In 1891, Dr. James Naismith invented the sport we now know as basketball. But it wasn’t until a few years later when basketball showcased its distinct ball design. It underwent different design changes over the years until the ball would eventually have those dots on the surface. But what are these dots? Also, how many dots does a basketball have?
The standard basketball has 122 dots per square inch. Take into account the standard 29.5-inch circumference of an average basketball ball and it translates to about 35,000 dots throughout the ball’s entire surface.
What are these dots called? How did the basketball look like its current design? Why is it orange? You’ll find the answers to these questions as you continue to the rest of this article.
All basketballs, especially those used in official matches, have dots. The basketball-making sector calls these dots ‘pebbles.’
These pebbles are no mere decorative elements. Instead, these thousands of tiny components help basketball players hold and grip the ball properly. Further, the pebbles help the ball gain enough traction when it bounces off the floor.
If these pebbles didn’t exist, basketball players would find it more challenging than intended to control the ball. The ball would also have a high chance of bouncing in different directions when dribbled, causing several disruptions during games.
What is the History of the Basketball’s Design?
Inventor Dr. James Naismith created basketball in 1891, but it wasn’t until 1894 when the sport had its official ball. So what did the players use during the sports first three years? They used a ball with enough bounce for dribbling. But the ball didn’t have the pebbles that now exist in the current basketball design.
Think of using the classic basketball as trying to hold an ice cube; the lack of friction, when in contact with non-resistant surfaces, is a recipe for disaster. The frictionless basketball would bounce in various directions as players found it difficult to control the ball.
Thankfully, Naismith knew A.G. Spalding, a close friend, and sporting goods maker. Spalding, which is known by many as the famous sporting goods brand, collaborated with the doctor to design a ball with the right amount of traction.
As the two sports experts put on their thinking caps, the dots or pebbles on the basketballs came to be.
Combined with a new, rough, and well-treated leather, the basketball used from 1894 and onwards had more traction and grip. In turn, the athletes had an easier time controlling the ball, which also made for more exciting games.
This design choice stuck to this day. The appearance of the basketball brought by the brilliant minds of Naismith and Spalding is still used by many modern sporting goods manufacturers.
Nonetheless, the quest for the ‘perfect’ ball for basketball is still ongoing. In 2001, the Spalding brand was at it again as it developed a ball with a built-in pump. This new ball has a reduced risk of leakage. Also, in 2006, the Spalding company made a new ball for the NBA. This updated design has a microfiber composite shell instead of leather.
What is the Reason for the Black Lines on Basketballs?
Like the pebbles on a basketball’s surface, the ball’s black lines have a specific purpose. These lines show players where to hold the ball for the proper grip. Further, the lines help the player grip and steer the ball better while dribbling. Again, if the ball doesn’t have pebbles or lines, controlling it would be a difficult endeavor.
Why is a Basketball Orange?
Each aspect of the basketball’s ball isn’t only for show, especially its orange color. It’s still possible to see basketballs in different colors. For example, some sports shops sell basketballs in black, blue, red, or a combination of these three colors. However, official basketball leagues only use orange basketballs because of one specific reason – visibility.
Tony Hinkle, a legendary coach of different sports, is the father of the orange-colored basketball. Before the late 1950s, basketballs used to be brown. But some players complained that the brown color would sometimes blend with the surroundings, making it difficult to keep track of the ball.
Hinkle decided to contract the help of the Spalding Company. This move turned out to be a wise decision as the two innovators transformed the old brown basketball into an orange one in 1957. But it wasn’t until the 1958 NCAA Finals in Louisville, Kentucky when the orange basketball first debuted in an official match.
What are the Sizes of Basketballs?
Although all basketballs have the same shape, you can still find different sizes for these balls across the market. Here’s a quick guide for the different basketball sizes:
The dots or pebbles on the basketball are about 35,000 in number encompassing the 29.5-inch circumference of the ball. These components allow players to control and grip the ball properly. Otherwise, the basketball would have a high risk of bouncing in different directions when dribbled.