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While anyone may think that any ball is good enough, you may be surprised that some balls are better than others. The best outdoor basketball can withstand the harsh weather conditions and rough surfaces of the outdoor game. To help find the right outdoor basketball for you, we have compiled a list of quality basketball reviews along with this buying guide.
- Our Top Outdoor Basketball Reviews
- What Makes a Good Outdoor Basketball?
- Wrap Up
Our Top Outdoor Basketball Reviews
Best Overall Outdoor Basketball: Spalding NBA Zi/O
The Spalding NBA Zi/O ball is an outdoor and indoor basketball, which makes it an excellent choice for people that want to save money by just buying one ball. Its cover is foam-backed to give it a soft feel that you may appreciate. This ball also boasts of tight pebbling that gives it a good grip for dribbling and shooting.
When this basketball is inflated to 7 PSI, it is quite bouncy, so the basketball’s air pressure does not need to be high if you want to achieve a good bounce. This is a plus because pumping your ball excessively can cause leaks or even break the bladder inside.
This ball’s bounce remains consistent, this means you can expect it to land where you want without any issues. The Zi/O outdoor basketball features a deep, narrow channel design. This makes lining it up for a jump shot easy and also helps you dribble the ball effortlessly.
In addition, the ball has full pebbling to help you avoid making contact with the smoothest part of the cover when using it. The pebbling provides moisture wicks that absorb the sweat on your hands while you play. Moisture-wicking is a great feature as it prevents the ball from becoming slippery when your hands begin to sweat.
Pebbling also provides an excellent grip while ensuring the ball feels comfortable in your hands. Unlike the channels of most basketball’s that are usually pebbled, the channels of this ball are not pebbled.
The Spalding basketball is designed both for league play and leisure games. Its design also looks like that of an official NBA Game Ball and is perfect for outdoor and indoor surfaces. The high durability of this basketball makes transitioning between surfaces a breeze and prevents the cover of this ball from becoming too rough.
If you use it exclusively on an outdoor court, it will wear down quickly because it’s made of composite leather. However, you can still use it for a few years as the quality won’t decrease greatly. While the ball performs better than indoor composite basketballs, the grip tends to smoothen out quickly after a short period.
The Spalding NBA basketball has the official size 7, which makes it useful, especially when you are training for a competition as it will give you the ultimate feel of basketballs used in actual competitions. A concern we discovered while testing this ball is that its edges are poorly glued. We noticed that some of its outer covers came off easily while in use. This is not a big issue; however, over time, it can widen and affect the feel of the ball.
What We Like
- Tight pebbling for good grip and consistent bounce
- Deep, narrow channel design that helps in dribbling
- Does not deflate when temperatures increase
- Outdoor and indoor ball
- Ideal for league and leisure games
What We Don’t Like
- Picks up a lot of dirt that does not come off easily
- Costs more than other outdoor balls
- Poorly glued edges
- Official NBA size and weight: Size 7, 29.5 inch
- Zi/O Tournament composite cover
- Foam backed design for excellent feel
Best Outdoor Basketball for the Money: Molten X-Series
The Molten X Series outdoor/indoor basketball comes with a 12-panel design both for practical and aesthetic purposes. The design enhances visibility to allow you to track the backspin effortlessly without straining. It also makes the basketball more visible to spectators.
The pebbling is not random. As such, each pebble is aligned strategically to ensure you enjoy a consistent touch regardless of where you choose to hold it. Most Molten basketballs usually have a spongy and rubbery feel. However, the feel on this ball is not soft.
On dry, clean courts, this outdoor basketball offers an excellent grip for dribbling and shooting. When the surface is wet, the ball becomes slippery on the release, which makes it difficult to have a consistent feel for shooting. Additionally, the ball performs poorly when dirty or dusty. Since this basketball features many channels, you would expect it to give an inconsistent bounce.
However, the Molten outdoor basketball allows for a consistent bounce as it has a smooth surface while the grooves are quite shallow. This ball also boasts of a Butyl bladder that helps it keep air pressure longer. However, it tends to lose air pressure quickly when compared to the Spalding Zi/O basketball.
One good thing about this ball is that you can purchase it in three sizes: Size 5 for kids, Size 6 (Intermediate), and the official Size 7. So, you can get the sizes in one place without having to look in different places.
The ball is also highly durable; however, its retention of air pressure is not that great. You will have to keep pumping the ball more than other basketballs, which can be a tiresome task. This may be something you may need to watch out for if you plan to use the ball consistently against hard surfaces like concrete.
The X-Series basketball also has synthetic covering to provide an excellent grip and does not absorb water. Another great thing is that you can use this ball in any environment. The only issue is that it feels softer than typical outdoor/indoor balls.
In addition, its pebble pattern wears down quicker than the traditional pebble design. This makes the ball more suitable for outdoor use with smooth surfaces as it will wear down faster when used in rough environments.
It’s also important to mention that dirty or wet surfaces affect the ball’s grip. Unlike the Spalding Zi/O outdoor basketball, the Molten-X Series ball comes deflated, which makes it not game-ready.
What We Like
- Approved by FIBA (Federation International Basketball Association)
- Provides high visibility in low light conditions
- Synthetic leather material for added durability
- 12-panel construction and consistent bounce
- Available in three sizes
What We Don’t Like
- Dirty or wet surfaces affect the ball’s grip
- The ball arrives unpumped
- Losses air pressure quickly
- FIBA Approved
- Indoor/ Outdoor Synthetic Cover
- Butyl Bladder
Best Cheap Outdoor Basketball: Mikasa BX-1000
Unlike other models, the Mikasa BX1000 outdoor basketball comes inflated. So you can hit the court and start playing immediately after its arrival. That being said, you may want to pump the ball a little as it doesn’t come fully inflated.
While it’s a rubber basketball, it’s still a great choice, especially if you are searching for cheap outdoor basketball. The ball comes in different sizes, which makes it ideal for your children as well.
The ball boasts of a quality, robust rubber cover that makes it resistant to abrasion. Unlike other outdoor balls that develop dents and cracks after a short period of use, this basketball can survive rough outdoor courts for many years. The surface of this basketball features a deep pebble design that ensures the ball has an excellent grip, which helps in ball handling and control.
One good thing about the ball’s grip is that it remains firm even when you are playing in rainy or cold weather. The Mikasa basketball also ensures you don’t lose your grip when the ball is dusty or dirty. This is a rare characteristic that you won’t find in many other outdoor basketballs.
The channels on this ball are not very deep; however, this minor flaw is compensated for by the grip on the pebbling. As such, you will get the rotation on this basketball from the pebbled surface. The ball’s rotation is also steady and is slightly lighter compared to the competition basketballs.
Another positive thing about the Mikasa BX-1000 outdoor basketball is that it has a consistent bounce. It’s also important to mention that the size of the ball depends on its inflation. So, when you achieve what you think could be the right bounce, the ball might be slightly underinflated.
This is because the basketball’s cover tends to amplify the intensity of bounce. That’s why you may want to pump more air into the basketball to enable it to reach the right circumference. This is crucial because using an underinflated ball can increase its damage risk.
Like other basketballs we have reviewed here, this ball comes in different sizes. Apart from the official Size 7, 29.5 inches, you can also opt for Size 4, 25.5 inches (Elementary), Size 5, 27.5 inches (Youth), and Size 6, 28.5 inches (Compact). This wide selection from Mikasa helps cater to requirements of different genders and ages while solving basketball needs.
This BX-1000 basketball is an ideal option if you are training children that are familiarizing themselves with the basketball game and learning basic game skills like passing and dribbling.
The ball has an attractive design and also gives a consistent bounce, which reduces the learning curve for children as it helps them master the game of basketball easily and quickly. However, expert players need a higher performance ball as the Mikasa ball is only suitable for recreational use.
What We Like
- Durable rubber cover that makes the ball abrasion-resistant
- Deep pebble design that provides a good grip
- Excellent grip even during cold weather
- Great handling and control
- Consistent bounce
What We Don’t Like
- Channels are not very deep
- Requires break-in
- Quality rubber cover
- Nylon winding ensures long wear and consistent bounce
- Please specify size when ordering
Best Lightweight Outdoor Basketball: Spalding NBA Neverflat Hexagrip
If you are looking for a ball that addresses the issue of inflation, you may find the Spalding NBA Neverflat Hexagrip outdoor basketball an excellent choice. Whether it is wear and tear or cold temperatures, your outdoor basketball is bound to disappoint you at some point due to deflation.
Such balls can make you commit a lot of mistakes while playing on the court or make dribbling the ball difficult. Fortunately, you won’t experience such issues when using this basketball.
Spalding has designed this ball using the Never Flat technology that makes sure the ball remains inflated for one year without the need to pump it. This is an amazing feature for players that do not like pumping the ball frequently as it maintains a good amount of air pressure even when temperatures have dropped.
Although you can use this basketball both outdoors and indoors, its cover has hexagons etched in it to give it a different feel from that of an indoor basketball, which you may or may not like depending on your preference.
The good news is that the hexagon pattern whisks water away so that the grip remains the same even during harsh weather conditions. The pattern provides an optimal and firm grip for dribbling and shooting.
The channels on the ball’s surface are also wide enough to ensure you enjoy great control during the release phase. Additionally, the wide channels enhance ball rotation while handling it’s not an issue as long as you keep it clean.
The Neverflat outdoor basketball features official NBA size and weight, which means you can use it for recreation or competition purposes. Additionally, the ball features great control, excellent grip, and high-quality materials.
This ball is really easy to handle. So, you should expect a great improvement in your performance after practicing with it for a few weeks.
The harder rubber mitigates abrasion and makes the ball durable. You can play with this ball throughout the year, and the grip won’t grind down. Also, this outdoor basketball will maintain its shape and weight.
Typically, soft-grip balls tend to lose shape after a short period of usage. However, the Spalding ball is an exception. It’s designed with top-notch technologies and materials to ensure you play with it frequently without losing its weight, shape, and grip.
One major issue with the Spalding Hexagrip ball is that it picks up dirt quickly when used on dirty or dusty courts, which can impact its overall performance. Dirt can affect the grip negatively and make handling the basketball unpleasant.
However, it is still perfect for those players that play a lot and are looking for a dependable ball that performs well in different weather conditions. Whether you intend to go for training camps or recreational games, this basketball will not disappoint you.
What We Like
- Ideal for recreation or competition purposes
- Features official NBA size and weight
- Hard rubber to mitigate abrasion
- Excellent grip and great control
- Easy to use and durable
What We Don’t Like
- Some users may not like its feel
- Dirt affects its performance
- Inconsistent bounce
- Official NBA size and weight: Size 7, 29.5"
- Soft Grip Technology cover
- Neverflat air retention technology stays inflated for at least 1 year
Best Durable Outdoor Basketball: Spalding NBA Street Phantom
The Spalding NBA Street Phantom basketball is great on outdoor surfaces like asphalt and concrete courts. This all-black ball uses Soft Grip technology to allow you to handle it better. It also makes palming the basketball easy to give you a good grip, especially when you are playing in the rain or when your hands are slippery due to sweating.
Apart from enhanced appearance and grip, the cover of this ball will also provide you with a soft feel. This outdoor basketball also comes with dense pebbles that ensure you enjoy a good grip when shooting or dribbling the ball.
Another remarkable feature you may like is the wider channel design that improves ball handling and control. Unlike the Spalding Hexagrip basketball, this ball comes inflated. This means you can start using the ball immediately after receiving it. According to industry standards, the ball’s bounce is satisfactory.
However, when you pump the ball to a higher pressure than usual, you may notice bounce inconsistency. When it comes to durability, the Street Phantom ball has a sturdy rubber cover that enables it to handle several basketball drills and games effectively.
Additionally, the cover ensures the ball withstands the toughness of an outdoor court. So, in terms of abrasion resistance, this ball beats the low-cost rubber outdoor balls that are prone to wear and punctures within a short period of use.
Like some balls on this list, this basketball also comes in the official NBA weight and size. This means you will be training with a basketball similar to those balls used in NBA leagues.
The ball is best for use during the afternoon as it starts glowing when the sunray falls on it because of its unique black color with neon lettering. This also improves its visibility both for spectators and players.
The basketball also stands up well to different weather conditions, especially in the rain, to give you a good grip. Since this model is a streetball, we don’t recommend using it on a rough surface because it won’t perform well. You can instead use it on an outdoor court, the rough streets, concrete pavement, or an asphalt driveway.
If you like customization, the ball’s different lettering color options and its unique black color will allow you to personalize the basketball to your liking.
Overall, the Phantom outdoor basketball has good air retaining qualities, design, and a consistent bounce when pumped according to the recommended specifications. It also provides sufficient grip, making it an excellent choice for an outdoor court. Additionally, the ball has wide channels to allow you to locate the seams quickly while playing.
What We Like
- Wide channel design for improved visibility
- Durable soft grip with premium outdoor cover
- Soft Grip technology enhances the functionality
- The unique black color with neon lettering
- Official NBA weight and size
What We Don’t Like
- Bounce can be inconsistent when the ball’s air pressure is high
- The feel may disappoint some users
- Premium Outdoor Cover with Durable Soft Grip Technology
- Wide channel design provides improved recognition
- Official NBA size and weight
What Makes a Good Outdoor Basketball?
Outdoor basketballs come in different materials, shapes, and sizes, which can make the selection process a bit difficult. As such, you need to ensure you are buying a basketball that will last longer and one that will allow you to practice like a professional player. Let’s take a look at the essential factors you need to consider when searching for the best outdoor basketball:
Generally, the surface of outdoor basketball courts is usually hard materials such as asphalt or concrete. Since these types of surfaces tend to be rough, over time, they are likely to affect the basketball. That is why it’s important to consider the materials to choose before selecting your basketball.
The most common types of materials used include rubber, composite, or synthetic. Although you can use a basketball made with any of the materials on an outdoor environment, some materials are better suited for an outdoor court. Let’s see how each material performs on an outdoor surface:
Leather is a premium material that is ideal for indoor basketballs. Although it feels a bit stiff for the first time, it makes for an incredible ball material for indoor basketball after they are broken in properly. Unfortunately, they are not ideal for outdoor games. This is because the material is prone to wear and tear when used on an outdoor court.
For this reason, it will be a good idea to pick another material. It’s important to mention that if you opt for a leather basketball, expect it to wear down quicker than a ball built with another material. Also, leather basketballs lose their soft feeling quickly when used on rough and hard surfaces. They can also be expensive.
Rubber balls are perfect for outdoor games, especially on rough surfaces. They also offer impressive sturdiness on outdoor courts. One advantage of using rubber balls is that they hardly wear out even when used on an asphalt court on a hot day. In addition, they have a great grip, and you can use them for other purposes rather than just playing basketball.
For example, you can use them for dodgeballs when a need arises. While balls made of this material are affordable, they are a bit rough in your hands compared to leather balls.
However, they are a great choice for novice players due to durability and low price. If you want to get into professional basketball, we recommend switching to more quality basketballs such as those made using composite material. It’s also important to mention that not all rubber balls are designed equally. This is because basketballs from well-known brands are usually the best than those from generic brands.
You can use these basketballs both for outdoor and indoor play. Their performance on any indoor court is great as they won’t wear out quickly as they would on an outdoor court. Another good thing about these basketballs is that they are cheaper than leather balls.
Unlike leather balls that require to be broken in, composite basketballs don’t need to be broken in to be effective. Another positive thing is that they won’t dry out like leather balls when used outdoors in hot, humid environments.
Composite basketballs are suitable for outdoor use because they are covered with a rubber layer that performs better on hard surfaces. This material provides a good grip and soft feeling of the ball. It’s also more durable in outdoor conditions and on hard surfaces. That is why most outdoor basketballs are constructed with composite material.
The size of your ball should be the first thing to consider while shopping around. Basketballs come in three different sizes: 5, 6, and 7, to give you a range of options depending on your age, gender, and type of game you intend to play.
- Size 5 Basketballs: These basketballs are for children aged 11 years or younger and are usually around 27.5 inches in circumference.
- Size 6 Basketballs: These balls are perfect for teen players aged between 12 to 15 years old, which is the size recommended by WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association). The basketballs are usually 28.8 inches in circumference.
- Size 7 Basketballs: Most league organizations use this size since the basketballs are perfect for male players aged above 16 years old. The balls are usually 28.5 inches in circumference.
While each basketball size is recommended for certain groups, it’s important to consider the players in your game as this will help you to choose a ball that suits their needs. However, you will have to use size 7 basketball when playing in most league games.
If you are planning to practice for a certain league, you will have to ensure you are training with the right gear. These specifications are strict and include size, weight, color, bounce, and material. So, you should find out the gear that is used in your organization of interest and familiarize yourself with their regulations. Here are some organizations with what they require:
FIBA (Federation International Basketball Association)
- Material: Leather or Synthetic
- Weight: 22 ounces
- Circumference: 29.5 inches
- Color: Not specified
- Size: 7
NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
- Weight: 22 ounces
- Circumference: 29.5 inches
- Color: Orange
- Size: 7
NBA (National Basketball Association)
- Weight: 22 ounces
- Circumference: 29.5 inches
- Color: Orange
- Size: 7
WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association)
- Weight: 20 ounces
- Circumference: 28.5 inches
- Color: Orange and White
- Size: 6
If you are developing your skills for a competitive game, consider looking for training balls. Traditional training balls can help you develop strength for dribbling, passing shooting, as well as ball-handling skills.
However, rubber balls are bulky and usually weigh more than the average basketballs. If you want to improve your shooting skills, go for a shooter’s basketball. These balls can help you develop your shooting skills as they have precise markers that show proper hand placement.
Another excellent choice is a connected basketball that uses technology to guide in developing several skills. These digital basketballs can track your misses, shooting percentage, and other statistics. Most digital basketballs will allow you to play in simulated games so that you get a feel of how you would perform.
Some models also have built-in drills and workouts and have game elements such as leveling up. These digital balls also use Bluetooth to allow you to connect to a smartphone so that you can analyze the data. This can be a useful device for experienced players that may want to spot weaknesses in their game.
It’s important that your basketball has the right air pressure before playing. According to NBA standards, the ball should be inflated between 7.5 and 8.5 PSI. While you can inflate most basketballs between 7 and 9 PSI, sometimes it can be difficult to find the right air pressure because most of the pumps available do not come with a pressure gauge that you can use to inflate the ball.
Fortunately, there is a way to determine whether the balls are pressurized well. Hold your basketball at head level, then drop it down. If the ball bounces up to your waist, then it is under-inflated. However, it’s probably over-inflated if it bounces beyond your waist.
Most balls have a burnt orange color, while others have different colors like yellow, blue, and black and even multi-colored. Most teams and leagues require a standard orange basketball. The other colorful balls are more about style than function. So, if you are searching for a competitive play ball, ensure to check with your league for more guidelines.
This is the most crucial factor when looking for a quality basketball because most professional basketballs have a standard size and weight. So, before buying your ball, you should consider these specifications.
Anything lighter or heavier than the standard size can affect the flight of your ball. For instance, a basketball that is lighter than the recommended weight may be affected by windy weather.
This can lower your shooting percentage due to inaccuracy as the ball can be blown away by the winds. On the other hand, you may find it difficult to dribble and shoot bulky balls effectively.
For this reason, it would be good if you adhered to the standards. You will also notice a steady increase in your shooting percentage, which is a plus because a slight increase in your shooting percentage can help you win more games.
When it comes to shooting percentage, design plays a crucial role. A poorly designed basketball can lower your goal percentage while a well-designed one can boost your shooting percentage.
Most basketballs have a similar design in terms of the channel, bladder, threading, and pebbling. The visible black lines on the surface of the basketball are channels. This is where the panels have been sealed for maximum durability. Pebbles also give your ball grip and texture.
As such, the arrangement of the channel matters because it has a great impact on your overall performance. Channels that are widely spaced will allow you to handle the ball better and enhance your shooting accuracy.
Additionally, the pebbles determine the grip of the basketball. If the ball has a better grip, it will provide you with better control and handling. Thus, it’s essential to opt for a well-designed basketball with the right channeling.
The trick lies in finding the right grip balance since too much grip will make it difficult to control the ball while too little will give the ball a slippery feeling. A good grip will allow you to control the ball easily while playing and also boost your shooting percentage.
However, not all basketballs come with pebbles. So, be sure to check this feature and only go for balls with pebbles. Also, check how the pebbles are organized on the surface of the ball before purchasing.
Perfect shooting and passing depend on how well a basketball bounces on the court. The bounce factor is crucial for an effective game, especially in outdoor courts. Rubber basketballs are an excellent option because they bounce consistently on outdoor courts.
On the other hand, a low-cost composite ball is inconsistent when it comes to the bounce factor. However, it’s also important to mention that inflation affects the bounce.
For example, you can adjust a composite leather basketball by increasing or reducing the inflation to enjoy consistent bounces. Generally, rubber balls deliver consistent bounces in outdoor courts than composite balls. If you still opt for a composite basketball, ensure it is of high quality to be able to maintain consistent bounces.
If you are planning to play outdoors, you will have to make compromises. For example, you may want a composite basketball such as the Spalding NBA Zi/O if you are a professional player because it’s fun to play with and feels great.
Unfortunately, composite basketballs are not designed for rough surfaces and won’t last long. So, you will have to keep buying a new ball from time to time.
However, if you are searching for a ball that your children can use to learn how to shoot hoops in your backyard, then handling is not important. Instead, you should ensure the ball is durable to survive rolling on the rough surface. In this scenario, an affordable rubber ball such as the Spalding NBA Street will be ideal.
Since the game requires jumping and running, the players tend to sweat easily, especially in outdoor courts. Due to the sweat, the hands become wet, which reduces the grip-ability of the basketball.
Fortunately, some balls feature moisture grip functionality to ensure the ball has the right grip on it and absorb the moisture from the hands of the players. With this functionality, there will be no need to take a break during the game. However, the feature only comes with premium basketballs.
Outdoor courts contain rocks, moisture, and dirt, which makes the environment unsuitable for a basketball game. As such, you should ensure that your ball can withstand such harsh conditions to extend its shelf life.
Rubber balls are ideal for outdoor courts as they last longer. However, if you prefer a composite basketball, ensure it is of high quality and does not wear or tear easily.
The Right Feel
Confidence is a crucial factor for every basketball player. When you feel comfortable while shooting and handling the ball, you will give the best performance. So, if a ball feels good to touch, you will shoot confidently in a game, break ankles and even cross over. You should ensure the ball feels right in your hands when choosing the right one.
Each time a basketball bounces on an outdoor court, it tends to wear and tear down. Over time, the ball may end up feeling like a light balloon. To avoid dealing with this situation, ensure you buy a quality basketball that retains the air pressure because cheap outdoor basketballs wear quickly.
Low-cost basketballs usually deflate when the temperatures are low, which affects the bouncing ability of a ball negatively. While most balls deflate to some degree when it gets cold, this scenario rarely occurs in high-quality basketballs.
Whether you are looking for a basketball to help you improve your skills or train with, we hope you will find the best outdoor basketball on our list so that you can step up your game like a professional player. The balls are also reasonably priced to ensure you get a basketball that is within your budget and one that meets your needs.