What Makes a Great Outdoor Basketball?

When engaged in a heated battle on the court you have several things to worry about. Should I take this shot? Is my teammate open? Can I thread the needle on this pass? Often, these decisions have to be made in a split second. One thing that no basketball player wants to worry about is the consistency and quality of the basketball. You should NEVER have to be thinking about whether a ball will bounce consistently, or if it will be difficult to handle. Having a great basketball can help you focus on what matters…the game!

We recognize how important it is to have the best outdoor basketball for players who expect a top quality product.  Because of this, we have listed below the top 10 outdoor basketballs.  While we all have different preferences, we feel you will find any of the basketballs on our list are worth of being crowned best outdoor basketball.

Top 5 Outdoor Basketballs (In order from #1 to #5)

1. Spalding Replica Game Basketball

  • spalding replica game ballComposite Leather Cover
  • Features NBA logo and graphics making it appear like an official game ball
  • The most consistent performing indoor/outdoor basketball we tested
  • Has superior feel compared to other indoor/outdoor basketballs

Price: $$

4.85 Stars (4.85 / 5)
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2. Molten GM7 FIBA Official Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

  • 61F0r7neWzLOfficial 29.5 size 7 mens basketball
  • Durable indoor/outdoor composite cover
  • FIBA approved official 12 panel 2 tone design
    manufacturers 2 year warranty

Price: $$$$

4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)

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3. Baden Contender Official Wide Channel Basketball

  • BadenContenderIndoor/Outdoor Basketball
  • Total Feel Technology
  • Performance composite cover
  • Stealth Soft-Valve System
  • Perfection symmetrical design

Price: $$

4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

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4. Under Armour 595 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

  • 91ZxbYJMrlL._SL1500_UA GRIPSKIN Composite for Ultimate Grip and Feel
  • Traditional Channel Design/Full Ball Pebbling
  • 100-Percent Nylon Windings for Excellent Shape Retention
  • 100-Percent Butyl Bladder for Maximum Air Retention

Price: $$$

4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

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5. Under Armour 495 Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

  • 915wLQt84eL._SL1500_UA GRIPSKIN Composite for Ultimate Grip and Feel
  • Deep Channel Design/Full Ball Pebbling
  • 80-Percent Nylon Windings for Shape Retention
  • 100-Percent Butyl Bladder for Maximum Air Retention

Price: $$

4.3 Stars (4.3 / 5)

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Best Outdoor Basketball Systems

Now that you have the perfect outdoor basketball it is now time to turn your attention to finding the best outdoor basketball hoop to match.  There are literally hundreds of basketball hoops to choose from for your home and the characteristics of each can vary greatly across price, features, materials, and size.  It is important for any basketball enthusiast who wants to bring the game to their home to seriously consider each of these variables when choosing a basketball system.  Below we have selected what we consider to be the best five basketball hoops for your home.  You can see our extensive list of reviewed hoops, and our picks for the best portable and in ground basketball units.

Interactive Hoop Buying Guide Questionnaire

Use our interactive hoop buying guide and you will get a list of hoops that best meet your needs:

If you are unsure about some of the questions asked  in questionnaire please visit our hoop buying guide to learn more about the different features on portable and inground basketball hoops.

Top 5 Outdoor Basketball Hoops

1. Goalsetter All American In-Ground Basketball System

In-Ground Basketball Hoop

  • 60in x 38in x 3/8in Competition Tempered Glass Backboard (Acrylic available) / Goalsetter All-American weight: 435 Lbs.
  • Comes standard with the Goalsetter Heavy Duty Flex Breakaway Rim
  • 5in Square One-Piece Support Pole
  • Internal Height Adjustment System that Allows for Limitless Adjustment from 6 – 10 Feet
  • Ground Anchor Hinge System allows for Complete Assembly of Basketball Goal Prior to raising it upright

Price: $$$$$

4.8 Stars (4.8 / 5)

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2. Spalding “The Beast” Portable Basketball Hoop

  • image-toolsResidential portable basketball system adjusts from 7.5-Feet to 10-Feet
  • 60-Inch glass backboard, Pro Image breakaway basketball rim, all-weather white net
  • 50+ Gallon capacity dual capacity base fills with water or sand for stability

Price: $$$$$

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

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3. Silverback SB-54iG In-Ground Basketball System

  • 31-v4kBDxDL (1)Backboard size is 54 x 33-Inch with 5-Millimeter tempered glass and 3/4 x 1 3/16-Inch internal frame
  • Pole 4 x 4-Inch, two piece in ground DuPont powder coated features benefits swedged two piece pole simulates characteristics
  • 2-Feet overhang, all-steel actuator DuPont powder coated ultimate protection against the elements

Price: $$$$

4.4 Stars (4.4 / 5)

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4. Spalding Portable Basketball System- 60″ Acrylic Backboard

  • spalding portable 60 579.0040-gallon base fills with sand or water for added stability and to minimize tipping
  • Screw Jack lift system adjusts from 7.5 to 10 feet in infinite increments
  • Portable basketball system with 60-inch acrylic backboard
  • Arena Slam breakaway rim

Price: $$$$

4.2 Stars (4.2 / 5)

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5. Lifetime 52-Inch Portable Basketball System

  • lifetime 52 inch shatter proofFront height adjustment with just a squeeze of the handles
  • Orange slam-it rim with two compression springs
  • Steel backboard frame with frame pad
  • 52 inch polycarbonate backboard

Price: $$$

4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

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All Basketballs are NOT Created Equal

We’ve all been there.  Having to play a pickup game with a ball that just does not make the grade.  It is either too slick or too rubbery, or inconsistent in its bounce.  A great basketball has the correct grip balance while maintaining a smooth feel.  Do you really think that Billy Hyle or Sidney Dean would play with a sub-par ball?  Of course not!  Great ballers want to have the best outdoor basketball because this gives them the best opportunity to play their A-game.  This is the same for almost every sport.  The best performers for a given sport are always playing with the best equipment, because it makes a difference.

The best outside basketballs are almost all made from a composite or synthetic leather material.  While genuine leather gives the ultimate feel for a basketball it is not appropriate for outdoor use due to leather’s lack of durability.  But there is good news!  Today’s composite leather is of great quality and does an amazing job simulating the feel of genuine leather.  So good in fact, you may have a difficult time telling a genuine leather basketball from a high quality composite leather basketball.

Things to Consider When Buying a Basketball

1. Cover Material

The NBA Official Game Basketball is Made of Genuine Leather

The NBA Official Game Basketball is Made of Genuine Leather

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather basketballs were at one point in time much more common than they are today.  In fact, only Spalding continues to mass produce a genuine leather basketballs, which is the Official NBA Game Basketball.  Genuine leather comes out of the box needing to be broken in through regular play.  At first the basketball may feel slick and harder to control than a composite leather basketball.  However, if you are patient and are willing to work the genuine leather basketball in over time, then there is no other cover material that can compare.  Once at peak performance, the genuine leather basketball will feel nicely cushioned and will last for years and years.

The Rock is a Premium Indoor Composite Leather Basketball

The Rock is a Premium Indoor Composite Leather BasketballComposite Leather

Composite Leather

The majority of basketballs available for sale today are made of a composite leather material.  Composite leather is a synthetic leather-like material that is cheaper and more versatile than genuine leather.  Basketballs that are made of composite leather do not have to be broken in and come out of the box ready to perform at their peak.  Higher end composite leather basketballs (like the Wilson Evolution) are indoor only basketballs and are often used in high school and collegiate games.  More moderately priced indoor outdoor basketballs are also made of composite leather but are created to be able to take the wear and tear that occurs on the courts.

Rubber Basketballs are the Most Affordable

Rubber Basketballs are the Most AffordableRubber


Rubber is the cheapest material that is still used to make basketballs today.  Rubber is very durable on hard surfaces making it a good option for outdoor use.  The weakness of leather basketballs is that they often feel hard and generally have a poor grip.  Because of this we recommend rubber basketballs for children who just learning the game or for homes with a hoop over a gravel driveway.

Whether a player desires a basketball with an ultra soft cover, a sticky grip, or one that works to mimic the unique feel of a genuine leather basketball is based on personal preference.


2. Size


29.5″ Regulation Size

For adults and boys who are in their teenage years, a standard 29.5″ basketball will be the best choice.  This is the regulation sized basketball that is used for men’s basketball games from high school all the way to the NBA.  Due to the increased size of the regulation basketball it also ways slightly more than the other sized basketballs.

28.5″ Women’s

If you are looking to buy a basketball for a lady baller or a youngster, then take a look at the 28.5″ sized basketballs.  With only one inch difference in circumference the difference between this basketball and the regulation size will be hard to differentiate by many.  Tip: If you have a high school aged daughter having her practice with the regulation size basketball at home will make the 28.5″ used during the games feel like shooting fish in a bucket!

27.5″ Youth

 This sized basketball is meant to be used by children who are growing up and learning the fundamentals of basketball.  Great for elementary aged boys and girls the youth basketball can work well in both full sized rims and some smaller mini hoop rims.  Having a smaller basketball will help children develop proper shooting and dribbling mechanics.


3. Price

The price of each basketball is likely to vary due to several factors that we have listed throughout this guide.  The most important factor on basketball price is the cover material.  Genuine leather basketballs are the most expensive (~$140).  Composite leather basketball prices can vary depending on whether it is an indoor only basketball (+$50) or an indoor/outdoor basketball ($20-$50).  Rubber basketballs are the cheapest and can be found pretty easily for somewhere between $10 and $15.


4. Performance

When looking at which basketball to buy overall performance is an important consideration.  Here at BestOutdoorBasketball we review basketballs on a scale of 1 to 5 in several categories including:


When dribbling the basketball does the ball perform consistently, or does it have off center bounces making it hard to control?


This seems to be a popular feature for those wanting to be able to palm a basketball.  Grip is essentially a measure of how easily a basketball is to clutch or hold.


Similar to grip, but different.  When using the basketball does it feel connected to your hands making dribbling and control effortless?  A basketball with good feel has a good balance between cushion and stability.


How long is the basketball likely to last under normal playing conditions.  We do not measure indoor basketballs and indoor/outdoor basketballs the same in this regard as their playing purposes are different.


When including features and material quality does the basketball give a good bang for your buck.

Now that you know how we rate each basketball we review be sure to see our basketball reviews to find out how each basketball stacks up against the competition.


How to Find the Best Outdoor Basketball for You

There are literally hundreds of basketballs to choose from.  With so much selection a decision can be difficult.  You have to think about what matters to you including cost, brand, size, color, feel, and grip.  Do not forget to consider how you plan to use the basketball and your own basketball related goals.

With our interactive chart you will find valuable information regarding each basketball we have listed.  Make sure to look at each ball and its characteristics to make a decision that meets your balling needs.  Instead of having someone else tell you what ball to buy, check out the list we have compiled and use the data to decide which is the best outdoor basketball for you!