DunkOrThree > Learn & Improve > How to Deflate a Basketball?

How to Deflate a Basketball?

Publish Date: 12.02.2020
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

In previous articles, we have discussed how to inflate a basketball and why it is important to have it inflated to the proper level. Since we have learned the proper way to inflate a ball, you may be curious as to how you might deflate it if the need ever arises.

Inflating a basketball is pretty common and is something that you might need to do quite often. But, what about deflating it? Are there any situations in which I will need to deflate my ball?

Why Would I Need to Deflate a Basketball?

The need to deflate a basketball is much less common but there are some situations that may arise in which you will need to do this.


The most common reason that you would need to deflate a basketball is that it is overinflated. A ball with too much air in it will make playing basketball more difficult because it will bounce higher than expected making it difficult to control.

This may make dribbling the ball seem a bit easier, but it will also make your bounce passes go farther than expected and your shots will bounce too hard off the backboard and rim causing you to miss shots that you ordinarily would not miss. Although dribbling may seem easier at first, you are likely to lose control of the ball because of the high bounce.

You might wonder, how did my basketball become overinflated? The likely answer is that it was overinflated when you or someone else pumped it up.

Air temperature and altitude can also affect the air pressure in your basketball. If you originally pumped it up to the correct pressure outside on a cold day and then a few days later, it is very warm outside, the pressure inside the ball will increase and it may become overinflated.

This can happen with altitude also. If I inflate the ball in Indianapolis, Indiana where the altitude is about 715 feet and then bring the ball to Denver, Colorado (altitude of 5280 feet), the air pressure inside my ball will increase and the ball may become overinflated. If I then take the ball up to Vail Pass (altitude of 10,666 feet) it will most definitely be overinflated.

Storage or Transport

You might want to deflate a basketball to store or transport it. By deflating it, we can reduce the size and it will take up less space in a drawer, suitcase or whatever you might be putting it in.

A word of caution, deflating a nice leather or synthetic ball can possibly damage it. Deflating it completely can sometimes cause the leather or synthetic panels to separate and ruin the ball. It is not something that will definitely happen but something to look out for. Just make sure you deflate it slowly and keep an eye on the ball. There is no need to worry about this for all rubber balls.

How to Deflate a Basketball: What You Will Need

Inflation Needle

These are relatively cheap and can be found at almost any store that carries any type of athletic equipment. They can also be found easily on Amazon.

See the picture below if you are not familiar with what they look like.

Inflation Needle. Photo by Melissa Medina.

Warning: I have seen articles on the internet saying that you can use paper clips or other objects to insert in the air valve. I do not know if these other items will work, but there is a good chance that these can permanently damage your basketball, so I highly recommend using an inflation needle to do this. They are easy to find and very cheap.

Air Pressure Gauge (optional)

You may want to get an air pressure gauge to check the pressure in your ball. Air pressure gauges can be found online or in stores, but as we mentioned above they are optional and not necessary to deflate your basketball.

How to Deflate a Basketball without an Air Pressure Gauge

Use this method if you do not have a pressure gauge or if you are deflating the ball for transport or storage.

Step 1: Check the pressure in your ball

If your ball feels a little lively and you think it needs to be deflated a little check the air in your ball by dropping it from about chest level and see if bounces back up to about your waist. If it bounces higher, it is probably overinflated.

If you are just deflating it for transport or storage, you can skip this step.

Step 2: Moisten the inflation needle

Use water or even saliva to moisten the needle. This is important because the lubrication makes it easier to insert the needle and prevents damage to the air valve.

Step 3: Insert the needle into the air valve

Using the needle by itself (no air pump), insert it into the air valve of the ball (see picture below). Push the needle down until it is all the way in the ball as shown in the picture.

Inserting the needle into the valve.

Step 4: Let the air escape

At this point, you should hear the air coming out of the ball. If you are trying to deflate it for storage or transportation, you may have to squeeze the ball once it is partially deflated. This will help get more of the air out.

If you are only trying to reduce the air pressure, then you do not want to leave the needle in long. Depending on how much air you need to remove, it may only need a second or two.

Step 5: Remove the needle

Once you feel you have let out a sufficient amount of air, remove the needle by pulling it straight out of the air valve.

Step 6: Check the air pressure again

If you are deflating for storage or transport you can skip this step. If you are adjusting the inflation level, check the air pressure. If it is still too high, repeat this process again starting at step 2.

If you let out too much air and it is now underinflated, you may need to add more air using a pump.

Continue this process until you get a good bounce.

How to Deflate a Basketball with an Air Pressure Gauge

Step 1: Moisten the inflation needle on the pressure gauge

Use water or even saliva to moisten the needle. This is important because the lubrication makes it easier to insert the needle and prevents damage to the air valve.

Step 2: Insert the needle of the pressure gauge into the air valve

While the needle is attached to the air pressure gauge, insert the needle into the basketball.

Insert the pressure gauge into the valve.

Step 3: Release air

Press the release valve on the air pressure gauge to begin releasing air. Monitor the pressure as the air escapes and let go of the release valve once you have reached the desired pressure.

Don’t Fear Having to Deflate a Basketball

Deflating a basketball is fairly simple and not something that you will need to do that often. Hopefully, the steps we have listed above will help you if you are ever in a situation where you need to reduce the air pressure in your basketball.

Have you ever had to play with an overinflated ball? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments.

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