Whether you’re shooting hoops in the driveway, playing street basketball with friends, or competing on a full court in the park, you need a durable, outdoor-rated basketball that is designed and manufactured for rough playing surfaces including asphalt or concrete.
We’ve reviewed the 5 best outdoor basketballs and also created a buyers guide entitled How to Choose the Best Outdoor Basketball, in which we go in-depth on the important purchase decision factors. What is the best outdoor basketball?
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Outdoor Basketballs
- Spalding NBA Street Basketball
- Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball
- Nike Versa Tack Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
- Spalding NBA Varsity Outdoor Rubber Basketball
- Wilson NCAA MVP Rubber Basketball
Best Outdoor Basketballs
Best Outdoor Basketballs Reviews
Features of the Spalding NBA Street Basketball
- Best For: Daily outdoor matches, consistent bounce & performance, durability & longevity
- Size: 7 / 6 / 5
- Material: Outdoor rubber cover
- Features: Wide channels for grip, NBA logo, great bounce, two-tone color
The Spalding NBA outdoor basketball is available in three different sizes: regulation size 7 and the two smaller sizes 6 and 5. It requires no breaking in and feels great and soft from the very beginning. The material holds up well over time to retain performance and all its great qualities.
The ball features a high performance rubber cover, making it rugged enough for asphalt and concrete courts with good bounce and dribble. Wide and deep channels allow for excellent grip.
However, because rubber is slightly harder to grip, it is important that you get the right size for your hands with this basketball. The good news is that this outdoor basketball maintains a great grip even when it gets a little wet, either from a playground puddle or sweaty palms.
The Spalding NBA Street Basketball is highly affordable with an outstanding price to value ratio. It will last through heavy use without losing performance and is a great durable option.
The ball’s weight is true and holds up over use, retaining proper bounce at the same time. This is one of the lowest-priced outdoor basketballs with consistent performance: an impressive all-rounder for many different players.
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Features of the Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball
- Best For: Indoor & outdoor recreational play, durability
- Size: 7 / 6 / 5
- Material: Optima rubber
- Features: 16 panel construction, wide & pebbled channels for grip, pressure lock bladder, 5 different designs, NCAA logo
Wilson has constructed a long-living basketball from 16 panels with wide and pebbled channels for good grip. The Optima rubber material performs right out of the box with a consistent bounce normally only achieved by composite leather balls.
The Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball is available in a total of five colors designs which correspond to sizes. The black-and-white and red-and-white versions are the official regulation size 7.
The blue/white and orange/white versions correspond to size 6, and the green/white model is a size 5 for your youths. This outdoor basketball is therefore good for recreational players of various ages.
With a special pressure lock bladder, the ball maintains proper pressure well without the need to re-inflate it regularly, even on colder day. The spongy rubber cover continues to provide good grip even when the ball is dirty, dusty or wet. You can rely on bounce consistency over the years.
All in all, the Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball will not let you down but provides good quality at an affordable price.
Features of the Nike Versa Tack Indoor/Outdoor Basketball
- Best For: Indoor & outdoor use, adults, great feel, durability
- Size: 7
- Material: Composite of 70% rubber, 16% nylon, 14% synthetic leather
- Features: Pebble texture, soft-touch rubber for feel, wide channels, good shape retention
The Versa Tack indoor / outdoor basketball is made of 70% rubber, 16% nylon and 14% synthetic leather. The rubber as the main component makes the ball highly durable, preventing weight loss from wear and tear, while the synthetics add the feel and performance needed for good handling. In addition, a butyl bladder inside helps the ball retain its shape and therefore its consistent bounce.
The traditional pebble texture gives good grip, even in dirty or wet conditions. The soft-touch rubber makes for an improved feel when compared to a full-rubber model, and with wide channels, you can handle and control the ball well.
The Nike Versa Tack basketball has two minor drawbacks. It’s only available in size 7 and therefore only suitable for adults. Teenagers and players with smaller hands will find the ball too heavy and difficult to handle.
The other thing is that due to a high rubber percentage, the ball is on the heavy side and requires slightly more force to get an adequate rebound. However, once you’ve figured out dribbling with this ball, you’ll enjoy the consistent bounce of the Nike Versa Tack outdoor basketball.
During indoor play, the Nike Versa Tack basketball cannot compete with higher-priced models, of course, but it’s fantastic for outside use with no slippage and adequate dribbling and shooting.
Features of the Spalding NBA Varsity Outdoor Rubber Basketball
- Best For: Beginners, extraordinary color, longevity, consistent bounce
- Size: 7 / 6
- Material: Traditional Rubber Cover
- Features: Deep channels, all-ball pebbling, true to size, original colors, NBA logo
The Spalding NBA Varsity outdoor basketball is available in six different color designs to stand out on the court: black/blue, black/pink, dark blue/black, green/blue, pink/green and red/pink. The NBA has endorsed this ball and it features the official NBA logo.
With a durable rubber cover and traditional pebbling, this outdoor basketball can handle rough courts without neglecting ball control and feel. It does not need to be broken into and you can start shooting straight away.
The ball is soft enough to be grippy, while deep channels allow for secure handling. The Varsity flies stable during shots and retains its shape.
This durable models not only retains its grip, but also its consistent bounce. A long-lasting ball that is easy to hold, dribble and shoot allows you to focus on improving your game instead of having to react to an erratic ball. What’s also great is that the Varsity performs well on colder days.
Despite its construction, the ball doesn’t give you a cheap rubber feeling. Instead, the Spalding Varsity strikes a good value for money balance and offer reliable outdoor performance. This authentic ball is great for daily matches or practice and absolute bargain at a low price tag.
Features of the Wilson NCAA MVP Rubber Basketball
- Best For: Indoor & outdoor use, youths, reliable bounce, durability
- Size: 7 / 6 / 5
- Material: Rubber shell, Optima rubber cover, rubber compound
- Features: Super wide channels, all-surface cover, pressure lock bladder, NCAA logo
Although Wilson recommends this basketball for indoor and outdoor courts, the high rubber compound material offers a sub-par performance on hardwood floors.
As an outdoor basketball, the Wilson NCAA MVP performs all the better. The ball is constructed from rubber compound with a rubber shell and Optima rubber cover for uncompromised durability.
The special cover and wide channels give you improved grip and control. With nylon windings, the ball retains its shape even through long use and abuse, and the rubber bounce is reliable and predictable. It retains air well with a pressure lock bladder and polyester windings.
The Wilson NCAA MVP is a solid choice for a durable outdoor basketball with no surprises at a good price.
How to Choose the Best Outdoor Basketball
Outdoor basketballs differ from indoor models and are made more durable. No matter where you play, you’ll want top performance, which is largely influenced by different materials.
Not everyone is able to play with a full-size regulation ball, so size and weight are also factors to consider. We’ve highlighted the best use for each model and we give you all the details in tour guide after our top selection.
A great outdoor basketball has just the right amount of grip, a consistent bounce, and a smooth feel. It should properly retain inflation and be durable to withstand the use and wear of asphalt courts.
Apart from the material, you’ll also need to consider which size is correct for you. In our following guide, we’ll go over all the important deciding factors for the best outdoor basketballs.
- Indoor & Outdoor Basketballs
- Top Indoor Basketballs
- Size & Weight
- Extra Features
- Basketball Brands
Indoor & Outdoor Basketballs
Indoor basketball courts most often use a wooden floor. In combination with a leather ball, this creates a great performance with good texture and grip, excellent dribbling, ball handling and bounces.
In the beginning of outdoor and street basketball, players used the same balls, but quickly noticed that the rougher and harder surface leads to ball degradation, which affects bounce, weight, and handling.
So the main difference between indoor and outdoor basketball is the material used to construct the ball. Instead of full leather, outdoor balls are made from tougher material to stand up to concrete, asphalt, or rubber courts and the inevitable abuse and heavy wear and tear.
Cheaper outdoor balls are made entirely of rubber, whereas high-end outdoor basketballs employ composite materials. Crossover basketballs for both indoor and outdoor use typically feature at least some percentage of genuine leather, which is usually covered or treated for outdoor use.
Top Indoor Basketballs
All five models that we’ve reviewed are made primarily for outdoor use. Should you nonetheless be looking for a good indoor basketball, we recommended the following five models:
- Wilson Evolution Indoor Basketball
- Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel Basketball
- Spalding TF-1000 Classic Indoor Basketball
- Wilson NCAA Replica Game Basketball
- The Rock Basketball
Genuine leather is reserved for indoor basketballs, and Spalding is just about the only producer of leather models and the Official NBA Game Basketball. Leather basketballs need to be broken in until they handle well, but then they offer great performance over a long time – though only when you treat them properly and refrain from outdoor use, unfortunately.
This is why most manufacturers use a composite leather material, which is basically synthetic that imitates the great performance of leather while being more versatile and durable. Composite outdoor basketballs handle well from the very beginning and offer peak performance.
Rubber is very cheap to produce, yet rubber basketballs are highly durable and can withstand a lot of stress and rough surfaces. This makes them ideal for beginners and children who don’t need as much precision and will abuse the ball more. Rubber basketballs offer a harder feel and their weakness is a poor grip.
Size & Weight
To be able to handle a basketball properly and enjoy the game, you need the right size. The largest basketballs are size 7, but they’ll be too heavy and large for younger players to dribble and shoot. A size too large makes gripping the ball quite difficult.
Especially youths and children need smaller outdoor basketballs to match their hands, arms, and height. A wrong size enforces bad technique and habits. Use the table below to pick the right outdoor basketball size.
|Size 7||29.5”||20 – 22 oz||Men’s regulation size. High school boys and older|
|Size 6||28.5”||18 – 20 oz||Women’s regulation size. High school and college women.|
|Size 5||27.5”||17 oz||Youth, ages 5 to 9|
|Size 4||25.5”||14 oz||Youth, ages 3 to 7|
|Mini||variable||10 oz||Children, promotional items, indoor, toy|
Performance factors tend to be a bit more subjective, but they nonetheless offer a good indication of the quality of an individual model.
Ideally, the feel you get from an outdoor basketball as close as possible to that of an indoor model. This is possible with basketballs made from composite materials, whereas the rubber only balls can wear out quickly on the surface. Feel is about how the ball connects with your hand, allowing you control. It should be balanced between stability and cushion to enable a good dribbling performance.
This is how easy a basketball is to hold. Many players prefer an outdoor basketball which they can easily palm, which relies on good grip. Too much grip will reduce feel, however.
Good grip depends on the surface, and the typical dimples of a basketball offer your palm a slightly uneven surface on which you can exert good pressure. A slick and smooth ball is hard to grip, especially when wet. Not all balls handle well when wet. While you might not plan on playing in the rain, keep in mind that outdoor basketball matches can get heated very quickly and moisture from sweaty palms will grease and slick the ball.
As bouncing the ball is of course essential to the game, any outdoor basketball should offer a regular and reliable bounce from the center. With more durable materials, the ball can better retain its consistent bounce, whereas cheap model eventually become useless due to an off-center bounce.
A quality outdoor basketball should last a couple of years with normal play. Composite material performs better over time, but eventually, all balls lose weight due to wear and tear.
It’s important that a ball retains air well over time so that you don’t have to inflate it again before every single game. Inflation largely influences the bounce of the ball, and the proper rate is between 7.5 and 8.5 PSI.
These won’t primarily influence your decision, but are good to know. Some models come with a high quality valve or bladder to retain air pressure over a long time. The channel construction of many manufacturers is similar as most players prefer wider, deeper channels for optimized grip, but it’s worth paying attention to this detail.
Spalding, Wilson and Nike are the three top brands for outdoor basketball. The NBA uses Spalding balls as the official basketballs. Youth leagues and the NCAA commonly use Wilson basketballs. International leagues often use Molten as a provider. Nike is also popular with many recreational players.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor Basketballs
Q: What is the difference between an indoor and outdoor basketball?
A: Basketballs are optimized to give you just the right bounce for proper play. An indoor court commonly has a certain smooth surface that is far less aggressive for the ball. Outdoor basketballs feature a durable material for longevity during heavy use on asphalt courts. Outdoor models tend to be more affordable than high quality indoor basketballs.
Q: Why can’t I use an indoor basketball outdoors?
A: Simply put, the rough surface of outdoor basketball courts will quickly ruin an indoor model. The ball can lose its shape from bouncing on asphalt, and you’ll wear out the surface. In addition, the bounce of an indoor basketball on asphalt is not ideal for an enjoyable game.
It’s possible to use an outdoor model on an indoor court, but it can feel too hard and be difficult or even painful to handle. If you’re looking for an indoor basketball model, check our guide above for alternatives to our best outdoor basketball models.
Q: What are the different sizes for outdoor basketballs?
A: Size 7 is the largest basketball size, best for men in high school and older. A size 6 is for women and boys aged 8 to 12 years. Size 5 basketballs are considered youth size for ages 5 to 9. The next smaller size 4 is for children aged 3 to 7. The mini size is mostly used indoors and for promotional items.
Q: What are crossover basketballs?
A: Basketball manufacturers have introduced so-called crossover balls intended for both indoor and outdoor use. They seek to combine the longevity of an outdoor ball to withstand playing on asphalt with the high performance and good grip of an indoor model.
Crossover balls are great if you mostly play on street courts and occasionally indoors. If you primarily play basketball on a hall court, you should get two separate models.
Q: Do the various outdoor basketball models perform differently?
A: The best basketball performance is achieved with a regulation size leather ball on an indoor wood court with a proper inflation between 7.5 and 8.5 PSI.
That being said, it’s difficult to achieve the same performance with an outdoor ball while maintaining longevity and consistency in handling. Outdoor basketballs made from composite materials and leather covered with another material tend to perform better than just rubber models.
Q: How should I inflate an outdoor basketball?
A: As mentioned above, always inflate a basketball to a value between 7.5 and 8.5 PSI. A basketball pump kit with a pressure gauge makes it easy to properly inflate any outdoor basketball. To avoid damage, you shouldn’t use a compressor or any other high pressure source for inflating.
Q: Where can I play outdoor basketball?
A: It’s easy to set up a basketball hoop in your driveway or on your property. You can also get a portable basketball hoop, which allows you to stay flexible with where and when you play. Chances are there are many public courts in your area.
Ask for courts in parks and public property in your municipality. Some schools allow outside players on their courts during off-hours. Use the court finder of Courts of the World to locate a public outdoor basketball court near you.
Shooting hoops on outside basketball courts is a widely popular outside activity practiced by recreational players and more competitive basketballers alike. The models we’ve reviewed are suitable for both, giving you instant enjoyment on nearly any court.
If you’re more of a professional, save your indoor basketball from wear and tear and get one of these highly affordable outdoor models instead for your target practice.
Our top selection of the best outdoor basketballs and guide allow you to compare great choices and find the ball that’s best for you. Make sure to also check out our review of the best outdoor basketball shoes and enjoy your game!
Thanks for reading! We hope our reviews will help you pick the right model basketball from among our top selections. Enjoy your new basketball and playing this great sport at your favorite local court.
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