Best Outdoor Basketball Rating: Spalding TF-500 Basketball Review
Shares lineage with the legendary Spalding TF-1000 indoor basketball
Cover has the perfect balance between durability and feel for an indoor/outdoor basketball
Value is decent with a price point around $30, which is common for high quality outdoor basketballs
Channel design is traditional, without being too wide or deep
Being that I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, you can imagine that I’ve played with almost every basketball that the major basketball manufacturers have produced. When I was in sixth grade I was introduced to what may be my favorite indoor basketball of all time; the (old) Spalding TF-1000.
Spalding still sells the TF-1000, but it is much different and in my opinion far inferior to the old TF-1000. Still, as a basketball enthusiast I take notice when I see a basketball with the letters TF on the cover. Needless to say that I have been excited to try the indoor/outdoor version of the TF, the Spalding TF-500.
When I bought the Spalding TF-500 I hoped that it shared more in common from a performance standpoint to the old TF-1000 than the new one. Thankfully, this seems to be the case in most areas that are commonly used to measure the quality of a basketball.
Right out of the box I noticed that the cover was the perfect blend of durability and feel. Having a basketball you are going to use outdoors means you need something that is soft enough to feel playable, while at the same time be durable enough to last. I can say with confidence that there is no other outdoor basketball that has perfected this balance like the Spalding TF-500.
Another strength of the Spalding TF-500 is the bladder that is beneath the cover and gives the basketball its shape. This basketball has one of the best bladders for any outdoor basketball we’ve reviewed to date. I have not once gotten an off center or wacky bounce from this basketball when used on a proper surface. Air retention has also not been a problem thus far.
Compared to other outdoor basketballs we’ve reviewed, the Spalding TF-500 stacks up with the best of them. In particular, if you compared this basketball to the Spalding Replica Game Basketball (which is our number 1 rated outdoor basketball) you would be pleasantly surprised.
Comparison to the Spalding Replica Game Ball
There is no doubt that the cover on the Spalding Replica is softer and has better feel, but the Spalding TF-500 has a more durable cover and a better balance between durability and feel. Bottom line is that if you want an outdoor basketball with more durability and than the Replica Game Ball, then look no further than the TF-500.
The channel design of the Spalding TF-500 is fairly traditional, in that they are not extremely wide or deep. This is the same for basically all Spalding basketballs. If you prefer super wide and deep channels I’d recommend a Wilson basketball. However, if you are more of a traditionalist like myself then the Spalding TF-500 is the way to go.
- Cover of the Spalding TF-500 is the perfect balance of durability and feel for an outdoor basketball
- Bladder on the TF-500 is one of the best found on any outdoor basketball
- Dribbling this ball revealed very consistent performance
- Price point is similar to other high quality outdoor basketballs
- While we love the cover, it is not as soft as our outdoor basketball: the Spalding Replica Game Ball
In summary, the Spalding TF-500 is probably the most well-rounded outdoor basketball in terms of performance that money can buy. While we still rate the Spalding Replica Game Ball slightly higher, we would not fault anyone who chose the Spalding TF-500 due to the increased durability.