Whether in the gym, at the park, or on the driveway, if youíre playing some hoops, you need a basketball. But should you choose leather, synthetic, or a bargain brand? We find out which one makes a slam dunk.
The type of basketball for you depends on how and where you’re going to play:
Leather, the most expensive option, is used in all professional and highly competitive organizations (NBA, Olympic Games, WNBA, NCAA and NAIA. It’s best used on gym floors since outdoor surfaces can wear out the leather faster.
Synthetic has a similar feel to leather but can be used on concrete and asphalt (even wet conditions) without wearing out like leather. It’s also more economical than leather.
Rubber basketballs are inexpensive and good for entry-level playing and can be used indoors or outdoors.
The ball should feel comfortable in your hands so that it feels good to dribble and shoot.
For smaller kids, you can buy a smaller, lighter basketball to help them get better control before moving up to regulation size and weight.
A properly inflated ball should bounce at least 4 feet. Keep it pumped up for best performance.
Some manufacturers market a “glitz and glam” basketball that may have multi-coloured panels or a metallic effect. These balls are better in a trophy case or for team photos, and don’t do well on the court.
We challenged some budding hoop stars to some 3-on-3 to help us find the MVP of basketballs. All our test basketballs were synthetic and regulation size. We tested:
- Spalding: $39
- Nike: $19.99
- Wilson: $14.99
- Franklin: $10
- Our young stars chose the Spalding, not only for its good grip when playing, but also for its superior bounce in a blind bounce-touch test.
OUR TOP PICK
If your players are more serious, the ball from Spalding, the official ball supplier to the NBA, is a good choice. For some casual fun on the driveway or in the park, you can’t go wrong with any of the test products we tried.