The 10 Best Outdoor Basketballs to Buy In 2020

Basketball, Reviews

Basketball is one of the most popular pastimes in America today.

The sport comes second only to American football in popularity. According to Statista, the share of Americans who played basketball in 2018 aged 18-29 years stood at 27%, while those aged 30-49 years stood at 23%. This popularity doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon.

Improving your skill in basketball without the proper equipment such as a good-quality ball is near impossible. The ball is the center of the game, so it makes sense to invest in a premium ball to get better at the game.

Even though you’re not playing professionally, an excellent-quality basketball is still an essential requirement. The best outdoor basketball can help you to perfect those dunks, jazz-up your dribble mechanics, and up those three-pointers, improving your skill as well as your overall field goal percentage.

Video: What is a player’s exact shooting percentage?

Features to consider in Good Outdoor Basketball

Basketballs come in all manner of brands, designs, and sizes. There isn’t just one type of ball available, as some are suited for indoor playing courts, while others are made especially for outdoor play. Still, some balls are larger than others to take into account the age and skill of the player.

These are some of the most important factors to consider before purchasing your next basketball:

Size

One ball size doesn’t suit all players. Basketballs are designed in a variety of sizes to suit players of all ages. There are different balls for men, women, and children, as well as for amateur players and professional players. As a rule, new players and children play with 27.5-inch circumference balls, intermediate players and women with 28.5-inch circumference balls, and professionals and men play with standard regulation 29.5-inch circumference basketballs.

Material

The NBA uses purely leather balls for indoor-court play. They tried to introduce composite leather balls in 2006. Still, this failed experiment didn’t go down well with the players as the basketballs were too slippery, which forced the Association to resort back to using all-leather balls.

However, a leather ball doesn’t stand up to the wear-and-tear resulting from the outdoor court play, whereas a ball made with composite materials or rubber allows players to be more flexible and is more suited to outdoor play.

Performance

The overall performance of your ball is an essential factor.

Performance depends on your personal basketball-related goals and what you want to achieve from the game. Are you playing for fun as a casual pastime? Are you playing to prepare for a college or professional audition? Where will you use your ball? All these questions will determine the price and quality of the ball you need.

Price

As with any other product, basketballs come in different price brackets. Rubber basketballs are the cheapest; they cost, on average, $15. Composite leather basketballs come next on the price ladder, and they cost approximately $25 – $50.

The most expensive basketballs are indoor court all-leather balls costing in the region of $150.

The Best Outdoor Basketballs in 2020

1. Spalding NBA Street – Editor’s Choice

Why we like it: The best outdoor basketball needs to be durable, have superior grip, and significant bounce. This Spalding outdoor basketball delivers on all these criteria to make it to the top of our best outdoor basketball list.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

Expect nothing less from the official partner of the NBA! Spalding produced a winner with this basketball that has received consistently excellent ratings on Amazon.

The rubber on this ball has a soft and pleasant feel to it. Also, the pebbles and deep channel design deliver a good grip, which means the ball won’t get excessively wet and slippery in rainy weather. It also retains air well and won’t quickly deflate in colder temperatures. These qualities alone are well worth it to ensure that you enjoy an uninterrupted game.

Durability

This premium street basketball features performance rubber covers that are highly durable on outdoor asphalt or concrete courts and can stand up to the rigors of outdoor hazards like metal, stones, and thorns. It retains its strength, inflation, and bounce, for longevity and durability.

Value

For a starter ball, the Spalding NBA Street Basketball undoubtedly delivers value as it’s very affordable. It offers real value for your money, considering its high-quality construction and design to match the skills of beginner adults and young children.

Pros
  • It offers a superior bounce on asphalt, concrete or acrylic paint outdoor courts
  • Incredibly durable – designed to last
  • Ideal for teaching beginner players and children
  • It comes fully-inflated so you can begin playing immediately
  • It comes with an unbeatable price
Cons
  • Some balls succumb to leaks on the seam
  • Not suitable for professional play

2. Spalding NBA Street Phantom

Why we like it: The love the design of this ball. The cover provides an excellent aesthetic, feel, and grip on the ball that gives the required abrasion and strength, while the carcass gives the ball’s inner components structure.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

The NBA Street Phantom basketball features a sponge rubber design with soft-grip technology that feels pleasant to the touch. This design provides a soft but durable cover with wide-channel grooves for improved recognition and incredible grip that stands up to the rigors of the outdoor court. The wide grooves also help to keep the ball in your hand, giving you superior control, particularly when it’s dirty or wet.

Durability

The durability of this ball is excellent, and it is sure to last you for years. The outer surface and the molding of the carcass enhances the longevity and durability of the product. If you’re playing on a particularly dirty outdoor court or wet weather, then the strength of this ball, how well it holds air, and its ability to resist dirt and water will ensure that you don’t have to stop your game.

Value

This ball has a median price, which is excellent value for money and considering its premium features. It is well worth it. It is the ideal ball for casual play and depending on the size perfect for children learning the game.

Pros
  • Soft-Grip Technology enhances excellent performance on all manner of outdoor courts
  • It is not too heavy
  • It is shipped inflated hence is game-ready
  • Perfectly balanced with hardly any wobble
  • It comes with a limited 1-year warranty
Cons
  • As it consists of rubber, it can feel overly-bouncy and gives less feedback to the player
  • The seams could be stronger

3. Wilson Killer Crossover

Why we like it: We like the sponge rubber cover on this vibrant ball that works on any outdoor surface, be it concrete, asphalt, or acrylic paint. The pebbled channels also give the player the perfect grip in all game conditions; whether it’s sunny or rainy, this ball won’t let you down.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

The Wilson Killer Crossover features an Optima sponge rubber cover, which enhances the performance of the ball in any outdoor courts. The wide channels increase grip ability and control, and the pressure lock bladder keeps the ball at optimal pressure. The exceptional grip makes this the perfect ball with which to practice your free throws or dunks.

Durability

Whether you’re playing in the sun, rain or snow, this ball ensures that you can still enjoy your game. The covers consist of rubber, but the basketball is still able to replicate the consistent bounce in a composite leather basketball.

Value

The colors are vibrant; you can’t miss this ball or lose it quickly in play. It is a lovely ball for children as it holds their attention and provides an excellent grip.

The price isn’t bad either, and you are guaranteed quality. In its class, and with that excellent price, these balls are among the best.

Pros
  • It features vibrant and eye-catching colors
  • An excellent basketball for recreational use
  • It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use
  • It produces the consistent bounce in a composite leather ball
  • This ball won’t get lost; it’s easy to spot in a sea of monochrome basketballs
Cons
  • The colors on the ball fade after some time
  • Not as durable as other balls in its category

4. Spalding NBA Zi/O

Why we like it: We love the strict specifications that are applied when making this ball. It is ideal for serious players practicing to get into a major league, or for college ballplayers honing their craft. The weight of the ball even matches the requirements of the NBA so players can get a real feel for it, as it reacts the same way as it would as if they were playing in a championship game in the NBA.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

These basketballs consist of a composite leather cover as opposed to the all-leather balls used in the NBA for indoor play. It comes foam-backed, which gives it an excellent bounce whether you’re playing on an indoor or outdoor court. The Spalding NBA Zi/O composite cover is tournament-level and has a soft, slightly tacky feel, which makes the ball incredibly comfortable to palm. This ball also has full pebbling with a traditional channel design for a high-quality look and stable grip.

Durability

The Spalding NBA Zi/O has a superior craft and quality that are ideally suited for outdoor court conditions. The superior seams maintain an airtight seal so that you don’t wind up playing with a deflated ball mid-game.

It also packs sponge rubber and butyl that increases the exceptional overall feel of the ball. While you may get some wear-and-tear and peeling after some time due to playing in rough outdoor courts, the ball does well to retain its shape due to the nylon winding incorporated into its design.

Value

For the serious and dedicated basketball player, this ball delivers real value as it is cost-effective and easy to handle. You get a median-priced ball that mimics the quality, size, and weight of the basketballs used by championship players in the NBA. This enables you to practice with real-life conditions.

Also, this ball has what it takes to withstand the hardcore training put in by players over long practice hours. What’s more, it comes with Spalding’s 1-year limited warranty.

Pros
  • The deep channels allow the ball to maintain a steady flight path
  • It holds its inflation well with decreased temperatures
  • Foam-backed design with full pebbling provides a soft feel and superior grip
  • It comes in the official NBA-approved size and weight
  • It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor courts
Cons
  • It picks up dirt easily
  • It does not come in smaller sizes for intermediate players, women, or younger children

5. Wilson NCAA Replica Game

Why we like it: We love that this basketball has the same patented technologies and features that you’ll find on the NCAA Official Game Ball. We also like the superior moisture-absorbing cover uniquely suited for indoor and outdoor play.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

This NCAA Replica ball comes with durable composite leather construction, much like those found in professional basketballs that offer excellent performance. The tight seals, inlaid channeling and full pebbling is perfect for outdoor playing surfaces like concrete, dirt, asphalt, or acrylic paint. It also has a slightly tacky feel for smooth handling and an excellent grip for better ball control.

Durability

What makes this ball exceptionally durable is the moisture-absorption ability, which gives it a broader appeal among most basketball players, be they casual or professional. The materials used to make this Wilson wick moisture away, keeping the ball dry and in your hands throughout the game.

Value

This ball is excellent for serious younger players because its materials make it superior when practicing handling, control, and flight dynamics. For the price, you get a ball that adheres to all NCAA requirements, delivering serious playtime or practice for young basketball enthusiasts.

Pros
  • It offers a superior grip
  • Wide channel design controls the spin on the ball
  • It’s not too heavy coming in at 1 pound
  • The reinforced cover allows you to play in severe outdoor conditions without damaging the ball too much
  • Affordably priced
Cons
  • It has an inconsistent bounce
  • It only comes in the official basketball size of 29.5 inches

6. Spalding NBA Mini Rubber

Why we like it: We love the small 22-inch size on this ball. It is perfect for young enthusiasts who are looking to up their skills in the game.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

The Spalding Mini features a rubber cover that is durable enough for teaching young players the game. The bright colors help to capture kids’ attention, and there’s no chance of losing sight of the ball during play.

Durability

This ball is for outdoor play. It handles both concrete and dirt surfaces well, retaining its shape and holding in its air.

Value

For the low price, you get a high-quality ball which is just the right size for your tiny Lebron to start learning how to play the game. A regulation ball is too heavy and dangerous for children, and the dime-store ball versions are too light, so this Spalding Mini hits the sweet spot. It also comes with Spalding’s 1-year limited warranty for the ultimate peace of mind.

Pros
  • Perfect for children learning the game or arcade-style games.
  • Excellent quality and design with bright, cute colors.
  • It comes inflated and ready for use.
  • It has the ideal combination of heft, bounce, and grip ability.
  • It bounces well on dirt, and concrete or asphalt.
Cons
  • It is not suitable for professional play
  • It only fits hoops with a 12-inch inside diameter

7. Molten X-Series – BGMX

Why we like it: We love the tracking ability that this ball offers on the court. The design makes it easy for players to anticipate the ball’s reaction and track where its movement is likely to take it.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

The ball has a uniform pebble surface, which provides outstanding grip providing consistent and comfortable handling and precision passing. The brand has also implemented a GIUGIARO 12-panel design that enhances visibility on the court for easy tracking of the ball. Overall, the signature 12-panel design and butyl balder combine superior craftsmanship and innovative technology to produce a high-quality basketball that gives players more ball control and contact.

Durability

The X-design on the composite leather cover of this basketball is perfect for tracking rotation on any outdoor court. The uniform pebbling design, deep ridges and extra seams also add to the quality of the ball and its ability to withstand the rigors of outdoor conditions. When tested, it came up tops for minimal moisture retention, superior bounce, and an airtight seal.

Value

Molten is the official FIBA ball, making it a top choice among elite athletes worldwide. The X-Series basketballs come with superior functionality and enhanced visibility for super-accurate shooting and complex dribbling ability, all for an affordable price.

Pros
  • It is FIBA-approved
  • It features a unique and durable 12-panel design
  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Top industrial design with beautiful contrasting colors that add visibility
  • It comes with a 1-year warranty
Cons
  • It has a touch feature that can negatively impact performance
  • It doesn’t come inflated and game-ready

8. Mikasa BX1000 Premium Rubber

Why we like it: We love how soft this ball feels on the palm, almost as smooth as an all-leather ball despite its rubber construction. This quality makes it perfect for children who love playing the game.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

The Mikasa BX100 has a high-quality rubber cover that gives this ball excellent durability.

Also notable is the full pebble design that improves the grip. Children who have smaller hands can handle this ball comfortably and practice passing and dribbling without much trouble. This premium ball also features nylon winding to ensure consistent bounce and durability. As it is a basketball for outdoor court play, even when dirty or wet, it does not lose its grip, guaranteeing continual practice.

The slightly deeper channels come in handy during release and add to the durability of this ball. The ball is also available in a wide range of sizes to suit all types of players.

Durability

Outdoor courts typically have rough surfaces, which might affect the strength of the ball. The Mikasa BX1000 features premium rubber covers to withstand the harsh outdoor conditions, as well as nylon winding to maintain a tight air seal on the ball.

Value

This ball comes with an affordable price and will last for several years. It also comes with a 1-year warranty in case of any defects.

Pros
  • Highly durable materials
  • Deep pebbling design with a soft, almost leather-like feel
  • It is not too heavy weighing in at 1.28 pounds
  • Nylon winding guarantees long wear and consistent bounce
  • Excellent value for money
  • It comes with a 1-year warranty
Cons
  • It has a long break-in period
  • It does not come inflated and game-ready

9. Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor

Why we like it: We love the nylon windings which help maintain air retention, keeping it in shape longer.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

Designed using the UA GRIPSKING technology, it merely gives you that natural feel when you touch it for the first time. This technology also gives the ball better control. The surface features an extremely dense pebble pattern ensuring that you have optimum contact surface, even when the ball gets dirty. The pebbles on the ball are particularly deep, thus contributing to its overall durability.

Durability

Basketballs made for outdoor court conditions need to be tough enough to withstand the rough conditions. The deep pebbles on this ball ensure that the cover lasts longer while looking good for as long as possible.

It features wider channels than other similar basketballs to ensure that there’s enough channeling to keep the ball in your hand for shooting accuracy. This outdoor basketball also has a full pebbling design, which keeps the ball rough. The nylon windings contribute to the longevity of this basketball by keeping it in shape. The ball also packs a butyl bladder for added air retention capability.

Value

The ball is affordably priced with the requisite quality to match the price tag. It comes with a unique UA Gripskin composite leather material, which provides an unmatched grip. It also features a deep pebble design for an expensive championship-worthy look and a rougher feel, with sturdy nylon windings for the ultimate durability – all features that you’d usually only get in more expensive basketballs.

Pros
  • This ball has excellent air retention
  • It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use
  • It features a microfiber composite leather that offers superior grip
  • It withstands any weather and outdoor court surface well
  • 80% of nylon windings offer excellent shape retention
Cons
  • It is slightly expensive than similar balls in its category
  • This ball is heavier than others in its category

10. Baden Contender

Why we like it: We love the attractive colors of this basketball. Choose the ball that matches your personality, tastes, and style. It’s available in traditional orange, royal blue, red/white, and red/white/navy color combinations.

Editor’s Rating:

Design

This ball comes with a high-quality composite leather cover designed for outdoor courts that offers bounce consistency, excellent grip, and durability. The ball is also symmetrical with a Stealth Soft-Valve System that reduces the amount of exposed rubber, delivering a reliable and predictable game experience. The wide panel configurations also eliminate lumps, which in turn eliminate turnovers.

Durability

The Baden Contender comes with the toughness characteristic of the best outdoor basketballs. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor courts and can withstand the pressures of a paved court as well as the rough terrain of dirt surfaces, enough to last you several seasons. The composite leather material doesn’t pick up marks easily, offering lots of use while looking good for longer.

Value

Although it’s not as soft as similar balls in its class, the Baden Contender is still an excellent ball for recreational use both indoors and outdoors. For the price, you get a basketball with Recessed Stealth Soft-Valve Technology for excellent air retention. It also comes in four attractive color combinations and is available in all three sizes to suit children, intermediate players/women, and professional players/men.

Pros
  • The composite cover proves excellent bounce consistency and grip
  • Wide panel configuration eliminates lumps to prevent spin and inconsistent bounce
  • It comes fully inflated and game-ready
  • Affordably priced
  • It comes in four attractive color combinations
Cons
  • It is not as durable
  • It does not hold air for extended periods

Guide to Buying the Best Outdoor Basketball

When looking for the best outdoor basketball to buy, various factors will help you choose a high-quality product:

Design

An adequately designed ball can mean the difference between improving in the game or remaining stagnant.

Many high-quality basketballs carry the same design of bladder, channeling, threading, and pebbling.

The channel arrangement has an impact on performance; widely-spaced channels give the basketball better handling, enhancing the accuracy of your shooting. Also, consider the pebbling. It provides the ball with sufficient grip and texture, and basketballs with an excellent grip offer better control and handling.

Look out for these essential features to ensure that you purchase the right choice of the ball.

Brand

There are several basketball brands on the market today, but some stand out consistently for producing high-quality basketballs over the years. Some of these top-brands include:

Wilson

Chances are, if you’ve played in a high-school, you’ll have come across a Wilson ball. This sporting brand has been around since 1913. Their basketballs do not have rubber channels which gives them a superior grip.

Spalding

This sporting manufacturer has been around since 1876. They have the added distinction of being the official NBA basketball partner since 1983. Spalding manufactures a vast range of both indoor and outdoor basketballs that will suit a variety of players.

Under Armour

Under Armour are known for their UA-Gripskin composite leather basketballs that offer a great feel and optimal grip with excellent shape retention. Their balls also feature a full-pebble design, which makes the ball more comfortable to control and handle.

Molten

Molten are renowned for their official FIBA basketball. This Japanese manufacturer has been in existence since 1958. Their balls are excellent for both professional and casual play.

Nike

It may surprise you to know that Nike basketballs are rare in the U.S. despite Nike being a premier U.S. brand. This situation came about to keep competition rules in the market. However, they are the first-choice game ball for many international leagues and have one of the best selections of recreational basketballs.

Ball Material

Rubber

Rubber is the cheapest material used to make most basketballs. However, it is incredibly durable and suited to outdoor court conditions.

The only problem with rubber balls is that they feel rough, and could be more challenging to handle because of their weak grip. As such, they are suited for casual play at home or for young children who are new to the game.

Composite Leather

Composite leather is the most popular cover material for many basketballs. This material is more versatile and more affordable than real leather.

Most professional-level balls consist of composite leather because the material is versatile, ideally suited to outdoor courts whilst being durable and affordable. If you are searching for a basketball that will improve your dribbling and dunking skills, as well as improve your shooting percentage, composite leather balls are the best balls to pick.

Basketballs that comprise composite leather can be used immediately and don’t have to be broken in. Premium composite leather basketballs like the Wilson Evolution are indoor-only basketballs, often used in college and high school games.

Check out this video which shows you the difference between composite leather and genuine leather basketballs.

Size

Basketballs vary in size and feature three original size categories suited to different players.

Children’s basketballs measure 27.5 inches in circumference and are ideal for boys and girls who are learning the fundamentals of the game. You’ll find these balls in elementary schools or recreational centers that are teaching young boys and girls youth basketball.

If you are looking to buy a basketball for a young teenager or female player, then the larger 28.5-inch circumference balls will do the trick.

Larger still is the 29.5-inch circumference standard regulation basketball, more suited to a teenage boys over 15 years old and men. This ball is used in men’s basketball games from high school to the NBA. The increased size of the ball means that it weighs more than the smaller basketballs.

Regular basketballs won’t work for smaller kids. We’ve summarized the three main categories of basketballs in the chart below.

Size

Circumference

Player Profile

5

27.5 inches

Youth (boys and girls) aged 9-11

6

28.5 inches

Intermediate players aged 12-14 and women

729.5 inches

Boys aged 15 years or more and men

Air Retention and Deflation

Cheaper basketballs tend to deflate more quickly when the temperature drops.

The escaping air affects the bounce of the ball, which significantly impacts the quality of the game. While all outdoor basketballs deflate with a drop in temperature, high-quality balls will deflate less.

Ensure that you have a ball pump to inflate or deflate your ball during colder and hotter seasons, respectively. This video shows you how to inflate a basketball.

Durability

Outdoor courts are tougher on the ball than indoor courts.

The best outdoor basketball has to contend with damaging environments like metal blackboards, rocks and stones, moisture and metal nets that impart wear-and-tear on the ball.
When looking for an outdoor basketball to buy, ensure that you look for one that’s well-made and guaranteed to last. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself buying replacement balls more often than you’d like.

The Moisture Grip of the Ball

Because you’re playing outdoors, the basketball you use will undoubtedly come into contact with water. Water introduces a whole host of problems.

Basketballs get slippery when wet, which makes handling that much harder. Therefore, it’s essential to know that the ball you choose measures up to the moisture test.

Consider how the ball handles with varying levels of moisture on it, and whether it remains wet even after you towel it off. Try to go for a ball that handles water well, so you don’t have to interrupt your play in rainy weather. This is important if you expect it to rain regularly where you play.

The Feel of the Ball

Without a good feel for the ball, you can’t play basketball as well as you imagine.

Feel gives you that instinct that allows you to score those spectacular three-pointers, and promotes superior dribbling mechanics. The best outdoor basketball gives a tacky synthetic cover feel that can stand up to the elements.

Weight

When choosing a basketball, it is vital to consider a heavy enough ball that can retain its weight over time. Cheaper balls tend to lose their weight as they cannot stand up to the harsh conditions found on outdoor basketball courts. This loss of weight will alter your finely-tuned dribbling and shooting skills.

Most professional basketballs come in standard sizes and with standard weights. Anything lighter or heavier affects the bounce and flight of the ball.

This design, in turn, leads to lower precision and shooting accuracy, affecting your field goal percentage.

Think about your preferences and needs when deciding if a heavier or lighter ball is for you.

Your Skill Level

If you’re teaching children how to play the game on an outdoor basketball court, a rubber ball that is easily replaceable, cheap, and durable is your best bet. However, if you are a competition-level basketball player, or you just take your hobby seriously, you’ll need an NBA-level ball that’s comfortable to handle and designed to maintain and improve your game prowess.

These decisions on which ball to buy based on skill level are vital to avoid you buying the wrong type of ball and wasting valuable money.

Value

The value that comes with a basketball is not just dependent on the price.

Dime store basketballs often consist of cheap materials that won’t last you long, denying you hours of valuable practice. Therefore, when considering value, take into consideration the ball’s useful lifespan compared to its price.

Also, you want a ball that will enhance your skills and not hinder them. You’ll need to choose a ball that’s predictable with consistent bounce — an unpredictable ball adds little real value to the improvement of your game skills.

Consider too if any of basketballs’ governing bodies approve your chosen ball. The NBA, NCAA, and FIBA are some of basketball’s professional governing bodies, and their seal of approval means a lot when it comes to endorsing the quality of a ball.

Furthermore, look for any product warranty terms that come with the ball. Most high-quality manufacturers offer a 1-year limited warranty should any defects occur.

Bottom Line: The Best Outdoor Basketball

There are hundreds of outdoor basketball brands and models in the market, and choosing one can be quite tricky.

As we’ve seen, grip, feel, size, durability, and price are some of the vital factors to consider before you make that all-important purchasing decision.

Remember also to consider court conditions. An outdoor ball needs to have a rubber or composite leather material cover to stay durable and withstand the harsher conditions. Also, the more frequent the play sessions, the more the ball needs re-inflation, so having a ball pump handy is always a good idea.

With our in-depth review, we hope to have helped you zero-in on your choice, and to pick the best outdoor basketball that could make you or aspiring players in your family be the next Steph Curry.