How to Care for a Basketball
- How do I care for my basketball?
- How should I store my basketball?
- How much air should be in my basketball?
- How do I inflate or deflate my basketball?
- Do synthetic basketballs work as well as leather?
- What should I look for in a good basketball for kids?
- What is the difference between an outdoor basketball and an indoor basketball?
- How is a basketball constructed and what are its dimensions?
- What makes basketballs bounce?
Whether your basketball is made from rubber, synthetic materials, or full grain hide, it is important that you take proper care of your basketball for years of hoops indoors or out.
A few tips for keeping your basketball in top shape include:
- Store at room temperature
- Keep the right amount of air in your basketball
- Wipe off dirt and debris with a damp cloth after use
- Clean using a mild soap and warm water
- Do not soak
- Do not expose to cold, heat, direct sunlight, rain, or other harsh elements
- Use your basketball for its intended purpose
If you regularly play basketball, keep it full of air and store it indoors at room temperature. If you don't use it regularly, or need to pack it, you can deflate it - but still store it at room temperature. Do not leave it outdoors, in direct sunlight, or store it near a heater.
Basketballs tend to lose a little air when left unused and through normal use over time. In order to bounce properly, basketballs need the right amount of air pressure. Different manufactures may vary depending on the ball's size, series, and materials. In general, the ball when dropped should bounce back about two-thirds of the way back up from which it was dropped, or it may have too little or too much air. When a ball is manufactured and inflated, it is drop-tested to determine its ideal air pressure which is then printed on the ball near the hole. On average, balls are inflated to about 8 lbs per square inch. Instructions on the ball should tell you something like, "inflate to 7-9 pounds".
To get the most out of your basketball it is very important to keep it at its recommended air pressure, and to inflate and deflate it correctly. A few general things to remember: Do not use high air pressure, such as the kind you fill the tires of your car with, to inflate your basketball. And do not fill your basketball when it is cold, or it could cause the bladder to burst. When deflating your ball for storing, it's recommended that 3-4 pounds be left in the ball to keep its cover from getting damaged.
Look at the recommended air pressure printed on the ball. A few simple steps to inflating correctly:
- Using a ball pump, apply a little vaseline or special lubricant to the needle
- Hold the valve firmly while inserting the needle
- Inflate slowly to prevent rupturing the bladder
- Inflate to the manufacturer's specifications
- To deflate: Simply insert the pin into the hole of the basketball to allow air to come out
It depends on quality, and what the ball is designed for - indoors, out, or all surfaces. Leather indoor basketballs will perform better on a smooth gym court. All-surface basketballs are build for indoors and out, but will likely not match the performance of a high end indoor basketball. Basketball played on your driveway or outdoor court would call for an outdoor basketball.
In general, synthetic basketballs have been reported to be a little harder to control on the indoor court than leather ones, and bounce a little less evenly. With newer technologies, some series have made synthetic balls a little easier to grip than leather. Leather basketballs tend to absorb sweat and moisture making them more vulnerable to degrading over time, unlike the more durable synthetic basketballs, which may put your synthetic ball out on top in terms of performing better over the long run. But, like many things, it really comes down to a matter of feel and preference. Every great hoops player probably has his or her favorite basketball.
For small kids, you want a durable versatile basketball that works well indoors and out, holds air well, is textured and easy for small hands to handle, and doesn't require a lot of maintenance. Most top selling basketball manufacturers have many great series for young players.
Most outdoor basketballs are made of rubber or a rubber-synthetic composite and are generally intended for asphalt courts, making them a more durable basketball. They tend to be more resilient to the outdoor elements such as rough surfaces, moisture, and changes in temperature. Dirt is also less likely to stick to an outdoor basketball. Indoor basketballs are made mostly from leather or absorbent leather-like materials making them more sensitive to indoor performance. They're designed for use on smooth indoor courts, so are a little more prone to wear and tear and should not be used outdoors. There are also indoor/outdoor, or all-surface basketballs designed to be used anywhere.
A basketball consists of an outside cover, and an inflatable inner bladder. The cover is made of leather, rubber, synthetic rubber, or a composition of materials. The bladder is made of butyl rubber combined with polyester and nylon threads. Labels and decals are either printed on the ball, or imprinted using a special foil process. Basketball designs vary according to governing body regulations and professional leagues, and modern technology is always finding ways to improve the mechanics of the basketball. The dimensions of a basketball also vary, depending on its league or series. The standard regulation NBA basketball is just under 30 inches around by 9.4 inches across, and inflated weighs from 20 to 22 ounces.
Basketballs bounce because of the laws of physics. So without getting too scientific, it's basically due to the pressurized air inside the ball working in tandem with the ball's outer construction, and the laws of gravity. All three elements - air pressure, the ball's construction, and the laws of gravity combine to send an inflated basketball rebounding back when it is dropped without our even thinking about it!