Equipment: Choosing the Right Basketball - A Primer

Equipment: Choosing the Right Basketball - A Primer

David Andrews

One of the great advantages basketball has over many sports is that it doesn't require much equipment, and that equipment is relatively inexpensive.

There are many different types of basketballs, including balls in various sizes and made of different materials. The age and sex of the player will determine which size of ball is appropriate.

Here's a quick primer on basketball sizes and materials that will help you when making a purchase for your physical education classes.

Basketball Sizes

  1. A full size (7) ball is recommended for men and boys over 12 year of age. The official version is 29.5 inches in circumference and weighs 20-22 oz.
  2. The intermediate (6) ball is designed for women and girls of all ages and boys aged 8-12 years. The ball measures 28.5 inches in circumference and weighs 18 to 20 oz.
  3. A youth (5) ball is designed for boys and girls ages 4 - 8. The circumference is 27 inches and weighs 18 to 20 oz.
  4. A mini basketball is a great recreational ball. It promotes good hand / eye coordination. The circumference is 22 inches and weighs 8 to 12 oz.

Having determined the correct size of ball, the surface on which the game is to be played is another critical factor in your purchasing decision.

Full Grain Leather
Leather balls are more expensive than synthetic or rubber covered balls and are the "top of the range" ball. However, they should only be used for indoor play, as rough outdoor surfaces will damage the surface of the ball.

Synthetic Leather
A synthetic leather or composite cover has the feel of leather, but with greater durability. These basketballs can be used in either indoor or outdoor environments. Such basketballs tend to be cheaper than indoor, leather balls because of the less expensive materials used in their construction. It is generally easier to find this type of ball in smaller sizes than indoor, leather balls. Another advantage of these balls is that they tend to be easier to grip because their surface is more "tacky."

Rubber-covered balls are both inexpensive and durable. The bounce of a rubber ball is different than that of a leather ball, but they're favoured for play on outdoor courts, due to their durability. More abrasive, outdoor surfaces like asphalt quickly damage softer leather balls. Outdoor basketballs tend to be the least expensive because of the materials involved in their construction, but they are strictly for outdoor play. Rubber-covered balls also absorb less moisture than their leather counterparts.

Where to Purchase
Basketballs can easily be found online and in sporting goods stores. For more information, visit

Contributor: David Andrews, Crowdstorm,

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