This guide will look at several basketballs aimed at indoor play and explain the traits that make them so good for hardwood.
I have spent more than two decades playing basketball at all different levels. I took that experience and mixed it with both ample research and first-hand accounts to properly review the balls in this article.
The Molten X is my favorite indoor ball due to its unique grip, official appearance, and comfortable exterior.
The ball is everything you could ever need in a gym-based model. It comes with a grip that feels great on your hands and enables you to control the ball as you shoot or dribble. The construction is also reliable. You won’t need to replace it for a long, long time.
If you’re interested in a deeper look at the Molten X, or if you want to check out other top indoor basketballs, I break down the best of the best throughout the following sections.
- Best Overall: Molten X
- Best Leather: Official NBA Game Ball
- Most Versatility: NBA Tack-Soft
- Best Grip: Elite Game Ball
- Best Feel: Evolution
Who Should Get This?
You obviously can’t play basketball without a ball. However, while each model serves the same purpose, they all come with specific aspects or traits that make them useful to specific players. Indoor balls are specifically softer and come with less durable construction than outdoor basketballs.
Coaches and players who only play or practice in a gym will love the following models. Anyone who spends their time on the blacktop or their driveway should get something a bit tougher. Those who only play inside sometimes can use these as well.
Top Picks of Best Indoor Basketballs
This section goes over the top indoor basketballs by looking at their niches as well as the traits that make them special.
1. Molten X
- Best for: Overall
- Key Features: Composite leather construction. Soft feel with reliable grip. Composite channels allow for better control. Official look.
- Material: EVO Microfiber
- Color: Brown with Black Partitions
- Brand: Wilson
Wilson is one of the leaders in the basketball-making game, and the Molten X shows why. This slick-looking option has a great grip, soft exterior, and composite leather construction that gives it a unique, comfortable design. It works extremely well inside and provides excellent control.
Another bonus of this model is the additional panels, which allow you to better see how shots rotate in the air. That’s especially important for shooters who want to practice their form. The extra groove lines, while not standard, are also nice when it comes to creating a reliable feel.
If you want an indoor option, this ball is the complete package. The only true downside to the model is that it lacks a bit of bounce if it’s not fully inflated. You’re going to need to keep a pump handy when playing with this for extended periods of time.
- Best for: Leather
- Key Features: Soft, comfortable construction. Professional appearance. Natural grip with wide channels. Ships inflated.
- Material: Leather
- Color: Orange
- Brand: Spalding
The only basketball on this list made of true leather, this game ball from Spalding is one of the most official and best-feeling indoor options on the market. The grip is excellent, and the wide channels provide a level of control that similar balls simply cannot match. It’s comfortable too.
This ball comes with a professional bounce, responds well, and retains air no matter how much you plan to use it. There’s a nice level of durability here, and it goes a long way for players who spend a lot of time playing. This ball is specifically tailored for more serious ballers.
Of course, leather does come with some downsides. The biggest is that you won’t get the same toughness or cushion feel you get when using composite leather. This ball also takes a while to break in, but that’s ultimately worth it for what is a well-rounded, responsive model.
- Best for: Versatility
- Key Features: Indoor and outdoor versatility. Strong composite construction. Soft, professional feel. Comfortable grooves. Ships inflated.
- Material: Composite
- Color: Brown
- Brand: Spalding
This model is not a true indoor-only option. Rather, it’s a well-made ball from a premium brand that has the construction to be used both inside and outdoors. The Tack-Soft, as the name suggests, is a softer composite ball that’s still able to handle the elements with ease.
As it’s versatile, this model is perfect for people who play in a gym and outside. If you prefer to practice at home or on the blacktop, this is a great choice. Unlike other indoor balls, it also comes at an affordable price point. Perfect if you want to save some money or are on a budget.
Though this ball is made to stand up to the elements, its shape will warp over time. This isn’t something you’ll need to worry about in the first few months, but you should be aware of it once you get a lot of use out of this model.
- Best for: Grip
- Key Features: Extremely durable. Strong grip without the tacky feel. Bright coloration.
- Material: Composite
- Color: Orange
- Brand: Baden
Those looking for a lesser-known model that comes with excellent grip will enjoy the Baden Elite. This ball is great indoors thanks to its composite construction. It also comes with a strong, long-lasting grip that provides strong control without the sticky feel you’ll see in other models.
Another bonus of this model is its durability. Where many indoor models cut strength for a soft indoor feel, the Elite provides you with a good grip and soft exterior without sacrificing any inherent power. This is a tough ball that you can shoot or dribble to your heart’s content.
The biggest issue with this model is that it doesn’t have the best air retention. You’re going to get a lot of use out of it, but be prepared to refill it more than you would other models. As long as you keep it pumped up, however, you’ll be rewarded with a solide, well-rounded item.
- Best for: Comfort
- Key Features: Evo microfiber construction allows for premium grip. Durable. Extreme control. Solid air retention. Numerous color options.
- Material: Evo Microfiber
- Color: Orange, Brown, Royal, Green, Black, Scarlet.
- Brand: Spalding
Another excellent Spalding option, the Evolution is an extremely popular indoor basketball due to its strong durability, solid grip, and unmatched feel. While many indoor balls are soft, this model delivers a cushion core with a strong grip that’s extremely soft on your hands.
It also manages to offer that comfort while still delivering deep composite channels for better control. It’s a tough ball and the bounce feels natural, going soft on layups and hard on longer shots. There are many different color options as well, allowing you to mix-and-match your style.
As great as this ball is, you are going to want to keep it at near full inflation in order to get the excellent bounce. The air retention is solid, but once this dips down you’re going to see a drop in quality. Make sure to keep it inflated as soon as you start to feel some give.
Best Indoor Basketballs: What to Look For
These traits are all extremely important to keep in mind during your search for a good indoor basketball.
Material is incredibly important because it helps determine if a ball should be used indoors or outside. Most big brands today use either rubber, composite leather, or genuine leather when creating their balls. They each come with pros and cons.
Leather options are softer and tend to have better grip than rubber balls. That is why you’ll almost never see rubber indoor balls. Genuine leather is the ideal material when playing inside a gym, and you should always get a model that uses that over the other two options.
Though it’s easy to look past when checking out other traits, you want a ball with plenty of bounce. That means a model that shoots cleanly off the rim or doesn’t take too much energy to dribble. The crisper your ball’s bounce, the more fun it will be to play with.
This is a balancing act. While a good, crisp bounce is important, you don’t want something that’s too hard or rockets away every time you hit the rim. Your goal is to get something you can comfortably handle that also won’t fly too far back on a missed jump shot or three pointer.
As they aren’t made as tough as outdoor options, most people overlook durability when getting an indoor basketball. However, though you want something that’s soft and comes with a nice grip, you still need a strong, well-made item that won’t lose its grip or air retention too quickly.
Go with balls made by the top brands. That ensures a certain production quality and ensures that you won’t have to replace it every few months. Indoor balls tend to be expensive. Paying more for a premium option with good materials upfront will save you money down the line.
Even if you know what ball you want, you may still have some questions about indoor options. This section answers a few common ones.
What’s the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Basketballs?
Outdoor basketballs tend to be a bit harder and less comfortable to handle than indoor balls, with the tradeoff that they come with sturdier builds that enable them to withstand uneven surfaces or turbulent weather.
Is it Bad to Use Indoor Basketball Outside?
For the most part, yes. Indoor basketballs, though they can be used outside, do not have the durability or construction to withstand repeated bouncing on concrete, pavement, or asphalt.
How Do You Clean Indoor Basketball?
If you need to clean your ball, simply fill a bucket with warm water and a little bit of dish soap or anti-grease detergent. Dip a rag in the water, ring it out, then rub it over the ball until the dirt or grime goes away. Once the ball is no longer dirty, dry it off with a clean towel.
Useful Tips and Resources
When getting a basketball note that there are various sizes to accommodate youth and women’s leagues. The largest, 29.5”, is used for men’s leagues ages 13+, women use 28.5”, and young players (ages 10 and under) use balls that measure 27.5”.
No matter what size you get, be sure to inflate your ball to the proper level. Each one comes with its own pressure range that you need to check before pumping. If you have any questions about how to hit that mark, this video is a good place to start.
The Molten X is my pick for the best indoor basketball. While all of the above models bring something unique to the table, this one has the best blend of comfort, control, and general durability. It looks great, feels awesome, and can even help you get a better shot.
Where most indoor balls lose something to get their premium feel, the Molten X sacrifices nothing and still delivers a premium package. No matter how often you get inside the gym, this will give you a professional experience every single time you suit up.