Here are our top basketball picks for young players in 2021.

At Iron City Showdown, we aim to educate and inform players of all ages and sizes on the best products to boost their gameplay. Basketball is a favorite sport that players of all ages want to get better at and improve their skills.

The first step to honing a young player’s skills is owning a high-quality ball that suits their needs and environment. For a child, having a durable, versatile ball on outdoor and indoor courts is vital. They won’t need to worry about the ball deflating or wearing out so they can focus on fun. 

The top pick for young players comes down to the Spalding Rookie Gear Youth Basketball. This colorful and durable ball comes from the reputable Spalding brand and offers a great beginner ball. It allows for indoor and outdoor use and is brightly colored.

It is lightweight and gives young players a safe and maneuverable ball to practice at home or the court. For the price, it is a great beginner ball that will allow a young player to grasp the game before moving to a larger and heavier ball. 

Depending on the player, other youth basketballs may fit their specific needs and requirements. Many factors add up to buying the best ball for your young player’s needs and skill level. 

Keep reading for our comprehensive list of the top basketballs for youths that are available today.

  • Best Overall
  • 15% lighter to help develop technique
  • Designed for indoor and outdoor play
  • Best for Outdoors
  • Construction improves grip
  • Excellent rebound and durability
  • Best for Older Youths
  • Weight enhances dribbling practice
  • UA GRIPSKIN Composite for Ultimate Grip and Feel
  • Best for Beginners
  • Comes in multiple sizes
  • Rubber ball with leather feel

Best Youth Basketballs

The Spalding Rookie Gear basketball is our top pick for a young player for many reasons. 

It follows the youth size standards of 27.5 inches and is 15% lighter than other youth basketballs on the market. While this is not ideal for dribbling, it helps them practice their shooting without being a strain on their arms.

The composite leather coating of the ball keeps it durable and easy to use in a gym or on concrete. Kids are known to be rough on things, so knowing this ball will last through hours of play is a bonus.

It’s built like a traditional basketball as it has the same panels and texture. The design helps transition young players into regulation balls as they grow and develop their skills. Unlike the classic burnt orange, this ball has multicolored panels.

Spalding has been around since basketball became a competitive sport in 1984. The founder of the company was the original creator of the ball. It’s only natural the company holds the top spot and makes the standard professional ball used in the major leagues. 

The Wilson Killer Crossover Basketball is a durable ball that sticks out with a bright color that allows a child to keep track of the ball in a busy setting like a park or gym. This ball’s exceptional durability makes it the perfect match for the outdoor player. 

Practicing outside is one of the most traditional ways kids learn the game and get their practice in. You want them to get a lot of use out of a ball. The Wilson brand is a reliable company that makes quality sports equipment. The brand alone speaks volumes for the kind of ball you’ll get.

This ball’s texture and panel layout give optimal grip, and it’s a great size for small hands. Once again, this ball comes in at 27.5 inches and is a size 5. The texture is non-sticky, and the design keeps air locked in so it won’t deflate quickly.

Price-wise, this is an excellent buy for a young player learning the basics of the game and a quality for a ball that won’t break the bank. 

This Indoor/Outdoor ball from Under Armor has some heft to it. Unlike the prior basketballs, this one is best for indoor use. The UA GRIPSKIN composite makes it feel like a genuine leather ball.

It has a nice weight to help practice dribbling and ball control. This ball is optimal for a young player who’s serious about the game and wants to get the feeling of a bigger ball without it being larger. 

The weight of the Under Armor ball enhances dribbling practice. Youth balls tend to be lighter, which makes it easier for a child to handle. However, once they grow and move up to a size 6 or 7 ball, they might struggle with the weight change.

This ball is size 5, the best size for young players to get a feel for the game. The added weight and classic design of this ball allow a child to envision they’re playing on a big-league team.

The Mikasa BX100 ball comes in varying sizes, and it’s a fantastic starter ball for a child who wants to get into the game. It is a sturdy outdoor ball because of its weather resistance and rubber design.

It has a leather feel despite being a rubber ball, and while it’s still hard, it isn’t the worst rubber ball to be hit with while playing. Safety is always a concern with children. This ball is sturdy but won’t cause any serious injuries if playtime gets rough.

The Mikasa BX100 comes in multiple sizes, letting the child age up into a ball when they’re comfortable moving up. Since children are fast learners and they will learn best with consistency. 

Lower in price, this ball offers lasting playtime for a beginner that is focused on outdoor use.

Buying Guide for Best Youth Basketballs

So what do you need to look for while shopping for basketballs? Here are some important factors we’ve put together to help you find out which ball is for you or your young player. These are universal tips and information for anyone looking for a new ball.


Choosing a basketball for an adult or teenager is similar to choosing one for a child. There are factors you need to look at surrounding where, how, and the time they are looking to play. 

A serious player doesn’t need a ball with bright colors and artistic panel design. They need to play with a ball they can trust and use consistently. Purchasing a ball similar to the standard used in competitive play lets you learn with a ball you’ll find everywhere.

Depending on the player’s age and size, you may need to go bigger or smaller for practice purposes.

Here is a guide to sizes:

  • Men’s professional leagues and kids over age 13 use a size 7 basketball, which is 29.5 inches in circumference.
  • Professional women’s leagues use a size 6 ball with 28.5 inches in circumference. 
  • Youth leagues for children ages 9-12 also use size 6 basketballs.
  • The size 5 basketball is meant for 9 and under and is 27.5 inches in circumference.

Children are all different sizes and grow at their own pace. Let your child try out a size 5 or 6 before deciding on what they need at the time. If they can comfortably palm it, then it’s probably right for them.

For older players, the advice remains the same. Check to see if you can palm the ball easily and maintain grip while active on the court. The information above is relevant for an older player trying to get into the sport or improve their skills.


Playing indoors or outdoors is one of the most crucial aspects of picking the right basketball.

If a game will take place in the cul de sac with friends on the weekend, a genuine leather ball is not the right choice for that game. Instead, try finding a rubber ball that will withstand the concrete and competition. If it’s a recreational game at a local gym, a synthetic basketball is the best option for everyday use.

Leather, synthetic (composite), and rubber are the three primary materials to make basketballs. Below is a more comprehensive list of each of the benefits and downfalls you should pay attention to while picking out the right ball. 

Related: Best Outdoor Basketballs


Leather basketballs are what the pros use. They’re genuine leather that has a break-in period to perform at peak and meet gameplay standards. These are the most expensive basketballs and tend to wear out faster. 

The feeling and sound of playing with a leather ball is worth it for some passionate fans. Leather basketballs don’t do much damage on a gym floor. However, an outdoor asphalt court will tear these to shreds. These aren’t the best choice for young players.

The leather absorbs sweat and allows players to keep excellent grip and control during the game. Leather is the way to go if you are a serious indoor competitor and want to spend a little extra money for that genuine feel the pros have.

Synthetic (Composite) 

Composite balls are ideal for the general player. They are indoors or outdoor balls because they hold up on rough terrain and don’t destroy the shiny gym floor beyond repair. Synthetic is the most commonly used type of basketball. 

These don’t need to have a break-in period and come ready to play right out of the package. For a recreational player who wants to improve their skills, a synthetic basketball is the best choice for a game indoors or out.

The Spalding Rookie Gear ball is a composite material and best suits young players just getting into the game and learning the skills. 


The rubber basketball is hard and the most durable. It is made for outdoor playing and will hold up for many intense recreational games. This is the kind of ball you don’t want to be hit by and should stay in the hands of someone who won’t get hurt by throwing it. 

Sure, these are durable and useful for outside playing. However, if a child is too small, they won’t have any fun if they can’t dribble or throw properly. Enjoying the game is the most important part for a child.

Things to Look Out For:

A kid might see a basketball with cool colors and shapes and decide that’s the ball for them without thinking any further. If they’re looking to run around outside and toss it with friends occasionally, go for it! That’s the fun of being a kid.

Many youth basketballs have unique panel shapes and layouts that affect someone’s grip while they play. Since they don’t follow the same pattern as most standard balls, it can be frustrating to play with. If a child is looking to play basketball in their local league or school, look for a youth basketball similar to one used by pros. 

Pumping air into a basketball to make it as bouncy as possible might seem like the best thing for it, especially if a child is left unsupervised with the pump. Unfortunately, this causes it to rupture faster and not have the same balance when bouncing the ball. 

Make sure not to over-inflate the ball, but when the basketball does start to lose air, don’t push the pump needle in too fast. This can damage the air bladder inside the tube and do the opposite of inflation. 

An adult should help a child with this process to ensure no accidental damage occurs. 

Do Your Research

Each player will develop their preference for a ball. The grip, bounce, sound, or even color may matter more than the quality to certain kids. 

Identify what you want from the ball or how your child intends to play. Everyone has their basketball preferences. Your child might not want to play competitively but rather fit in with the neighbors or an older sibling. They may also fall so in love with the sport they dedicate their time to it. 

Conclusion: Basketballs for Young People

The best basketball for youth remains the Spalding Rookie Gear ball. The longstanding brand that shows excellence and durability for a fair price keeps it at the top of the list. 

If your child wants to keep playing as they age, there are larger sizes they can keep using that grow alongside them. 

Learning on a ball that is good for both indoor and outdoor is helpful to improve their skills and make playtime more fun. 

The Under Armor ball maintains the classic burnt orange of a professional one, allowing your young player to feel like they’re in a real game. This boost in confidence is sure to aid in their basketball journey.

You might also like: Best Basketball Hoops for Youths & Kids

About the author

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.