Based on our many years of experience, here are some hints on how to choose and care for your basketballs and ensure you get a consistent quality play from them for a maximum period.

Choose the Right Size Ball

The table below shows the FIBA recommended sizes of basketball depending on age and gender. If in doubt, check with your school, club or team coach what size is being used. Smaller balls (sizes 3 and 1 are also available for younger players or just for a fun way to develop ball handling skills. 

Specialist balls (over-size, over-weight, with grip handling markings) for skills development are also available, including size 8 and 9 for improving shooting accuracy.

Size Type Circumference Weight Notes on basketball
7 Men 750–770 mm
29.5–30.3 in
580–620 g
20–22 oz
Men and boys ages 15 and up. This is the official size for men's high school, college, and professional.
6 Women/Youth 715–730 mm
28.1–28.7 in
510–550 g
18–19 oz
Boys ages 12–14. Women and girls ages 12 and up. This is the official size for women’s high school, college, and professional.
5 Junior  685–700 mm
27.0–27.6 in
465–495 g
16–17 oz
Boys and girls ages 9–11 years old. This is the standard junior basketball.

Use the Right Ball for the Playing Surface

Basketballs made of different materials make them more or less suitable for different types of use on various surfaces. All basketball descriptions include a guide as to there suitability for use on indoor and outdoor playing surfaces. This is closely linked to the durability of the ball.

Rubber balls are the most durable and suited to use on outdoors surfaces (though sharp stones and thorns should still be avoided). They can also be used indoors for training if amount of grip is not an important consideration.

Balls with synthetic leather covers are usually listed for indoor and outdoor use. The synthetic covers are fairly durable, though not as much as the rubber balls. The feel is similar to, but not as grippy as, the genuine leather or composite leather covers. The combination of durability and feel makes them ideal for training.

Genuine leather or composite leather balls are suited to indoor use only and will wear excessively if used on outdoor playing surfaces. The softer nature of the cover gives the best grip and control of the ball, making these balls suitable for match-play.

Care of the Valve

Use the right size needle adapter. Most basketballs have a valve that requires a 2mm needle adapter. 

Always lubricate the needle adapter with soft-soap or water.

Do not force the needle adapter in to the valve - if it is not going in with reasonable pressure check the size and lubrication.


Basketballs have a fairly low pressure for optimum use of 8-9 psi (compared to car tyres 30+psi and bike tyres 60-80 psi) and this is normally marked on the ball near the valve. If you don’t have a ball pressure gauge the best way to achieve this is to initially inflate until only just firm / round / holding shape, then to test the bounce (by procedure described below), if necessary add a small amount of additional air and test again, repeatedly, until the bounce is correct.

Check pressure / bounce test and top up as required on a regular basis.

Bounce test:

  • Hold the ball at shoulder height over a hard smooth surface (i.e. similar to playing surface)
  • Release the ball (i.e. drop it don’t push it)
  • Watch how far the ball bounces back
  • Pressure is right when the ball bounces to approximately waist height (i.e. between 2/3s and 3/4s of the height dropped from.

!Take care not to over-inflate!

Over-inflation can permanently damage your ball.

It can cause:

  • Mis-shaping of the ball
  • Excessive bounce
  • Seams of the outer cover to split
  • The ball to burst.

Hand pumps are safer to use than electric ones, where over inflation is more of a risk.

Given the right selection and care you should get good use of your ball(s), the only essential bit of kit for basketball!


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