The size of a basketball matters to a child, a young athlete, and a teen. In basketball a coach will continuously stress the importance of the fundamentals of the game of basketball. Shooting, dribbling, passing, and defense etc. How can we build fundamental skills from the time a 6-year-old touches the basketball when he/she is shooting a Men’s ball that is too big and heavy for them.
How do you know what size of a basketball to buy for your child? Choosing the right basketball will depend on their age, skill level and the type of surface they are playing on such as concrete or hardwood. Basketballs are numbered in sizes from a mini ball which is a size 3 to a Men’s ball which is a size 7.
Over the course of this article we will discuss the right basketball for the young athlete from a 4-year-old all the way to 14+, male or female we got you covered.
If you are interested in checking out the best basketballs you can buy, then you can find them by Clicking Here! The link will take you to Amazon.com
It seems like North America is the only continent that goes by the size of the basketball by measuring the circumference in inches and not by the size the rest of the world goes by such as a number system, #1 -7. Basketball in Europe specifically uses size 7 for Men’s basketballs also known as 29.5″ on this side of the world. Size 6 for Women’s basketball is known as 28.5″ in North America.
Provided below is a size chart with general recommendations of age, size, and level of play pertaining to each of the balls. I would like to point out that the size of the ball is generally the sized used for competitive play.
BASKETBALL SIZE CHART
|3+ boys, girls||3||11 oz||22″|
|6+ boys, girls||5||17 oz||27″|
|12+ boys, girls||6||20 oz||28.5″|
|14+ boys||7||22 oz||29.5″|
Mini Basketball – Size 3
- A small ball with a Team logo on it.
- Great for ages 3+.
- The circumference is around 22″.
These are the basketballs you win at a fare or you buy at the stadium with your favorite basketball team logo on them. They are more of a novelty item. Children love these balls and are great to play with on a small hoop like the fisher price hoops or even an adjustable basketball rim that willlower in height. They are basically great for any age.
As a kid, we use to play with these balls all the time and use them to do all sorts of dunks with them. One thing to note is that when you do get one of these balls, more often than not they have too much air in them. You will be able to tell based on how high they bounce, making it difficult for the child to control the basketball.
If you have one you can take an inflation needle used to pump up a basketball and let out some air out of the ball, no pump is needed just the needle. Don’t have an inflation needle? Refer to my article Your guide to inflating a basketball the right way? in this article, there are alternate methods with the use of household items you can use to deflate a basketball without an inflation needle. Just call yourself McGuyver after your done reading the article.
Youth Basketball – size 5
- Used by players 5 to 11 yrs old.
- Think of an orange rubber basketballs
- 27″ Circumference
These types of basketballs are the ones you see in school gyms from elementary to high school, and it doesn’t matter what court you play on as they are rubber and can be used for indoor-outdoor. These basketballs generally last a long while as long as you take care of them and don’t use them for soccer or sitting on them. If playing with them on concrete the grip will wear out quicker than if you were playing with the basketball indoors. A lot of high school phys-ed classes still use this basketball for free time and their basketball unit when on a budget.
Women’s Basketball – Size 6
- 28.5″ Circumference usually marked on the basketball itself.
- Girls/Women will use this at 12+ up
- Boys use this 12 to 14 yrs old.
Women’s basketballs are generally used at the junior high level for boys grade 7 to 9 or ages 12 to 14 years old. While girls start with this ball at the age of 12 and will play with this 28.5″ ball throughout high school, college and at the pro level.
How can you tell the difference between a Women’s ball and a Men’s ball? The Women’s ball has a 28.5″ engraved in the leather of the ball near the inflation hole. Most balls will have this but not all.
Men’s Basketball – Size 7
- 29.5″ Circumference
- Used by boys 14+
- Official Size of every High School League and Pick up ball.
The size of a Men’s official basketball of the NBA and many other leagues is around 9 and a half inches (9.5″) in diameter. The circumference of the ball is 29 and a half inches (29.5″). Weighs anywhere from 20 to 22 oz and has a pounds per square inch of Air of 8 ( 8 PSI), overseas this is considered a size 7 basketball.
The rim’s radius is 9 inches and the diameter is 18 inches. The circumference of the rim is 56.5 inches. So, in other words, the ball is half the size of the rim, believe it or not, many kids and players when they realize that two Men’s basketballs can almost fit side by side in the hoop they are very surprised. Click here! to find out more about 2 basketball fitting through the rim at the same time.
Different Types Of Basketballs
Leather – Leather basketballs such as the Wilson Evolution or Wilson Solution are the cream of the crop when it comes to basketballs for the sport. You’re looking at anywhere from $50 to $120 dollars for one of these basketballs.
The reason for the use of a leather ball in a basketball game is the feel and comfort. Its resistance to sweat which prevents the ball from becoming slippery and unable to handle. When you practice many hours of basketball and work on your skills, you want ultimate control of the ball. The idea is to get the basketball to do what you want it to do.
Do not use leather basketballs on outdoor surfaces such as concrete, You will wear out the ball and have it looking 10 years old in no time. Also, when buying a brand new leather basketball sometimes they need to be worked in so keep that in mind if your playing with it and it feels off.
Synthetic Composite – If you have been playing basketball long enough you will be able to tell the difference between synthetic composite and a leather basketball based just on touch. Synthetic basketballs do not provide the grip a leather ball does but are still great basketballs to use indoor or outdoor, they have a soft feeling to the ball and no need to work the ball in.
Just make sure you know what type of basketball you are buying for the surface. Not all synthetic basketballs are both indoor/outdoor. Sometimes synthetic basketballs can easily get scuffs on the ball or leave marks on the court depending, on which ball you get. So make sure you do your research. I always like to look at reviews on amazon, it is extremely helpful in making decisions.
Rubber – The classic rubber ball you see in almost all high school gyms, bright orange flying around the hardwood (also comes in many other colors). These balls have great grip for dribbling and control when shooting, they can bounce off the rim and become unforgiving leaving not a whole lot of room for mistakes. These basketballs are inexpensive and are hard to damage, they are resilient and will last quite a while. Mostly used for outdoor, pick a name brand that is well known and respected for an extra couple bucks and it can last a long while.
There are a ton of different companies that make basketballs if you stick to the well-known brands they will last longer and perform as they should. Here is a list of brands in no particular order.
- Wilson official basketball of the NBA.
- Molten (Used in Europe Pro Leagues)
Those are generally the more popular ones. Again I would read the reviews before buying and identify which basketball size and the surface is right for your child to play with.
What Basketball Should I Buy?
So now that you have figured out the material and what size of the basketball that you should buy for your child, you now want to know which brand of ball you think would be best. Is this next section I will list a couple of basketballs from each size category that I recommend so you get an idea as to what you are looking for:
Size 3 – Mini ball
This Steph curry mini ball is made by Under Armor it’s bright and easy to keep your eye on it. Kids know who Steph Curry is these days and want to shoot just like him. Click Here For The Ball.
This colorful mini basketball is another great option, it comes with a pump and has good grip for children to handle and play with. Click Here For The Ball.
I am recommending a 3rd ball by Spalding based on its reviews and colorways which I think kids really like then just your typical orange boring looking ball. Click Here For The Ball. Again these balls can be used indoor or outdoor.
Size 5 – Basketball
A great basketball that is made for outdoor play is the Spalding basketball called NBA Street, It is easy to handle with the grip design and without paying a steep dollar this is a good option. Outdoor balls can be used indoors but are not the most reactive balls (bouncy) to playing indoors with but still does its job. Click Here For The Ball.
If your looking for both an indoor and outdoor basketball in one then the Spalding All-Conference Basketball may be a good choice. With excellent grip and control, it has the feel of a leather ball and should last a while. Click Here For The Ball.
Size 6 – Women’s Basketball 28.5″
Onto the bigger basketballs, I will list an indoor, an outdoor and an indoor/outdoor for the women’s ball and Men’s balls. Remember if you are ordering to click the drop-down menu and order the correct size.
I really like this outdoor ball, if bringing it to a court it’s really not hard to lose you can spot it pretty quickly if you put it down to play a game, as the ball has bright colors. It bounces well, has good grip and for the price you can’t go wrong. Click Here For The Ball.
Indoor/Outdoor ball I would go with the Wilson NCAA Composite Leather Basketball. It has soft grip with deep grooves for better handling.Click Here For The Ball. Another great option for indoor/outdoor basketball by Wilson is the Wilson NCAA Replica Game Basketball. Click Here For The Ball.
So this indoor ball is the first on this list that is leather, it’s the cream of the crop and these balls take some time to get worked in to get that softer touch then already presented when you buy. I assure you most players don’t even realize the ball needs to be worked in and just by playing it will do just that. This basketball is a little more expensive but if playing only indoors like the ball is made for, it will definitely last a very long time. Click Here For The Ball.
Honorable Mention: The Official Wilson NCAA Game Basketball, the one they officially use in Women’s college basketball. Amazing moisture absorption, which means greater control of the ball. Click Here For The Ball.
Size 7 – Men’s Basketball 29.5″
The Spalding NBA Street Phantom is specifically designed for outdoor play in mind, it has the sponge rubber design so you get a lot of grip and would take a really long time to wear it down. Worth the buy for the price. Click Here For The Ball.
For the Indoor/outdoor basketball I’m going with Spalding Never Flat Basketball, It holds air in the ball 10 times longer than any other basketball on the market. The materials that went into this basketball are not your typical materials. This is how they are able to keep the ball from losing air. Click Here For The Ball.
No Surprise I am recommending the Wilson Evolution Basketball, It is the only one I play with maybe I’m biased but I have tried a bunch of different balls and by far this is my favorite. The Wilson Evolution Game Basketball is the best basketball I have ever played with Click Here For The Ball.
Honorable Mention is the European Molten brand used in Euro leagues alike around the world, two colorways, you will have people turning heads wondering how the ball feels and shoots. Click Here For The Ball.
Are Indoor And Outdoor Balls The Same?
Indoor and outdoor balls are not the same, please make sure you understand that if you’re going to buy your child a basketball that she/he is going to be playing basketball outside, buy an outdoor ball. If she/he is playing a majority of basketball inside buy an indoor ball. If you buy a leather indoor basketball you will waste your money as they will wear out quickly on the concrete and then you will need to buy another ball within a few weeks.
You can get away with buying an outdoor basketball to play indoor, and save money in the process. There are also indoor/outdoor basketballs which means you can play outside on the concrete or surfaces alike or indoor on the hardwood, it doesn’t matter.
Cost Of A Basketball
Basketballs range in price anywhere from a five-dollar orange basketball to a 99 dollar Wilson basketball. I just want to point out I have had horrible luck with basketballs and don’t keep them very long when taking it along with me to play at a basketball court. I somehow seem to forget it and someone else takes it. So keep that in mind, ask yourself is it worth it to buy a more expensive ball?
If your still not sure bring your son or daughter to the store and have them bounce and test the balls. Ask them how does that ball feel, again you chose the price.
Why Is A Basketball Orange?
Basketballs come in all different colors, but why specifically are most basketballs orange? It is really an easy question to answer. If you think that it is because the players can easily spot the ball, your partly right but it was more for the spectators watching the game and being able to see the ball from where they were sitting. Basketballs were brown and were very difficult to see dribbling on a brown hardwood court. It wasn’t until the late 1950s a man by the name of Tony Hinkle who coached at Butler University decided that he wanted to create a basketball that was more visible to the players and spectators, in came the orange basketball.
Negatives to Using A Ball That’s too Big and Heavy
If your son or daughter is still having trouble with the basketball he/she is using it might be a good idea to downgrade and have them playing with a basketball that is lighter and smaller. The idea is to teach proper fundamentals. How can you teach the proper fundamentals when they are not strong enough and are sacrificing form.
Many times the player is using a Men’s basketball when he should be using a size 5 etc. If your son is doing some of these things while playing it may be time for a new ball.
- Chucking the ball instead of shooting.
- Not enough power to pass the ball.
- Harder to get hand position on the ball on a catch.
- Too heavy to catch the ball when coming fast.
- Harder to shoot the ball over the rim.
- Need to jump high to shoot a free throw.
- 3 pointers are out of the question.
- Sacrificing form.
- Demotivator and confidence killer.
Basketball Training Balls
Training balls are implemented when trying to increase skill and strength in basketball fundamentals such as dribbling shooting and even passing. With the player having a base level of strength, these training balls are introduced by their coach or skills trainer.
A training ball can be a basketball that is twice as heavy as a normal ball or more. While performing different dribbling and shooting drills, the player will find the drills difficult but challenging. Other training balls may be the same weight as a normal ball but have the correct hand placements on the ball for the player to place his hands over top to teach proper shooting. The player may practice proper hand placement every time he picks up the ball, eventually it becoming second nature.
Smart balls are now on the market, you may or may not have seen these around you can now connect your phone to the bluetooth technology in the ball and it can track your make, misses, and shooting percentages. I think we have only seen a small fraction of what is yet to come.
Marking Your Ball
It is really important that when you do buy your son or daughter a basketball, mark the ball with a permanent marker. People may be less inclined to take it home for themselves but rather return it as there is a name on the ball. It can be really hard to scrub it off the ball, so you can imagine you wouldn’t want to be caught with it as it screams someone else’s name on the ball.
Taking Care Of Your Basketball
If you live in a cold state or country during the winter months I would advise storing your basketball indoors for safekeeping. The cold has a way of shrinking the basketball by losing its air, it isn’t that big of a deal but if you want the basketball to last I would take care of it and avoid throwing it in the garage in a pile of stuff.
I would also advise not using the basketball for soccer or kicking it, this can put bulges in the ball and scuffs the ball wearing it out. Do not sit on the ball either, you can potentially let the air out or again create a bulge on the side of the ball where the air valve is located. When that happens good luck trying to dribble it.
More On The Importance Of Basketball Fundamentals
Basketball is still growing in popularity, it is the most entertaining sport on the planet in regards to story lines in the NBA. Kids want to shoot three’s like Steph Curry or Dunk like Zion Williamson not realizing that they have spent thousands of hours perfecting their craft.
Which leads to my next point, very rarely will you see someone young who is a basketball prodigy practicing with a ball that they are supposed to. Using a basketball that is right for the child’s age will immediately help them improve their fundamentals. As soon as the ball is too heavy for the child to shoot the child will know and sacrifice all form to get the ball high enough onto the rim.
Think of a weight room exercise such as the barbell curl, you stand erect with perfect form, the bar is heavy enough and your able to maintaining proper form through the movement. Now add 10 more pounds of weight, now you start arching your back, not letting the bar go all the way down because you need the momentum from you rocking the bar upward, add even more weight and you sacrifice more form to get the bar to complete a rep.
The same is the case with young athletes who see the goal and want the ball to go in the basket without air balling it. This is why many more leagues are starting to come out and see the importance of an 8-foot basketball rim for young kids.
Fundamentals first, winning second. This is why European Soccer countries and teams instill Fundamentals at a very young age and they don’t keep track of score until the age of 12 in most countries. This way Coach’s have to focus on fundamentals and not on winning tactics. Hence why many European Countries dominate soccer and produce exceptional talent.
Basketball is already a difficult sport with the adage of adding in a ball that’s too big and heavy, that’s a recipe for disaster, kids don’t like things they are not good at because it`s not fun.
This concludes the article, if you just bought a basketball and need help with filling the ball up with the proper amount of air check out Your Guide To Inflating A Basketball The Right Way.