The market is inundated with basketballs from different manufacturers who claim their ball is the best basketball for kids all across the web. Though the basketball court is a place of equality, all basketballs are not created equal. Use this guide to pick the best basketball for your kid!
How To Pick the Best Basketball for Kids
Choosing the right size. The first and most important consideration when selecting the best basketball for kids is finding an appropriate size. Basketballs are generally grouped into three distinct sizes -- youth, intermediate, and official.
- Youth (27.5”): ages eight and under: these basketballs are good starter basketballs for the small-handed, small-limbed youngsters.
- Intermediate (28.5”): girls ages nine and up and boys ages 9-12.
- Official (29.5”): boys age 13 and up. Though these balls are just an inch larger in circumference, they are pretty tricky to deal with for young children. Kids will generally want to be fully grown by the time they begin playing with these sized balls.
Beyond the three standard sizes, different basketball manufacturers make their balls using various size distinctions. Simply keep the measurement in mind when you’re purchasing your kid’s basketball.
Choosing the right material. Basketballs are generally made from three distinct materials. These materials have an impact on how you play and where you play.
- Leather: these balls are professional standard balls. They are strictly for indoor play and have a longer break-in period. That said, they have the best grip on any material.
- Composite: these balls are a less expensive option than leather that still offers excellent grip. These balls are great for indoor and outdoor play.
- Rubber: these balls, the least expensive of the three materials, are an excellent option for beginner basketball players. They have extra bounce and durability and are great for indoor and outdoor play. Without a doubt, the best first basketball for kids will be rubber.
Choosing the right color. The professional standard is the dark brown of the classic NBA ball. When choosing a ball for kids, however, you can have fun with it. A nicely colored ball might be your child’s entryway into the exciting world of basketball.
Best Basketballs for Children
Here are our picks for the nine best basketballs for kids. Let’s get started!
In any list of best basketballs for kids, you’re likely to see Spalding’s various balls show up quite regularly. This company, which provides NBA with the official game balls, is well-respected across the world of basketball by amateurs and pros alike.
The Spalding All-Conference Basketball is our best overall pick because it seems to do it all. It’s made with an advanced composite cover that makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor play.
This basketball comes in all three sizes, meaning it’s a suitable pick for children of all ages.
Last but not least, this basketball is exceptionally affordable for the quality. Whereas some of the top basketballs can run you well over $50, the Spalding All-Conference Basketball is under $30. This makes it a great first ball when you’re not sure the kid will even play very often, but the quality is such that it’s a ball that would be suitable for a long-time player as well.
Now, though this ball comes in all three sizes, including the NBA official size, it’s not weighted the same. This ball is excellent for kids, but adults and teens will want something with a bit more substance.
- Trustworthy brand
- Customizable sizes
- Composite cover good for indoor and outdoor play
- Excellent price
- Not weighted correctly for adult play
- The composite cover won’t bounce as well for very young kids as a simple rubber ball.
Another Spalding basketball makes our list as the best outdoor basketball. The Spalding NBA Street Basketball has a rubber cover that makes it highly durable for outdoor play. It bounces exceptionally well and has an excellent grip.
The Spalding NBA Street Basketball also comes in all three sizes, meaning both the youngest basketball players and adults can appreciate it.
In addition, the seller we’ve linked will ship this basketball inflated. This is a highly desirable option because having a basketball shipped deflated can sometimes crease the ball and take it a little longer to break in. What’s more, the fact that the seller ships it inflated (and it arrives inflated!) is a good indication of the ball’s air holding power.
Finally, this ball is another excellent, affordable choice.
However, be warned: Spalding is such a popular basketball that many shoddy basketballs in the world are simply printed with a Spalding decal and called a Spalding when their bounce, durability, and weight prove they are not. Be sure your product is shipped from a verified seller like Amazon.
- Great bounce for kids
- Excellent durability
- Holds air well
- Good price
- Customizable size
- The rubber material isn’t ideal for advanced players
If you want a quality basketball for indoor play, you won’t find one better than the Wilson Evolution Game Basketball. Interestingly enough, Wilson will replace Spalding as the official NBA game basketball in the Fall of 2021, a testament to Wilson’s reputation for quality indoor basketballs.
This ball is the most popular basketball in high schools across the country. Its leather cover gives it the weight and feel of a high-quality basketball, and it’s perfect for dribbling, gripping, and shooting. The laid-in composite channels give players a real sense of control as they’re playing and a feel of consistent texture over the whole surface.
The Wilson Evolution Game Basketball is also certified by the National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS) for its high-quality play.
This ball comes in your three standard sizes, but it generally isn’t a child’s first basketball. The leather cover takes longer to break in, and the ball itself requires a little more dexterity and power to handle its weight and control flexibility. This ball is also on the higher-end of kids’ basketballs; expect to make a real investment here.
- Awesome control and grip
- Excellent weighting
- NFHS certified
- The leather cover is harder to handle for younger kids
- Only good for indoor play
- The leather cover is not as durable as, say, a rubber cover
The Mikasa BX1000 is the perfect outdoor basketball for kids and parents that just want a quality ball that will last a long time. The rubber cover of the Mikasa BX1000 means it has the staying power that will last you years if it’s maintained properly.
Furthermore, the rubber of the Mikasa BX1000 is not made like the rubber of other basketballs. It feels somewhat soft like a leather basketball, lending the whole ball a feel of quality that far outstrips its cost.
This basketball comes in all the standard sizes and is even customizable for smaller sizes. The 25.5” ball is perfect for the very young who are just having their first outdoor game of basketball.
Overall, this ball is an excellent item for the price. Many who buy this ball say they would have expected to pay much more for this ball’s all-around performance.
- Highly durable
- Feel of quality that exceeds its cost
- Highly affordable
- Rubber surface has less grip and control than standard leather
This one-size-fits-small ball is a perfect ball for young basketball fans. Coming from the highly trusted likes of Spalding, the Rookie Gear is a composite cover ball that comes in youth size only: 27.5”.
This is a very high-quality ball for youth, and with this kind of excellence, we’d expect the Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor to be quite a bit more expensive. However, this is one of the best parts about this ball: the Rookie Gear is one of the least costly items on our list. This alone makes it worth a try, especially if you have kids under eight.
As with all composite cover balls, the Rookie Gear has slightly less durability than a rubber ball. This can sometimes be an issue with young kids, who can be rougher with their equipment than teens.
Another special consideration: the Rookie Gear is about 15% lighter than the standard weight. This lightness will help kids develop some technique. This is a perfect strategy for young ball-players: they’re naturally still developing technique while they’re small. As they grow older, their technique will develop with their height. The Rookie Gear is an extremely high-quality youth ball, perfect for the next generation of pros.
- Super affordable
- Composite cover gives better grip than a rubber ball
- Weighted specifically for youth
- Awesome colors: fun for kids!
- That this ball is weighted, lighter will be a con as the kids grow older
- Composite cover is less durable than rubber.
We love the SportimeMax Hands-On Junior Basketball. This basketball is specially made as your kid's first ball: painted onto the ball itself are handprints that indicate where your child should put their hands when shooting. Now, you might be thinking, “but my child’s a lefty. What about them?” The Sportime has you covered! Hand placement is color-coded: blue for righties, red for lefties.
The colored hand placement has several advantages. For one, it allows your child to think relatively quickly about hand placement. Secondly, the kids who “already know everything” can sneak a glance at the hand placement keys without losing face.
Beyond the hand placement markers, this ball is generally a high-quality rubber ball intended for kids. The rubber is soft and grippy, not slick like some cheaper kids’ basketballs. This ball comes in one size: 27”.
- Hand placement cues are excellent for first-time basketball players
- Rubber means excellent bounce for first-time dribblers
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor play
- Good price for the quality
- Children will outgrow this ball quickly; it’s only made for under-eights who are just trying to grasp the basics
- Rubber isn’t as easy to grip and control as composite/leather covers
Kids love the fun look of the Tachikara 2-Tone Rubber Basketball. This ball comes in many colors, each with a simple 2-tone look that is very aesthetically appealing. Choose between green-and-white, pink-and-white, yellow-and-white, or any of the other color combinations! If your kid just wants the classic orange, this is also available.
In addition to being a cool and colorful invitation to play basketball, the Tachikara 2-tone holds its own when it comes to playing the sport. It’s an intermediate size and weight ball (28.5”), which means it’s regulated for girls ages eight and up and perfect for boys between the ages of 9 and 12.
This ball is also incredibly affordable and is officially the most affordable basketball on our list. That said, however, this basketball has some downsides buyers need to be aware of. It has relatively low durability compared with some of the other basketballs on our list, and it needs to be regularly re-inflated.
- Customizable colors that kids love
- Extremely affordable
- Intermediate size is great for older children and some teens
- The rubber cover has a great bounce and is good for indoor and outdoor play
- Less durability than some of the other picks on our list
- Requires somewhat frequent reinflation
The ball of choice from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the Molten-X Series is an extremely high-quality ball that is perfect for kids who are getting serious about basketball. Made with a composite leather cover, the Molten-X Series has an outstanding grip.
This ball is only suitable for indoor use, but it plays like a dream in indoor use. It dribbles well, shoots well, and has insane control in store for any player lucky enough to handle it. The Molten-X Series comes in two sizes -- intermediate and official.
As a premium item, this basketball is definitely not suited for first-time basketball players. Its price is such that any parent who buys this for their kid should be absolutely sure their kid is serious about basketball. If the kid is serious about this sport, this basketball is an excellent choice for them.
- Molten-X Series represents the ultimate in grip and control
- The composite leather cover is high quality
- Highly durable
- FIBA approval means reliability
- Two-tone coloring (orange and white) is excellent for visibility during games
- Premium: somewhat expensive for casual players
Coming with a multitude of size and color options, we might say that the Chance Premium is the most customizable ball on our list. It’s the various looks that Chance balls have, however, that grab our attention. These balls are instant classics: choose between the Sebastian (beige and teal), the James (classic brown), or the Pebble (teal).
Reasonably priced considering how cool they look, the Chance Premium basketballs are like Warby Parker started making basketballs. These balls have a retro vibe that children and adults love.
Chance balls are also known for their quality. This is a more premium ball, so expect to last a lot longer than some of the cheaper balls on this list. As a composite cover ball, the Chance also has an excellent grip that may last the occasional player two to three years. Furthermore, this ball has outstanding air retention.
- Great air retention
- Awesome color scheme
- Highly durable
- Composite cover: great grip
- Available in sizes from youth to official (27.5-29.5”)
- More expensive than many items on this list
The Best Basketball For Kids
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. Thanks for reading. All told, our number one pick for the best basketball for kids is the Spalding All-Conference Basketball. Great for all ages, with a composite cover that is in many ways the “Goldilocks” of materials, this basketball is our number one choice for the best basketball for kids.
If you’re ready to buy, you can follow this link. Remember: the best basketball for kids is always the one they love and gets them out on the court! Whether it’s color, durability, grip quality, or that special x-factor that speaks to them, every kid deserves a basketball they love. Good luck!