Whether you plan to take your basketball games indoors over the rainy season or the wintertime, or you are ready for an upgrade, choosing the best indoor basketball can be tricky. I got you, no worries.
The problem with indoor basketball is that they are meant for smooth surfaces. Take it on the rough asphalt or concrete, and it will get damaged and scuffed in no time.
Moreover, such balls do not come with very deep channels. Taking an indoor basketball outdoors will get dust and dirt in the channels, so grip and control become impossible.
Indeed, you can also find balls that work well indoors and outdoors, but if you are mostly playing indoors, it pays off to choose something suitable for such courts. Here is what you need to know.
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Why it stands out
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Spalding Precision TF-1000
Best Spalding Indoor Basketball
Great air retention capabilities
Best Baden Indoor Basketball
Multiple unique technologies for control
Nike Elite Tournament
Best Nike Indoor Basketball
More durable than other basketballs
Wilson NBA Authentic Series
Best Wilson Indoor Basketball
Impressive leather design and feel
Molten BG3800 Series
Best Molten Indoor Basketball
Good air retention technology
Wilson Evolution Game
Best 29.5 Indoor Basketball
Excellent feel and grip
Best 28.5 Indoor Basketball
Best Basketball for the Money
Spalding Rookie Gear
Best Indoor Youth Basketball
Works well both indoors and outdoors
I have tried pretty much every branded indoor basketball out there. I am not talking about cheap stuff you can buy from general stores, but about branded stuff that is meant to provide quality and last for ages. Here are my top recommendations.
Spalding sticks to classics. While probably the most famous brand in terms of basketball, the truth is modern requirements have brought other balls forward. With all these, Spalding is still one of the top brands out there, and Precision TF-1000 is probably its best indoor basketball.
You can have quality time with any Spalding basketball designed for indoor uses, but this one feels better than the rest. It has an eco grip composite cover that enhances control on the ball – it sticks to your hand, but can easily release when shooting. It also features a deep channel design – another classic.
The bounce will not be affected by channels, though – after all, it has a cushioned carcass for a soft feel. Spalding recommends inflating it to 8 psi. Other than that, it is worth noting that the ball is official in a few high school associations.
What makes Spalding a front runner is its capability to enhance air retention, and this model makes no exception either. The perfectly balanced butyl bladder keeps the air trapped in. Its integrity is also perfect due to the nylon windings.
This ball is very similar to Spalding TF-1000 Legacy that I reviewed here. You probably wonder what differences you can find between these models. Not too many, to be honest. Legacy comes with deeper channels for enhanced control.
Deeper channels mean you can also use it outdoors occasionally – not too often or you will ruin the cover. Just because the channels are deeper, it does not mean the bounce is irregular – no issues there.
- Impressive air retention
- Official basketball in many high school associations
- Good control due to deep channels
- Deep channels do not affect the bounce
- Feels great to shoot with both dry and sweaty hands
- Not suitable for those who like the softness of composite balls
Baden may not be as popular as Spalding and Wilson, but just like The Rock, it is one of those names that have managed to gain notoriety with high-quality standards without actually costing a fortune – after all, you often pay for the brand name as well.
All in all, I played with this ball for a few months, and it quickly became one of my favorites. The attention to small details is what drew my attention. You have a unique composite microfiber cover that feels unusual, but somehow, it takes the grip to another level. Control is simply perfect.
The cushion control technology is patented and unavailable in other brands. The ball feels soft, while the bounce can be perfectly estimated. Baden claims it adds to the durability as well – to me, it feels like this is all about control.
The ball is available in a few sizes. It is NFHS approved and works wonders, regardless of what you want to do. It makes no difference if you practice passes or free throws or you play the game of a lifetime – you can count on it.
- Perfect balance
- Suitable for all kinds of playing styles
- Multiple technologies to enhance control
- Durable design
- Available in sizes 6 and 7
- Some players need some adjustment because it is lighter than other basketballs
Alright, I know what you are thinking – Nike is not specialized in basketballs. It cannot compete against Spalding or Wilson, but its limited basketball range is definitely worth some attention. In fact, you may be surprised by what the Elite Tournament has in store for you.
Most people will point to this option in terms of Nike’s flagship, so I had to give it a try. Compared to other basketballs mentioned in this article, it has super deep channels. It is mostly aimed at indoor basketball, but the deep channels make it suitable for outdoors, too – concrete wears it out faster, though.
I would say it is an indoor-outdoor basketball, rather than an indoor one.
The composite exterior is mostly based on rubber and about 16% faux leather. It does not affect the grip – not perfect, but good enough to ensure you can control the ball in all circumstances.
The high level of rubber in its composition makes it more durable than other basketballs, though. The bounce is great, and there is no room for surprises. Keep it inflated at the right standards – 7.9 or 8 psi – and you will love it.
To summarize, I would say Nike’s Elite Tournament is the best indoor basketball if you do not want to spend a lot of money but you want some of the features available in other balls – no fancy bells and whistles or technologies.
- Great value for money
- Durable construction
- Decent for both indoor and outdoor uses
- Good grip
- Super deep channels
- It might take a while to get used to those deep channels
Some say Evolution Game is the best indoor basketball. Some others recommend the NCAA Indoor/Outdoor. I think both of them are great, but think about it for a second – this is the official NBA basketball. No chart list would be complete without it.
This ball became official in 2021 and replaced Spalding’s ball, which was used for decades. This unit is based on 100% genuine leather. If you have always wondered what it feels like, give it a try, and you will be impressed. You can tell the difference straight away.
The ball is made for outdoor uses too, but it will wear out fast. It has a professional and soft feel, but it also provides bounce consistency. Furthermore, leather is durable. The inflation retention lining ensures air will be trapped for ages.
Leather comes with a drawback, though – it takes time to break in. The ball will not be perfect, but you need to use it for ages in order to experience the real feel. In the NBA, they use a bounce machine to break balls in before they are actually played – a machine made by Spalding.
- Superior quality and construction
- Durable construction
- Excellent for passing, dribbling, and shooting
- Exquisite consistency in bouncing
- Official NBA ball
- Takes a long time to break in – the NBA actually uses a machine to break basketballs in
Molten went a bit downwards, in my opinion. Its first basketballs could easily compete against more expensive brands, but then, the successors lost handling. Molten added some pebbles on the surface to improve handling, but it went the other way.
Now, the ball is still great, but it needs a bit of time, out of the box, it feels a bit tacky. It sticks to your hand, but it almost feels like you have a bit of a clue. The composite leather design does not feel very soft – not an issue, though.
Now, the tacky surface is gone after a while. You need to wear it out a little. If you ask me, I would rather play it outdoors for a while – things will get better after that, so you can move back indoors. In fact, this ball is designed for both indoor and outdoor uses.
The FIBA-approved unit has the official 12-panel design and two color tones. It has a superior butyl bladder that keeps the air in – probably its best feature.
- Feels durable and solid
- Good air retention technology
- Good indoors and outdoors
- The design will not affect the grip
- Good on the skin, despite being a composite material
- Feels too sticky out of the box, but good once the top layer wears out
The Wilson Evolution Game could be the best 29.5 indoor basketball if you want to feel the official experience. It is a common basketball in numerous high schools around the USA for good reasons. It also comes in more colors, as well as a few different sizes apart from size 7.
Despite being smaller than the official size, this ball impressed me with its signature EVO feel. It has a soft surface that makes control a breeze. The grip is simply spectacular – you can control it with the tip of your fingers if you feel like losing it. Simply touching it will change everything.
The composite cover also enhances the grip, which is also responsible for durability. Composite channels offer consistency throughout the surface of the ball, as well as a solid texture. For maximum efficiency, inflate it at 7.9 psi.
- Extraordinary grip
- Provides good control
- Durable construction
- Available in more sizes and colors
- Official in many high schools
- May feel a bit mushy if you are used to classic Spalding basketballs
It is easy to tell why Wilson is the official supplier of basketballs for the NBA – it has grown in quality standards over the past few decades and creates some of the leading options on the market these days. If you are after an intermediate size, this is the best indoor basketball, in my opinion.
The final four edition has a high-definition pebble and a grip that stands out – dribbling, shooting, handling, you name it. It sticks to the hand, but it can easily fly away when shooting. The deep channel construction guarantees a top-notch grip – it can be used both indoors and outdoors, by the way.
The premium carcass design adds to the durability, as well as the rebound – you can tell precisely where the ball will bounce. Make sure you give it a clean with warm water after using it outside – just a matter of maintaining the grip and surface. Also, inflate it to not more than 7.9 psi for maximum effectiveness.
- Great grip and control
- Deep channels make it suitable for outdoor uses too
- Rebound is flawless
- Available in a few other sizes and colors too
- Good durability
- The surface feels a bit slippery at first, but handling becomes much easier after a few games
To keep it classic and simple, Spalding and Wilson are your best choices. But every now and then, a new basketball breaks through and grabs all the attention. This is what The Rock did. It is one of the most popular basketballs out there, so I obviously had to give it a try – no regrets there.
The Rock is suitable for indoor uses only. I used it for half a year, and I must say it is quite impressive – excellent value for money. It does things that you would normally expect from a more expensive ball. It is based on 100% leather, so quality will not disappoint.
The grip? Perfect. You would expect that from leather anyway. Control is good, as well as the rebound. But what really surprised me is the fact that control is consistent. Sure, even when playing indoors, dust can still get into the channels. Your hands can still get sweaty, and you lose control.
This is a common problem with big brands – Wilson, Spalding, and so on. But The Rock has managed to overcome this problem somehow. Consistency makes this underdog one of the best basketballs I have ever tried.
- Control is flawless, even when sweaty hands
- Good grip
- Quality design – 100% leather
- Deep channels to enhance control
- Soft and comfortable feel
- Deep channels make the bounce feel a bit odd until you get used to them
When it comes to youngsters, chances are they are less likely to care. They will use indoor basketball everywhere, and that means outdoors too. My recommendation? Get a basketball suitable for both indoor and outdoor uses.
The Rookie Gear from Spalding is the best indoor youth basketball, in my opinion. It comes in size 5 – 27.5″ – and features a performance composite cover, which aims to help the youth develop technique. It is also lighter than other balls in this range, which helps them develop skills.
The ball is usually shipped inflated, but it is not a general rule – make sure you have a pump just in case. Channels are in the right depth to prevent slippery surfaces when used outdoors.
It is durable and well built, so the bounce, grip, and control are excellent.
- Suitable for both indoor and outdoor uses
- Good value for money
- Quality construction
- Lightweight profile
- Faux leather feels a bit harder than in more professional basketballs
Choosing the Best Indoor Basketball – Our Buying Guide
Choosing the best indoor basketball is not all about others’ recommendations. Sure, I make some suggestions based on my experience, and I feel confident that you can learn from them. But at the end of the day, it also depends on your needs. Here is what you need to look for.
Different materials provide different properties. Outdoor balls are based on rubber – you want durability due to harsh surfaces. When it comes to indoor basketballs, composite leather is the most common option out there.
Not only is it softer than rubber, but it also provides a good grip and makes the sport more enjoyable. However, composite leather is not as durable as rubber – therefore, you can find rubber indoor basketballs too.
Genuine leather is used by professionals. It does not come cheap, but it will enhance your experience from all points of view. Such balls require a long break-in period, but once you get there, control and grip are simply unrivaled.
The grip is affected by both the material and your skin. If you have sweaty hands, you are more likely to lose grip. Some balls come with a surface that reduces the moisture as you play, so you have more control.
Also, the grip is affected by the channel depth. If they get filled with dust, the ball becomes slippery.
Keep an eye on the bounce, too – difficult when you shop online, so look for recommendations or just try out different balls at a local court. Generally speaking, the smoother the ball is, the more consistent the ball will be.
Deeper channels can affect the bounce, despite helping the grip. Sometimes, you need to find a middle solution or make a bit of a compromise.
The air pressure is normally between 7.5 psi and 8.5 psi. Different brands have different recommendations. There should be no major issues if the pressure fluctuates. However, a ball that loses air all the time can be very frustrating.
Quality indoor balls are less likely to have this issue though. Keep in mind that pressure goes down a bit in the wintertime, as the temperature drops. Other than that, a good basketball should not require pumping too often.
it makes sense to become familiar with official sizes, especially if you want to play in official leagues or associations. Changing the ball size for an official game can ruin your game. Here are a few official sizes to consider:
- Size 5 – mostly aimed at youths, 27.5” in circumference
- Size 6 – standard ball for women and older youths, 28.5” in circumference
- Size 7 – official size for men, 29.5” in circumference
Best Indoor Basketball – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which brand of basketball is the best?
Hard to tell because different players have different preferences. There are two big players on the market, though – Spalding and Wilson. However, Baden, Molten, and Nike are worth some consideration as well. Officially, the NBA uses Wilson basketballs, after using Spalding for a few decades.
Can you play indoor basketball outside?
You can, but I do not recommend it. Sure, there are times when you have no other options. But generally, indoor basketballs are softer, and their covers will shred in no time if used outdoors – a single game will not destroy the ball, but it can show some wear.
How do you take care of indoor basketball?
Simply keep the ball inflated all the time and store it indoors – room temperature is ideal. You can deflate it if you barely play basketball. However, it should not be stored outdoors or close to a heater.
The best indoor basketball is a concept that does not exist. Ask different players about it, and you will get different answers. Most of them will revolve around the above-mentioned options, though – which one is the best? Totally up to you, your style, and your preferences.