Your Guide To Inflating A Basketball The Right Way!

Inflating a basketball the right way, does it even matter? In this article I will explain why it does and the right way to fill a basketball with the correct PSI. PSI stands for pounds per square inch.

Inflating a basketball the right way is important, for bounce, feel and longevity for the basketball. I want you to picture how many times you enter the gym and the first 10 guys step on the court to play the very first game of the day. Now tell me, do you choose any random basketball to use for the game? Or is there generally two or three guys deciding which ball bounces and feels the best.

This is why in this guide I will show you how to inflate a basketball the right way. Once you read the instructions you will never have to read them again and your set for life. You can pass this information on to whomever you wish, let’s get started.

If you are interested in checking out the best basketball inflation tools then you can find them by Clicking Here! The link will take you to

Purchasing A Hand Air Pump

If anything, you can always purchase a small hand pump for relatively cheap, here is one I recommend that is small and can fit in your backpack that you can use for basketball no problem. It comes with a 3 inflation needle, the pump measuring at 7.5″ with an extension hose and a pressure gauge. You also get a carrying bag for this hand pump.

The inflation gauge is used to measure the PSI, to allow you to pump the basketball perfectly. This air pump is inexpensive and has a lot of positive reviews.

Franklin Sports Ball Maintenance Kit

An alternative pump that I could recommend is this one by TONUNI. It measures about 8 inches gives you a couple of needles, 2 plastic needle/nozzle, a rubber hose. The advantages to this one, it’s very inexpensive, small enough to fit in your bag and can pump up different balls along with your bike tires if you wantdiver

The disadvantages are that it does not have a pressure gauge to measure the PSI in the basketball. If you already have a gauge for your basketball then great, this will be the cost of a coffee and a donut depending on where you live.

Who Cares About the Proper Amount Of Air In A Basketball

Every new basketball you buy has a recommended amount of PSI you should fill the Basketball with air. The recommendation is on the box that comes with the basketball that details the amount of PSI needed. The amount of PSI needed is anywhere from 7 to 9 pounds of air pressure, most Men’s 29.5″ basketballs are usually 8 PSI.

There is a reason for that, due to materials used in the basketball, over-inflating the ball will could cause issues such as losing air and possibly creating a small leak on the rubber air valve. You are stretching the air valve inside the basketball and with the added pressure of a bouncing ball, it is easy to create a small leak where the air valve is located as it is the weakest.

Having the right amount of air in a basketball is important, you are playing the game and you want the basketball to do what you want it to do in order to score. Here are some things you will notice about the over and under-inflated basketball.

Over Inflated Basketball

  • Less likely to hit the rim and go in.
  • Longer rebounds off the rim.
  • Harder to dribble and control.
  • Less room for error dribbling and shooting.

Under Inflated Basketball

  • More forgiving to the rim, more baskets.
  • Heavier basketball
  • Need to pound the ball into the ground.
  • Slower bounce.

It’s clear this can affect your play when the ball doesn’t bounce properly. Although when I was younger working on my shot I used to love using the hardest rim to shoot on and a very bouncy ball. When shooting there was little room for error.

Even filling the Basketball to the balls’ right poundage does not mean it will perform on every court you play on. Some courts are hard such as outdoor courts. Some courts like indoor hardwood courts are not made the same and weaken over time.

Filling every basketball to 8 PSI will not give you the same bounce either. Use your judgment, if you need to add a little more air or release some, do so.


Step By Step Guide To Inflating A Basketball

Things you will need:

  1. Hand Pump
  2.  Inflation Needle
  3. Inflation Gauge
  4. Basketball

Step 1- Attach Air Pump And Needle

Attach the fat round end of the inflation needle to the opening of the pump by using the threads to screw it on. If there is a hose that goes with it attach the hose to the pump and then the inflation needle to the hose.

Step 2 – Insert The Needle Into The Hole

Grab your basketball that needs to be inflated and find the air valve hole, its usually black in color. Take the inflation needle and carefully stick it into the air valve. If you are having trouble putting the needle in, wet the needle with water and stick it firmly in the basketball’s air valve half way.

Step 3 – Pumping The Ball

Give the ball a necessary amount of air until the ball feels firm but not hard. Do not over pump the basketball, It is better to under pump then to over pump.

Step 4 Measuring The PSI

If your Inflation gauge already has a needle attached to it then stick the needle into the basketball. It should read the PSI. If you need to unscrew the inflation needle from the air pump and screw it unto the inflation gauge so it is attached.

Read the number that the inflation gauge’s arrow is pointing to. For this example, if we are shooting for 8 PSI and it shows just under the needle, then take out the needle from the ball and give the basketball a few more pumps of air and measure again. Repeat if necessary.

Step 5 – Testing the Basketball’s Bounce

Take the needle out, stand still hold the basketball out in front of your chest and drop the ball, it should drop around waist height. Bounce the ball a few times to see how it feels. Repeat Step 4 if necessary.

No Pump, No Tools, No Problem

In the next couple of sections, I will present to you some solutions on how to pump a ball without a pump, how to release air with and without an inflation needle and how to measure PSI without an inflation gauge (sort of on the last one).

Several Ways To Pump Up A Ball Without A Needle Or Pump.

1 – Using a balloon it is possible to pass air from the ballon to the Basketball. If you have a needle it is as simple as blowing up the balloon as big as you can without popping it. Take the balloon and pinch it off to prevent the air from leaving but do not tie it. Get the needle or anything that is small enough to transfer the air into the basketball and fit in the air valve. Wrap the balloon’s rubber opening around the needle or makeshift tip as tight as possible, you may hold it while trying to prevent air from leaking. Stick the needle into the valve and voila.

2- Just like how I showed you how to release the air from the basketball with the ink tube holder from a pen down below. You can simply do the same and stick it into the basketball valve and blow it into the ink tube holder transferring the air into the basketball. Use your own discretion and don’t pass out, this isn’t easy.

3 – Using compressed air will work but only if the ball is slightly flat and it is your last hope. Compressed air is a bottle with a long needle used for cleaning dust and lint from electronics and office supplies. How you want to use it is by sticking the needle into the basketball valve and squeeze the trigger for a couple of seconds at a time. The can will get cold fairly quickly so you want to gradually squeeze and stop. Do not do this frequently to fill up your basketballs as this isn’t very cost-effective.

If the above is not possible when arriving at your destination because you are strapped for time. You can simply do one of the following:

  1. Visit a bike shop or mechanic shop.
  2. Visit any gas station and ask the attendant or you may have to pay for the air.
  3. Go to the basketball court and ask around, some people carry a small hand pump with them in their bag.


Several Ways To Deflate A Basketball With And Without A Needle

Pump Needle

1- With the needle from the pump, you will only need the needle so you may have to unscrew it from the pump itself. Lubricate the needle and apply pressure to the valve until the needle goes through. The air will start to come out of the ball and you will hear the noise of the air leaving the needle, maintain consistent pressure. This can take several minutes so be patient and try not to ruin the valve by sticking the needle further than it needs and moving it around to get a bigger hole or you may end up creating a small leak in the ball.


Paper Clip

2- With a paperclip, you can release air from the basketball. Lubricate the end of the paper clip ( You will have to unfold the paper clip so you have the pointy end that looks like a needle) and stick it into the valve slowly until you can hear the air being released from the ball. You may need a second person to help you squeeze the ball to apply more pressure for the air to release. If you do not have a Partner place the ball while you are sitting in a chair in between your legs and use your knees to squeeze the ball as you hold the paper clip in the valve.


Broken Pen

3- With a broken pen take the pen apart, fetch the plastic ink tube and release the end of the tip from it. If you can see how much ink is in there cut away the part with the ink and used the cleanest part of the holder. If there is still ink run it through water or blow it out. Use the empty ink tube holder and see if you can stick it in the valve. You may need to cut the end at an angle so that the end is sharp and can easily stick through, again lubricate it so it can slide in.


Measuring PSI Without An Inflation Gauge

Unfortunately, this method does need an inflation gauge but for only to measure the basketball’s PSI once, I understand not many people do and when they pump up a ball they are gauging it by bounce and feel. You may find this works for you, my suggestion is if you can find an inflation gauge from a friend or anybody and pump it to 8 pounds per square inch, then notice how high it bounces by standing and holding the ball at chest height and dropping it and observing how high the ball drops at 8 PSI in relation to your own body height.

Now the next time you fill-up the same basketball with air you can use the method of holding the ball and dropping it chest height to see how high it bounces in relation to your own body.  It’s simple.

Just remember that because you filled the basketball up with 8 PSI and play it on one court does not mean you will have the same bounce on another surface. This is why you need to refer to the basketball’s PSI on the box and if that is long gone, use your judgment.


Hope this was helpful in many ways, please feel free to take a look around and view our other content.


Further Readings:





Recent Posts