Many consider basketball to be an inside sport. However, not everyone enjoys the game on hardwood. In fact, many players shoot around on streets, driveways, and outdoor courts. If you fall into one of those categories, it always helps to have the proper equipment.

There are many outdoor basketballs on the market, but most of them either don’t last or quickly break down in the face of harsh conditions. The ones detailed in this article get around such shortcomings.

Quick Summary

  • The Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel is a fantastic basketball for players who want a ball that both looks and feels great. This model can also be used indoors and outdoors, giving it great versatility for all different surfaces. It also comes with foam backing and deep channels to enhance general usability.
  • Players who enjoy a good grip will love the Spalding NBA Tack Soft. The ball has a great exterior that allows it to stick to your hands with ease. There is a lot of control here, as well as a leather exterior and synthetic cover. It also comes in two sizes.
  • The Wilson NCAA Wave is perfect for players who value durability. This strong ball is made from a composite leather that resists all types of weather. It also handles well, thanks to the unique pebbled surface, and actively repels dirt or grime.

Who Should Get This?

Outdoor basketballs are great for any player who hoops outside. The items are quite different from indoor models in that they have extra durability and tough construction. Where hardwood doesn’t put too much stress on a ball, asphalt and concrete are much rougher.

If you find yourself playing on such surfaces an outdoor basketball is a perfect fit. That includes players who shoot around in their driveway, get together at the park, or play pickup on their street. Even outdoor courts can ruin an indoor ball.

Best Outdoor Basketballs: What to Consider?


The first aspect to consider when choosing a solid outdoor basketball is its grip. This works on two levels, how well the grip lasts and how quickly it breaks down.

Most of the time, grip is the first thing to go on an outdoor basketball. The constant rubbing on hard surfaces grinds down the outside and makes it quite smooth. Stronger construction helps prevent such issues.

In addition, you want a grip that you can feel and utilize while you play. Material and pattern both change how easy a ball is to use. Pebbling and channel designs are great, as are any special characteristics that give you a better feel.


A good outdoor basketball must be durable. It is easy to assume that your ball will last simply because it says “outdoor” on it, but that is almost never the case. You have to make sure you’re getting something that will stick around for years.

Always choose a ball whose durability best matches your needs. For instance, if you play on hard surfaces get one with a sturdy exterior. In contrast, if most of your games are in the rain, you need a ball that comes with wetness protection.


Always consider material when purchasing your outdoor ball. Traditional leather does not stand up to the elements, which is why most premium brands are made of either synthetic rubber (known as composite) or standard rubber.

Rubber is the most widely used material for outdoor basketballs because of how well it holds up over time. This is the way to go for players who put extra value on durability.

Some prefer composite because it feels much more like an indoor ball and has a softer touch.

Best Outdoor Basketballs: Our Picks

1. Spalding NBA Zi/O Excel

Spalding is perhaps the most trusted basketball maker on Earth. So trusted, that the brand is used by the NBA for all of their balls. That quality is why the NBA Zi/O Excel tops our list.
This ball can be used both indoors and outdoors. That versatility is what makes the Excel such a great option for all player types. The composite material lasts on hardwood and concrete, while the deep channels give excellent handling.

What We Like:

  • Deep channels offer great control
  • Composite material holds up to a lot of use
  • Foam backing

What We Don’t Like:

  • Outer covers could be more durable
  • Glue can weaken when used in wet environments

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

2. Spalding NBA Tack Soft Basketball

The Spalding NBA Tack Soft may not sound like a sturdy outdoor option, the dark orange ball is great in all weather. It also comes in both a 28.-inch and 29.5-inch size, which is great for people with smaller hands.

Though it doesn’t hold air as well as similar brands, the Tack Soft has a strong exterior thanks to the quality leather material and synthetic cover crafted from polyurethane composite. That not only protects the ball, but it creates a fantastic grip for improved dribbling and shooting.

What We Like:

  • Two different ball sizes allow for more options
  • Synthetic cover protects the ball in a range of situations
  • Leather exterior is extremely hardy
  • Grip material allows for better control during play

What We Don’t Like:

  • Tends to let air out more frequently than other options

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3. Wilson NCAA Wave Microfiber Composite

The Wilson Wave is a composite ball perfect for players who want something sturdy. This model puts all of its focus on durability, ensuring it’s a purchase that will last you for years.

The composite leather feels great right away, requiring no break-in time, and it provides superb bounce. Though the ball can feel a bit hard, the pebbled surface creates a grip unlike any other brand.

What We Like:

  • Recessed ridges
  • Pebbled composite leather

What We Don’t Like:

  • Deflates easily, especially with heavy use
  • Can be a bit hard at times

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Useful Tips and Resources

Outdoor basketballs, despite their inherent durability, still need to be kept in the same way you would upkeep an indoor ball. This guide breaks down such steps on how to get the most out of your ball.

When your ball does eventually wear down, you can consult this video on how to instill some much-needed life back into it.

Final Words

Every basketball player hoops differently. Many play inside, but many also choose to spend their time outdoors. Shooting with an indoor ball outside is the equivalent of trying to run in bowling shoes. It just doesn’t make sense.

The above models are built to last, and they will give you high quality games for a long, long time. No matter where you play or how often you go outside, they will all hold up.

Do you have your favorite outdoor ball or brand? If so, let us know what it is and why you like it below!