Have you ever walked into a gym for a pickup game and noticed the only available ball was a dirty, bumpy outdoor ball? Was it ever so bad you couldn’t accurately dribble or shoot?
If so, you aren’t alone. While your basketball journey may have started with shooting hoops outside at the park or in the driveway, practicing in an indoor gym with a hardwood floor is the only way to take your game to the next level.
However, playing in a nice gym doesn’t make much of a difference when you’re playing with an old, dirty ball. That’s why you need to find a nice, indoor basketball! But with so many options, how will you know which one to pick?
We set out on a mission to find the absolute best indoor basketball, and we’re confident that I’ve found the four best options. All of those are listed below.
- Wilson Evolution: The most popular of the basketballs listed here, and a common choice for competitive leagues. This is a simple choice that you won’t regret.
- Baden Elite Indoor Basketball: Though less popular than the Wilson Evolution, this ball is top-notch quality.
- Spalding NBA Official Game Basketball: The only ball on this list made with genuine leather, the Official NBA Basketball will feel incredible in your hands.
- Molten X-Series GG7X Indoor Basketball: Though it’s more popular overseas, this ball is a favorite around the world.
Who Should Get This?
Unlike most basketball accessories, a basketball is 100% necessary in order to play the sport. Heck, you can practice your dribbling and passing without a hoop, but you can’t practice much at all without a basketball! In that way, the following balls are great for any basketball player. However, each ball has certain features or aspects that make it more attractive to certain people.
These basketballs are approved for competitive leagues across the world. If you’re a coach, player, or league administrator, then these basketballs should work for you. These balls are meant for indoor courts, though, so they are not the best options if you like hooping outside.
Best Indoor Basketball: What to Consider?
The main aspects to look out for when choosing a basketball are grip/material, bounce, durability, and air retention.
A ball’s material is one of the main components in determining whether it is an indoor or outdoor ball. The three main materials used today are rubber, composite leather, and genuine leather. You’ll notice that none of the balls listed are made primarily of rubber, as that’s the least desirable material for an indoor basketball.
One of the clearest tells that a ball is made cheaply is when it doesn’t have a crisp bounce. While this is sometimes due to air pressure, it can also be a result of a low-quality ball. Certain balls need to be overfilled with air in order to bounce properly, but that makes it much harder to shoot with touch. Always look for ones that operate well with a moderate amount of air.
As they are often more expensive than outdoor balls, indoor balls need to be durable. Be sure to read till the end of the article for some tips on how to make your ball last longer. Having a nice basketball is great, but not if you need to replace it with a new one every year!
Though advances in technology have made this less of a concern, some balls tend to go flat more often than others. A flat ball is no fun to play with, so a ball that can hold a consistent air pressure is absolutely invaluable.
Best Indoor Basketball: Our Picks
The Molten X-Series is the official basketball of FIBA, basketball’s global competition. It’s made of composite leather, like most of the other options listed here, which gives it a nice grip and feel.
This ball is the ideal option for players who want an indoor ball to practice with, especially if they’re working on a jump shot. The additional panels and contrast coloring makes it a favorite for NBA shooters who like to watch how much their shots rotate in the air.
Though it’s very popular in much of the world, the Molten X-Series is not very common in competitive games in the United States. There’s a chance you will be thrown off by the extra groove-lines in the ball, but many players feel it gives more control since it makes you more aware of where your hands are on the ball.
The Wilson Evolution is the most popular basketball in gyms across the United States, and it’s easy to see why. The pebbled composite leather is comfortable and durable. This is the kind of ball that can last you 5 or more years, assuming you take good care of it. The extra cushion makes it easy to both catch and dribble.
While the ball’s grip is usually great, it’s moisture-wicking technology can actually give the ball a sticky feeling at times. This problem isn’t bad enough to affect your ability to play well, but it is something to note.
The feel of a genuine leather basketball is amazing. It doesn’t have the same cushion feel that composite leather often has, but it has the best feel and grip of any ball on this list. It retains air very well and feels great while dribbling or shooting. Despite all of this, there are some downsides.
Unfortunately, as it is only made in a size 7, 29.5” model, this ball is not a good option for female players. In addition, the ball takes some time to break in. You need to spend some time playing around with it before using it in a game. Finally, genuine leather is not as durable as the composite leather used in most other basketballs.
The Baden Elite is without a doubt the most underrated basketball on this list. It is similar to the Wilson Evolution in many ways, though its outside layer of composite leather feels firmer and less cushioned.
The Baden Elite is a great option for competitive players looking for a ball that can be used in-game and in-practice. It has a strong grip but avoids the sticky feeling of the Wilson Evolution. It’s also durable. You can expect to use it for several years before it starts to break down, assuming you take good care of it.
Useful Tips and Resources
One important thing to keep in mind is that all of these basketballs, except the NBA official ball, come in different sizes to accommodate youth and women’s leagues.
The largest size, size 7 29.5”, is used for men’s leagues ages 13+. However, that can vary depending on the league. Women’s leagues use a size 6 28.5”, which is also the preferred size for some boys youth basketball leagues. Finally, many leagues for young, beginning basketball players (ages 10 and under or so) use a size 5 27.5”.
Also, be sure to inflate the ball to the proper level. Every ball has the ideal air pressure range imprinted on it, and you should always check before pumping. If you have any questions on how to pump up a ball, this YouTube video is a good place to start!
Finally, if you’re going to spend money on an indoor ball you have to take good care of it. The most important thing to remember is never to use your ball outside! Blacktop courts will tear up the leather surface, making it much less smooth and comfortable in your hands.
Don’t ever kick a ball or throw it against a wall too hard, as this can lead to “eggs” on the side. Avoid playing on dusty courts, and quickly wipe it off with a dry towel if the surface of the ball feels dusty. Finally, never, under any circumstances, let your leather ball get wet.
Follow those rules and your new ball should last several years!
While there are a lot of options for indoor basketballs, the four listed above are the best options out there. However, that is just our opinion.
What do you think? Did we get these ratings right? Did we miss an indoor ball that you love? Let me know your thoughts!