The 9 Best Basketballs to Buy in 2018

Shoot around with these top picks

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Team sports are a great way to connect with friends, stay in shape, and demonstrate the value of teamwork to kids. Basketball is no exception: you have to be agile and quick to keep up with your opponents, which helps build your cardiovascular endurance.

Luckily, basketball is a relatively inexpensive sport to get started with—you just need sneakers, a ball, a hoop, and some willing friends. However, not all basketballs are alike, and depending on where and how you’re playing, you’re going to need a basketball that meets your environmental and competitive needs. Once you’ve committed to shooting hoops and you’re ready to invest in your own ball, you can check out the best basketballs below.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

Spalding NBA Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball - Official Size 7 (29.5

Courtesy of Amazon

Basketball lovers who need a ball that can go from indoor court to street game to casual free throws in their driveway need a do-it-all pick that will last. Spalding is the brand of choice for ballers from novice to pro, and their Zi/O tournament ball is Amazon’s Choice for best basketball.

This ball has the ultimate flexibility for indoor or outdoor play: the composite leather cover has enough surface pebbling to survive outdoor conditions without losing the touch you’ll need in an indoor game. It meets the strict NBA requirements for size, and foam backing creates an improved soft feel and grip.

Hoopsters on Amazon loved this ball’s bang for the buck and said it didn’t bulge or deflate after a few months of play on various surfaces.

Best Budget: Wilson NCAA Killer Crossover Basketball

Wilson NCAA Killer Crossover Basketball

Courtesy of Walmart 

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t find a quality basketball for your game. Wilson’s NCAA-sized ball has slick looks and regulation standards for a professional game in a casual setting.

This ball’s Optima rubber cover has increased durability that leads to more consistent bounce and performance when you need it the most. Its super-wide channels lead to a better grip and control while you’re dribbling and the ball’s stunning multi-color looks flawlessly combines form and function.

Basketball fans who bought this ball loved its visual curb appeal and said that it was budget-friendly enough to buy one for themselves and one for their kids.

Best Indoor: Wilson Evolution Indoor Game Basketball

If you’re committed to your basketball team (or you just need an indoor court to stay in shape during the colder months), you’re going to need a reliable ball that gives you an edge on the competition. Wilson’s Evolution ball is an Amazon bestseller that meets all of the requirements for a stellar indoor basketball.

This ball’s composite leather cover wicks moisture away to help you keep your grip during an intense game. Its cushioned interior gives a softer feel for enhanced touch and handling, and the high-definition pebbling creates friction so the ball doesn’t get away from you.

More than 1,000 ballers on Amazon love this pick for its perfect balance between tight grip and soft feel, and some coaches even chimed in and said that they have relied on this exact model for years.

Best Outdoor: Franklin Sports Grip-Rite

Outdoor basketballs are made a little differently than indoor balls: they have less pebbling to balance out increased friction on rough outdoor surfaces, and they’re usually made entirely of leather (instead of a composite) for greater durability. Franklin’s street ball checks off all of the outdoor basketball requirements with colorful designs and sizes for men, women, and children.

This ball’s top-grade rubber and yarn construction holds up on unpredictable cement or asphalt surfaces. The extra-deep channels and ultra-grippy rubber help you maintain control during your game, and with four color options you’ll never mix up your ball with someone else’s.

Outdoor players who reviewed this ball loved how well it bounced and held air, and said the rubber’s grip was comparable to more expensive balls.

Best for Training: Baden SkilCoach Shooter’s Rubber Ball

There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing that swoosh when your shot glides effortlessly through a basketball net, but becoming a reliable offensive player takes time. If you’re teaching a younger player how to sink their free throws (or brushing up on your own skills) and need an easy way to show proper hand positioning, Baden’s SkilCoach Shooter’s Ball can point you in the right direction.

This ball comes with right and left hand prints on the surface to encourage correct one-handed shooting form. The rubber cover withstands both outdoor and indoor play, and with enough practice you’ll break bad habits and consistently sink shots in no time.

Coaches and parents on Amazon love how this ball helped their young players establish ideal hand placement for higher scores, and said that it reduced a lot of the frustration that their kids had when they tried shooting with other balls.

Best for Women: Spalding WNBA Replica Ball

Women are just as tough on the court as men, but their professional basketballs are made a little differently—the WNBA’s regulation size for basketballs is 28.5” instead of the 29.5” NBA standard. If you’re a woman who loves giving her all on the court and wants regulation gear, you should grab Spalding’s WNBA Replica Outdoor Ball before your next game.

This ball meets the WNBA’s size and weight requirements, and its composite surface is great for indoor or outdoor play. The patented two-panel construction improves your grip and feel when you’re shooting hoops, and the orange and beige coloring sets it apart from other balls.

Women who bought this ball on Amazon said it held up well during games and noted that it made a great gift for daughters and granddaughters.

Best for Kids: Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

Driveway basketball games are an easy, fun way to get kids moving, but you’ve got to help maintain their interest when they’re looking to improve and move past frustrating roadblocks. Colorful gear makes everything more exciting and Spalding’s Rookie Gear Basketball is a rainbow-inspired choice that keeps kids on the court.

This ball is not only smaller in circumference for little hands, but it’s also 25 percent lighter than standard youth balls for easier handling. It can be used for casually shooting free throws in your driveway or on an outdoor court, or for doing more intense drills at an indoor gym.

Parents of young children loved how this ball stood out during after school activities and said that the lighter weight and softer feel of this ball improved their child’s grip for a more competitive game.

Best for Water: Dunnrite Pool/Water Basketball

When it’s blazing hot outside, a lot of basketball players are forced to find an indoor gym or wait until the evening to get their game on. However, you can still get some outdoor practice in during daylight hours if you move your game from land to sea, and the Dunnrite Pool/Water Basketball is safe to use in your pool.

This mid-sized ball is designed to withstand sun, chlorine, and heat without fading or deflating. The smaller size is perfect for helping your kids get in on the action, and it’ll be easier on your pool’s hoop than a full-sized water ball.

Aquatic basketball fans loved this ball’s light blue color and durability, saying that it held up after floating in a pool for months and was a great addition to any pool party.

Best Professional: Wilson Tournament Game Basketball

If you’ve got hoop dreams that go beyond your driveway or nearby park, you’re going to want to practice with the same ball as the pros. Wilson’s Tournament Game Basketball is regulation-size, and it’s the exact model that’s used during March Madness.

Wilson’s Tournament Ball has a moisture-absorbing cover and patented laid-in channels for the best grip and handling during sweaty face-offs. The cushion core delivers a more consistent bounce so you won’t have any nasty surprises when you’re trying to out-dribble an opponent, and the composite leather cover is ideal for intense indoor competition.

Basketball players who bought this ball on Amazon said that it had a better feel and was easier to handle than other options they’d tried, and one youth basketball coach chimed in and said he preferred this ball for practices.

Our Process

Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular basketballs on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 18 different basketballs overall, screened options from 8 different brands and manufacturers and read over 15 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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