Tips on buying a basketball

Article by John Matich

If basketball is something you’re interested in taking up, then maximising your game will always come down the simple art of mastering the ball. But before you can do that, you need to know exactly what kind of ball you should get.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Basketball sizes

Basketballs come in 3 different sizes. These are Size 5, Size 6 and Size 7.

Each size determines both the circumference and the weight of the ball. This helps players determine which ball is right for their age and gender and allows them to play with a ball designed to help them best develop their skills.

Although you may want to start playing with the ball the pros use, this might not necessarily be the best ball for you. Instead, opt for one of the following:

If you are below the age of 11 then you will want a Size 5 basketball. This ball comes in at a circumference of 27.75 inches and a weight of 18 ounces.

If you are a woman, or between the ages of 11 and 14 then you will want a Size 6 basketball. This ball comes in at a circumference of 28.5 inches and a weight of 20 ounces.

If you are 14 years or older, you will want a Size 7 basketball. Designed for men, this ball comes in at a circumference of 29.5 inches and a weight of 22 ounces.

Types of basketball

Not all basketballs are alike, and depending on the type of training or play you’re going to be involved in, you may want a different type of ball.

Basketballs are generally broken down into recreation, match, and training, with different builds accompanying each type of ball. Alongside this, balls can also be specified for indoor or outdoor use.

Basketball material

Balls can also be made of different materials, such as genuine or synthetic leather, and rubber. Each of which has different qualities.

Pro basketballs are made out of genuine leather, which, although expensive, provides an enhanced level of grip that balls made out of other materials can’t match. It doesn’t matter if your hands are heavily sweating, the ball will still retain a solid level of grip. However, these balls should never be used outside as concrete or tarmac will rapidly destroy them. It’s also worth noting that they also need to be pre-bounced before they truly shine. As an example of this, Olympic basketballs are bounced over 400 times before being played.

At the other end of the scale, there are rubber basketballs, which excel at outdoor court play. Due to their durability and added bounce, they’re a great option for beginners looking to gain some experience or enjoy casual play.

For a middle ground, synthetic balls can be used in both indoor and outdoor courts, and still retain a solid level of grip due to their high level of durability. For indoor play, they may scuff the court a slight amount (something genuine leather doesn’t do), but it’s nothing that can’t be cleaned.

Basketball brands

There are many different brands of basketball, but if you’re looking for quality, pick one of these brands:

  • Spalding
  • Wilson
  • Molten
  • Nike
  • Reebok
  • Lusum
  • Baden

Each makes great basketballs, and, provided you get the right size and type, they will be a long-lasting, and well-suited basketball for your training.

One important thing to note is that although all these balls are of high quality, they come at various prices – with some, like Wilson or Spalding, being slightly higher due to licensing agreements with basketball governing bodies. They generally have the similar levels of quality though.


Here are my recommended basketball balls: