Top 9 Best Outdoor Basketballs in 2021 (Complete Guide)

Have you ever tried playing basketball outdoor but found that the game feels a lot different outside? Do you wish you had an outdoor ball that can make playing outside more fun and responsive?

Our team of expert reviewers scoured the internet for the 10 best outdoor basketballs you can use, so you can take your indoor game to the outdoor court.

This guide will help you understand:

  • The difference between an outdoor and an indoor ball
  • How to properly play with an outdoor basketball
  • What you should look for when choosing a new outdoor basketball

Before we head into more details about our top-rated outdoor basketballs, you can check out this quick list below for a preview of the products we tested.

IMAGE
PRODUCT
OUR TOP PICK


#1 – Spalding 2020 Official NBA All-Star Chicago Money Basketball

BEST BUDGET



#2 - Spalding Magic Johnson Signed Los Angeles Lakers Basketball

BEST HIGH END



#3 – Molten Outdoor Basketball




#4 - Spalding NBA Official Game Ball




#5 - Hchao Cute Indoor/Outdoor Basketball




#6 - Wilson NCAA Replica Basketball




#7 - Spalding Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball




#8 - Spalding NBA Replica Ball




#9 - Mikasa BX1000 Premium Outdoor Basketball

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

Updated on August 16, 2021

Spalding 2020 Official NBA All-Star Chicago Money Basketball

Among the many outdoor basketballs we bought and tested, we found the Spalding 2020 Official NBA All-Star Chicago Money Basketball to be right on the money (no pun intended).

It is the ultimate choice for anyone looking for a versatile and durable outdoor ball. The pebble pattern on this ball makes it easy to grip even in moist weather. The quality materials used for its cover make it durable and will keep the ball in place for long periods.

With these features, it’s difficult not to miss out on this great product.

Luka Doncic basketball career

What’s the Main Difference Between an Outdoor Basketball and Indoor Basketball?

If you’ve been playing basketball for a long time, then you should know how difficult it is to play from an indoor court to an outdoor court, and vice versa. Not only will you need a change of shoes, but you’ll also need a change of basketballs, just to keep your game at peak performance.

A lot of people may not even know that you’ll need two different balls for different courts, but that’s true. Indoor courts are generally made from hardwood, whilst outdoor courts are paved with concrete or asphalt. So, how certain materials interact with each floor will be different. But how exactly are outdoor basketballs built to compensate for such a difference?

Well, it all starts with their construction and materials. Indoor basketballs are built with full-grain leather and are designed to get a better grip on smoother floors, as is the case with indoor courts.

Outdoor basketballs, on the other hand, are made with durability in mind. They are designed to withstand harsh outdoor environments. For this reason, outdoor basketballs are usually made from artificial rubber or composite leather materials.

Composite leather is a synthetic material composed of both rubber and leather weaved into one another. It’s not as durable as rubber, but it is flexible, which is why composite leather is also used for hybrid basketballs, balls that can be used outside and inside.

Can You Use an Outdoor Basketball Indoors?

Outdoor basketballs are built for durability and longevity. It is designed for the harsher conditions outside, so they can take on whatever conditions are on an indoor court. Of course, playing with an outdoor basketball inside would mean you won’t be playing optimally.

Outdoor basketballs don’t have the same grip as indoor basketball, and they can be a bit heavier, which means your ball control will also suffer. But so long as you understand this, your outdoor basketball shouldn’t be any worse for wear whether you play outside or inside.

Is it Okay to Play Outdoor Basketball with an Indoor Ball?

Although it is okay to play outdoor basketball indoors, the same couldn’t be said with using an indoor ball on an outside court. Although indoor basketballs are built for durability and will last you years of play, this durability is only applicable if you use them on an indoor court.

Indoor basketballs are made from softer materials, so they are not suited for the hard and rough surfaces of outdoor courts. Once you start playing indoor basketball outside, it is easy for them to tear or crack when hitting hard surfaces.

Of course, if your basketball is a hybrid type, you can play them both inside and outside without any issues. Your game wouldn’t suffer, either, since they are designed to be well-balanced.

How to Maintain My Grip on an Outdoor Basketball

Just like any other sports equipment, to get the most out of your outdoor basketball, you’ll need to understand how to maintain them. If you don’t take care of your basketball, you end up losing its grip, which can be a huge factor in any game. Here are a few things you need to remember when maintaining your outdoor basketball’s grip.

  • Store it Properly

Depending on how often you use your basketball, the way you store it can vary. If you play regularly, store it somewhere dry and at room temperature without deflating it. If you need to pack your ball or don’t plan on playing anytime soon, it’s best to deflate it before storing it.

Regardless of how you plan on storing your ball, remember to keep it away from the elements and away from direct sunlight.

  • Keep it Inflated at the Proper Level

If you do plan on using your outdoor basketball, make sure that it is inflated properly. Now, basketballs lose air overtime during storage, and that’s normal. If you don’t inflate a ball properly, this will affect its bounce. To check if you have enough air, drop test your ball. You can do this by simply dropping your ball and letting it bounce. A properly inflated ball should jump two-thirds of the way up on the first bounce.

  • Clean it Regularly

Another thing that can affect how well your ball will perform is cleanliness. A ball that’s covered in dirt or debris doesn’t bounce or grip as well as a cleaner ball would. Simply wipe your ball with a damp cloth. If you need to wash it more thoroughly, use mild soap and warm water, then rinse. Make sure your ball has dried properly before you use it.

  • Keep the Court Clean

Keeping your play area free from debris or any other item that can poke holes at your ball can help you maintain the grip. Having a clean court also prevents players from getting injured, so make a habit out of it.

basketball-player

What Should You Look for When Buying Outdoor Basketballs?

Choosing the right outdoor basketball for you can be fairly straightforward. Of course, to do so, you’ll need to know exactly what to look for when buying a new basketball. Here are some of the things you need to consider.

  • Size

Whether you plan on paying men’s or women’s league basketball or are planning to teach your child the sport, how big or small your ball is has a huge impact on how you play. There are three sizes available: the men’s league, the women’s league, and basketballs for children.

Men’s league basketball uses a size 7 basketball or a ball that has a 29.5-inch circumference. Women’s league or youth league use a size 6 ball, or 28.5 inches in circumference. For children, the size 5 ball should do the trick. This ball is around 27.5 inches in circumference.

  • Material

Like we’ve said before, the basketball’s outer material is what differentiates it between an outdoor ball or an indoor one. You generally have 3 materials to choose from, which is leather, composite leather, or rubber. For outdoor games, you should choose composite leather or rubber. There are basketballs out there that are made from a combination of 2 materials, and they’re usually marketed as hybrid balls, which you can use both outside and inside.

  • Color

Some of the more popular colors are black, blue, yellow, burnt orange, and even multi-colored. Make sure that you consider the purpose of your purchase. For instance, if you’re going to buy a new ball for competitive basketball, you may need to purchase a ball with the standard orange color.

  • Durability

When choosing a basketball, consider the playing environment and the style of game that you play. For outdoor courts, basketballs should have a more rugged construction that can handle harsh conditions. These balls should also be durable enough to retain their playability for extended periods. In comparison, indoor basketballs tend to have a more forgiving construction than their outdoor counterparts.

  • Player’s Age

Take note of the players’ age to find basketballs suitable for their hands and average physical structures.

For children under 11, we suggest a small ball (size 5) or a slightly larger one. For children aged 11 and older, a size 6 ball would be more suitable. As for most teenagers, a size 7 ball would be ideal. If you are looking for a size 7 ball for a club team or professional team then this is the size for you.

  • Brand

Several quality basketball makers exist on the market. Some brands to note are Spalding, Molten, and Wilson. However, some hidden gems exist, such as Hchao. You’ll find more information about the basketballs these companies produce as you continue reading towards the next section.

Pick #1 - Spalding 2020 Official NBA All-Star Chicago Money Basketball

The Spalding 2020 Official NBA All-Star Money Ball commemorates the 2020 All-star games held in Chicago. But just because it’s a commemorative item, doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be used for play. The ball itself meets the NBA’s size and weight standards, so you can use it for top-level competitive play without any issue.

The outer layer is made of Spalding microfiber composite materials, making it suitable for play on any surface. The surface also has engraved pebbling for an enhanced grip. Naturally, given that it’s a limited edition basketball, it can double as a great centerpiece for your collection. There are only 2020 ever made.

A downside that we’ve discovered, which seems to be a problem with many Spalding basketballs, is that it deflates rather quickly. So, before any game, it’s best to check your basketball if it still has enough air for proper play.

Pick #2 – Spalding Magic Johnson Signed Los Angeles Lakers Basketball

The first thing you’ll come to notice when holding the Spalding Magic Johnson Basketball is the grip. This particular model has a durable rubber cover that can not only withstand a lot of wear and tear, it also makes gripping it a walk in the park.

The ball also boasts wide channels, allowing you excellent control over the ball’s release. The dense pebble design also handles the wet pretty well, so you can play even during a drizzle, or if you have sweaty hands.

Of course, we’ll have to address the elephant in the room, which is the signed article. According to Fanatics Authentic, the sign itself did come from the legendary Lakers guard, Magic Johnson. So this ball is more a collector’s item than an actual ball meant for play.

Pick #3 – Molten Outdoor Basketball

Molten is probably not a brand you would think of when buying a good outdoor basketball, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a lot to offer. The Molten Outdoor Basketball is FIBA approved and offers a unique pebbled outer layer pattern, which helps improve your grip, even when it’s wet outside, or if your hands are full of sweat.

Outdoor play areas tend to have hard and rough surfaces, but this basketball has a durable rubber layer that is a great answer to that. It also has a foam concentration of about 35%, not only making the ball softer, but also easier to grip and control.

One downside we have found, however, is that the ball is only offered in smaller sizes. It’s perfect for women’s league basketball or junior high basketball, but not for the men’s league.

Pick #4 - Spalding NBA Official Game Ball

Whether you plan on playing competitive basketball or something more recreational, you certainly can’t go wrong with the Spalding NBA Official Game Ball. This ball meets all the requirements for an official game, and the performance certainly matches it.

The outer layer is made from composite materials, making it a perfect piece of equipment for outdoor play. Not only that, but the unique patterns on its surface offer great grip, whether from your hand or for a slick hardwood floor. This makes the ball perfect both for outdoor and interior courts.

We did find the ball a bit hard and lacking cushioning, so it can be a bit hard on the hands, especially on those passes.

Pick #5 - Hchao Cute Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

If you’re looking for a unique-looking ball, or are just looking for something a little different, then the Hchao Cute Basketball would be perfect for you. The entire surface of the ball is covered with a unique pebble design that makes it extra grippy. It even has a cute smiley face staring at us as we grip the ball.

The channels are a bit wide and a little deep, which makes it necessary to lean them often, but they do take control during passes much easier. The ball also features a unique rubber bladder that helps retain air much better, meaning it won’t lose air as fast as other brands. Of course, this also means you have a more consistent bounce every time.

One of the less desirable things we did find is that the colors can be a bit garish. Still, if you’re looking for something different, the unique blue color does offer an interesting flair to it.

Pick #6 - Wilson NCAA Replica Basketball

Some of our team members wanted to recreate their college basketball years with a replica ball. So we had to get this basketball to relive their college memories.

This NCAA replica basketball from Wilson is one of the sturdiest we’ve bought and tested. It has a durable rubber construction. Plus, we found that this level of sturdiness makes it ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.

We also liked that the brand added moisture-wicking components on the ball’s surface. Therefore, the ball doesn’t slip from our sweaty hands during intense play. Additionally, this feature is combined with a cushion core, allowing it to have reasonable bounce and flexibility for optimal longevity.

However, our model came with a small leak upon delivery. We had to detach the seam and reattach it with a tighter connection. Then, we had to inflate the ball to make up for the lost air.

Pick #7 - Spalding Zi/O Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

The team found this particular basketball to be one of the best-selling outdoor models on the market. So we decided to purchase it. Once it arrived at our doorstep, we tested it out immediately by making a few hoops with it. At that point, most of our doubts and worries for this product came to an end.

This basketball gave us several pleasant surprises. First, the Zi/O cover is the highlight of this basketball. It has a foam backing that feels spongy, and sponginess is a bit of a norm for most players, particularly for the players in our team.

The ball has a tight grip, but it also has a good amount of tack. However, this feature makes the basketball have a slightly sticky or plasticky feel, although it’s not as noticeable as other options on the market.

Plus, the Zi/O is a fair amount of bounce when pumped to 7psi. It means that we didn’t have to pump it up to a higher pressure to get the desired amount of bounce. The bounce is also quite consistent, even when playing for extended periods.

Pick #8 - Spalding NBA Replica Ball

After considering our college basketball years, this time we wanted to try and replicate what it would feel like when playing for the NBA. For that purpose, we bought and tested this NBA replica ball from Spalding.

At first, let’s talk about its design. One of the reasons we liked the Spalding Replica NBA Game Ball so much is because of its discreet appearance. Unlike the Wilson NCAA Game Ball, it doesn’t make any drastic differences to the overall design. Additionally, it doesn’t need to have appearances that seems to be ‘way out there,’ such as changing the color to a flashy hue like neon yellow.

Aside from its appearance, we also liked the grip provided by this outdoor basketball. It’s a great gripper, and this feature even makes this outdoor model ideal for indoor play. It’s soft and comfortable to play with, even when our hands are very sweaty.

Then, there’s the bounce, which the Spalding Replica Ball doesn’t skimp out on it. Its bounce is consistent throughout the entire game, especially when pumped with about 7.5psi.

On the downside, it feels like this particular basketball won’t last as long as other competing products. The butyl bladder of the basketball feels like it has dubious quality. It had lost some air after a few days of inactivity.

Pick #9 - Mikasa BX1000 Premium Outdoor Basketball

Aside from being a manufacturer of clothing and equipment for volleyball, Mikasa also has a great reputation for providing high-quality basketball products. To prove that case, we found, bought, and tested this BX1000 outdoor basketball from the brand.

Before anything else, we would like to mention that this basketball is one of the most inexpensive basketballs on the market. However, we were surprised to see some high-quality features included in this product despite having a reasonably low price tag.

For instance, we liked that the BX1000 has a durable rubber cover that holds up against harsh weather conditions. At one point, we forgot to store the basketball indoors and heavy rain started pouring outside. We were happy to see that the ball didn’t have significant signs of damage from the downpour.

We also liked that even the smallest hands will have no problems with this ball. It grips to the hands like glue, which also makes the ball good for passing control and street dunking. We also think that the deeper channels help extend the longevity of the ball. Aside from that, it has a consistent bounce across the board.

However, its reasonably low price point shows in its durability. The nylon-wound material seems to gather more wear and tear with extended use. Although we can repair it using our equipment, we think that it’s not going to be worth many people’s time and effort to fix when it breaks.

Our Top Pick – Spalding 2020 Official NBA All-Star Chicago Money Basketball

Whether you’re looking to play outdoors or indoors, the Spalding 2020 All-Star Chicago Money Ball can certainly deliver. This is why it’s our number one pick for the best outdoor basketball available.

The unique pebble pattern makes it easy to grip the ball even in moist weather, or with sweaty hands, plus the quality materials for the cover improves the durability. Despite this, it still plays well on indoor courts.

Check the low price on Amazon.

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Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones

My name is Aaron and I am the owner of Make Shots. On this site, I discuss the most frequently asked basketball questions and give my opinions. My love for basketball started in 2010 and ever since I have fallen in love with the sport.
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