or leather shampoo. But be sure to dry it immediately with an unsoiled towel. Leaving a leather ball wet could destroy its surface.

You can be a little more lenient with your cleaning of rubber and synthetic balls, but as with leather models, do not leave them in damp conditions for long.


If you expose your basketball to the elements for too long, eventually they will expose your basketball. Rain or shine, hot or cold, neither indoor or outdoor basketballs should be left outside in extreme conditions. Any type of wetness can ruin the quality of your ball and make it lose its grip. Severe temperatures can also warp the shape of your ball and affect performance. Even leaving your ball exposed to sunlight can cause it to change colors.


The backboard isn’t the only sweet spot basketball players should focus on. There’s also a sweet spot in terms of air pressure. A general rule of thumb for checking air pressure is to hold the ball above your head and drop it. If it bounces back to about chest height, you’re good to go.

Playing with an over-inflated basketball or pumping it too fast can increase the chances of your ball forming lumps. If you slam an over-inflated ball on the ground or bounce it against the wall, it can increase the chances of the tearing. Meanwhile, an under-inflated ball can be nearly unplayable.


Be mindful of your surroundings while both playing with and storing your basketball, since other objects can cause damage or alter the shape of your ball. If you’re playing outside, try to keep a barrier around the court to avoid anything the ball can potentially ricochet into. Sharp objects can puncture the ball and bodies of water can cause damage.

Store your basketball in a cool, dry place, like a basketball bag. Be sure that nothing is on top of it or pushing on it from any direction. This can change the shape of your ball. Even leaving your ball on a rack for too long may cause it to become ovular rather than round.

Whether you’re looking to casually play in your driveway or train for the big time, taking care of your ball could help you reach the top of your game. These tips can give you the assist in maintaining your basketball’s longevity for years of quality play.