How to Choose a Basketball
Selecting the ideal basketball for your playing style allows you to play your best, no matter where the game takes you. Let Wilson be your guide to understanding the technical aspects of choosing the perfect basketball.
Basketball Buying Guide
A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Basketball
Understanding the technical elements of a Wilson basketball will help you rule the court. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, Wilson is your guide to choosing the best basketball for your level of play. Selecting a basketball with the appropriate size and material will help you better your game and perform at your best.
The first step in choosing a basketball is to determine what size is ideal for your level of play. Playing with an incorrectly sized ball can have long-term negative effects on a player’s technique. Additionally, different leagues have various restrictions regarding size, material, and color for game balls they permit.
Size 7 basketballs measure 29.5” in circumference and have a standard weight of 22 oz. Size 7 basketballs are the standard ball size for men’s professional basketball associations, such as the NBA, as well as men’s college, high school, and travel basketball leagues.
Size 6 basketballs measure 28.5” and have a standard weight of 20 oz. Logically, size 6 balls are slightly smaller than size 7 basketballs, making them ideal for players with smaller hand spans. Size 6 balls are the official ball size for most women’s professional basketball associations, including the WNBA and International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3x3, in addition to women’s college and high school basketball leagues, and in youth leagues for players 12 and up.
For players 8 and under, size 5 basketballs are the ideal size for play. With a circumference measuring 27.5”-27.75” and a standard weight of 14-16 oz, this is the most popular basketball size for youth leagues. Click here to shop Wilson's selection of Youth Basketballs.
With a circumference of 25.5” and a weight of only 14 oz, these child-friendly basketballs are ideal for children 6 and under.
With a circumference of 22.5” and a weight of 10 oz, this size is commonly referred to as a mini basketball. These are best for kids 4 and under, but also make a great commemorative item for any age.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Basketballs
Whether you’re playing on a polished wood court or street ball in the driveway, it is important to consider the playing environment when choosing a basketball that is right for you. As playing styles evolve and become more technical, basketball design has also become more advanced. Internal structure, cover construction, and channel depth have all been carefully engineered to help basketball players perform better wherever they find the game. Outdoor courts demand basketballs with a more rugged construction: balls that are durable enough to handle abrasive surfaces and retain their playability in adverse weather conditions. Indoor courts require basketballs with more forgiving construction, optimized to perform without damaging more delicate playing surfaces.
Today’s basketballs feature a cover construction of either rubber or composite leather. Composite basketballs, sometimes referred to as “synthetic” basketballs, maintain all the pliability and grip of traditional leather construction while being durable enough to withstand dirt, moisture, and other elements, ultimately extending the life and playability of the basketball. Because of this, composite basketballs are ideal for most indoor and indoor/outdoor play. Rubber basketballs, sometimes referred to as street basketballs, are designed for outdoor play. They are equipped with a cover construction designed to perform well in inclimate weather conditions and withstand hours of play on rough surfaces and wear from metal nets.
- Durable enough for outdoor use
- Excellent grip, even in rain /dirt
- Available in many colors and patterns
- Ideal for street basketball and casual play
- Sometimes called “Synthetic Basketballs”
- Appropriate for indoor/outdoor use
- More durable than leather
- Most popular basketball type
For more info on choosing the best ball for you, check out the video below.
Updated December 9, 2022