This is my review of the best youth basketballs for kids.

It’s great for kids to start playing basketball at an early age. This is when young players start learning fundamentals such as dribbling, passing, and shooting.

It is often recommended that young players start with a youth size basketball. Most youth leagues will use these smaller sized basketballs. It helps to give the young players confidence as they start learning the basic skills needed as a basketball player.

There are many types of youth size basketballs on the market that are made to look and feel just like the official size balls. Let’s take a quick look at some of them.

Quick Summary

  • If you are looking for a real “game ball”, you need to check out the Wilson Evolution Game Basketball. This one is my favorite. It’s just like the regulation-size basketballs. If you bring this one to the court, everyone will want to use it for the game.
  • If you want a versatile indoor/outdoor ball, take a look at the Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor Composite 27.5 Youth Basketball. This one is practical, durable and has fun colors, something that kids will really like.
  • If you are an eco-friendly person who is concerned with the environment, the Eco Sports Energy ball is an indoor ball that performs great and is environmentally friendly as well. It’ is made from biodegradable materials from a vegan company so you can be assured your concerns are kept in mind.
  • The Mikasa BX1000 Premium Rubber Basketball is a great outdoor starter basketball. It is very durable, easy to grip and a good all-around basic basketball.

Who Should Get This?

If you have a young son or daughter learning to play basketball or you are coaching a youth league team, you should strongly consider using a youth size basketball.

One of the keys to keeping young players interested and involved in the game is for them to see improvement in their own skills.

One way that we can help them to progress in their basketball abilities, is to start them out with a youth size basketball. Young players have not yet matured and most likely still have small hands.

Trying to learn ball-handling skills at a young age with an official size basketball can sometimes be daunting and may turn them off from the game.

Not only are youth size basketballs smaller but they are also lighter in weight. This makes it easier for kids to pass, shoot, and rebound.

It’s a lot more fun when they can get the basketball into the hoop. It’s also much less scary for them to have a smaller, lighter-weight ball coming towards them from a pass or rebound.

If you don’t have children or coach a youth team, maybe you just want to mess around with a smaller size basketball for fun.

It makes it easier to palm the ball and dunk the ball if you have smaller hands. Sometimes it can be fun to see what you can do with a smaller size basketball.

Best Youth Basketball for Kids: Top Picks

1. Wilson Evolution Game Basketball

This really is a great basketball and as I said above, it is one of my favorites. You can’t go wrong with this one no matter what you are going to use it for. Just don’t use it outside because it is an indoor-only ball.

What we like:

  • Comes in 27.5” and 28.5” sizes ( as well as regulation 29.5” )
  • Made from Evo Microfiber Composite which gives it a great grip as well as durability.
  • Composite channels provide a really good grip and control.
  • Has a soft cushion feel.
  • Made of for indoor play only.

What we don’t like:

  • It’s so nice everyone will want to use it.

2. Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor Composite 27.5 Youth Basketball

This is a very nice indoor/outdoor 27.5” ball. Your kids will love this one and it is very versatile.

What we like:

  • It is 25% lighter than other youth basketballs.
  • Indoor/Outdoor, so no need to worry, it can be used anywhere.
  • It has nice flashy colors that young kids will like.
  • It’s also available in a standard basketball color if you prefer.

What we don’t like:

  • It only comes in 1 size, 27.5”.

3. Eco Sports Energy

Eco sports energy youth basketball
Image Credit: Melissa Medina

Don’t let the eco-friendly label fool you. This ball performs as well as other top performers in its class. Just take a look at what it has to offer. Note: This ball is for indoor use only.

What we like:

  • Available in 27.5 and 28.5 kids sizes (also available in official 29.5 sizes).
  • Made from eco-friendly material by a vegan company.
  • Has a great feel with groove channels to fit young kids’ hands.
  • The ball is not overly bouncy which is great for kids learning to dribble so the ball does not get away from them.
  • Lightweight and easy for young players to pass, shoot and rebound.
  • Water-resistant.
  • Overall great quality.

What we don’t like:

  • On initial use, the grip is a little slippery but gets much better after some light usage.
  • It’s an indoor-only ball, so using it outdoors will scuff up and ruin the material.
  • It will decompose after about 3 years.

4. Mikasa BX1000 Premium Rubber Basketball

This is a great rugged durable ball that is typically made for a playground. It’s a great starter basketball and works well for almost any type of play.

What we like:

  • It’s available in all sizes including the hard to find size 4 25.5” size.
  • Extremely durable and rugged.
  • Good grip.
  • Made specifically for outdoor use, but can be used indoors also.

What we don’t like:

  • Made from rubber so it doesn’t have the feel of other composite basketballs.

Best Youth Basketball for Kids: What to Consider

Size

Youth basketballs come in 3 sizes. Some models are available in all three sizes but many are not. The sizes are measured in inches by the diameter of the ball and each one is also given a number.

The following are the 3 youth basketball sizes :

  • Size 6 – 28.5” Boys 12 – 14 years old, Women and girls 12 years old and up
  • Size 5 – 27.5” Boys and girls 9 – 11 years old
  • Size 4 – 25.5” Boys and girls 5 – 8 years old

Weight

The weight of the ball can be important for young players. A lighter basketball allows them to get the ball up to the basket. The weight of the basketball will be determined by the size and the type of material it is made of.

Indoor/Outdoor

You will need to make sure you get the correct ball for where you will be playing. Indoor, outdoor or indoor/outdoor.

It is very important that you never use an indoor ball outdoors.

If you do, it will destroy the outer material on the ball because it is not made for rough concrete or asphalt surfaces.

Any ball that can be used outdoor can generally be used indoor so they are normally considered indoor/outdoor basketballs, but some may be labeled just “outdoor”.

This usually just means they are made from a material that is best suited for outdoor use, but using it indoor will not damage it.

Grip

The grip of the basketball can be different depending on the type of material it is made of. You want to find a basketball that has a good grip and sticks to your hands very well.

Durability

Of course, you will want to find a basketball that is made of durable material and will last for a long time.

Useful Tips and Resources

An important part of the performance of your basketball is inflation, or how much air you put in it. The more air you pump in the more active or the bouncier it will be.

The inflation level of your basketball is usually a personal preference.

For a game, the referee may select a ball that is not overly inflated but also not under-inflated.

For tips on how to inflate your basketball to the proper level, check out this video.

After your basketball gets a lot of use, it may start to look a little worn, and it may also start to lose some of its grip.

This video on How to clean a basketball can help you restore some of the life back into your favorite basketball once it starts to age.

Final Words

For young basketball players, it is important to keep them interested in the game and not have them get discouraged because they are having trouble with ball-handling skills or shooting the basketball.

Since it is smaller and lighter, a youth size basketball gives them a chance to learn fundamental skills while also gaining some confidence in their game.