The 10 Best Basketballs
10. Franklin Sports Junior
- holds its shape well
- great for schools or daycare centers
- air valve sticks out a tad
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
9. Under Armour Stephen Curry
- rugged rubber construction
- best for outdoor use
- only comes in the official size
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
8. Spalding TF-1000
- comes fully inflated
- good for daily use
- bounce is sometimes inconsistent
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
7. Molten X-Series
- consistent surface texture
- two-tone color is easy to see
- a bit smaller than regulation size
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
6. Spalding Replica
- makes a great sound on wood courts
- has a nice tacky feel
- very consistent bounce
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
5. Under Armour 495
- holds up well on any surface
- available in three sizes
- ideal for casual play
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
4. Wilson NCAA Solution
- durable and well-constructed
- core is cushioned for longevity
- doesn't need to be broken in
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
3. Baden Elite
- long-lasting grip
- resists moisture absorption
- good for indoor shooting practice
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
2. Spalding NBA Zi/O
- color doesn't fade over time
- great for all skill levels
- advanced foam lining
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
1. Wilson Evolution
- tacky feel even with sweaty hands
- can withstand heavy use
- doesn't need to be pumped often
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
When To Buy a Leather Basketball, When To Buy a Rubber One
Most people, when shopping for a basketball, tend to gravitate toward what is considered to be a regulation model. A regulation basketball has a leather exterior with a dimpled surface that allows for an ample grip.
In addition, any regulation ball should weigh approximately 1.7 pounds and measure 30 inches in circumference, with slight variations depending on how much air that ball has in it. The NBA uses a regulation ball that is manufactured by Spalding, but companies like Franklin, Wilson, and Rawlings manufacture their own regulation basketballs, as well.
There is a drawback to certain regulation basketballs in that their leather panels may have been designed specifically for indoor play. More importantly, asphalt may cause a leather ball to wear, or even peel. Rubber balls, on the other hand, are much more geared toward use in a park, or on an outdoor court. The bright orange color of a rubber ball is great for playing at night, as well.
Rubber balls are less expensive, and they bounce higher if they're fully inflated, though leather balls are more durable, and they're less prone to being punctured. The majority of starter balls are made out of rubber, while there is a wide range of intermediate balls (both leather and rubber) that have been designed for indoor and outdoor play.
Several Drills To Improve Your Basketball Skills
If you want to get better at basketball, chances are you'll need to practice. Practice can be collaborative, and practice can be fun, but practice almost always begins by zeroing in on a handful of drills, the type that will allow you to build a foundation, and then progress as you continue along.
First things first: a player needs to be able to dribble before he can shoot. With that in mind, set up a line of orange cones, and weave your way through them while dribbling the ball. The cones are an essential part of this drill in that they stand just tall enough to keep you from cheating, and yet they're soft enough to prevent you from getting hurt. As your dribbling improves, you can work on alternating hands. You can also increase the difficulty level by shortening the distance between each cone.
The most basic passing drill involves scissor-jumping your way down the court while touch-passing a basketball back and forth with a partner. This drill is meant to improve speed and accuracy. But over time, you and your partner can expand to practicing bounce passes, one-hand passes, and perhaps even fast breaks, as well. In the event that a partner isn't available, you can still complete a similar drill by bouncing the ball against a wall.
Shooting drills are a matter of expanding one's range while adjusting weak mechanics. The most basic shooting drill involves marking off several spots around the perimeter. Every time you've completed a full rotation, double back around the arc. As your scoring percentage increases, expand the perimeter a little further. You'll improve your outside game by sharpening the range on every shot.
A Brief History of Basketball (By Way of Its Founder)
The first-ever basketball game was played as part of a YMCA gym class that took place during December of 1891. This class, which was moderated by a Massachusetts physician named James Naismith, consisted of 18 boys, who had been divided into a pair of nine-player groups. Naismith instructed that the objective of the game was to bounce, or dribble, a soccer ball before passing it, or shooting it toward one of two peach baskets, which had been set up along opposing sides of the YMCA hall.
Over the next few months, Naismith would facilitate a number of scrimmages. These early matches would provide the impetus for Naismith's 13 Basic Rules of Basket Ball. Among these rules was the notion that a soft leather ball should be used to minimize injury, that a player could not run while holding the ball, and that it should be a violation for any player to directly block the opposing team's basket.
The first-ever "basket balls" were paneled in leather and stitched like footballs along the cross-section. These balls were centered around a rubber bladder which was filled with air, enabling the ball to bounce with uncharacteristic lightness.
Throughout the first third of the 20th century, Dr. Naismith continued to hone the regulations of his game. Manufacturers, meanwhile, began to develop balls that were more rigid, dynamic, durable, and player-friendly. Basketball flourished as an amateur sport, with several colleges developing their own basketball clubs (Naismith famously founded the men's basketball program at the University of Kansas in 1898).
Basketball was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1936. One decade later, the NBA was formed. Unfortunately, Dr. Naismith never got to see an NBA game played. Naismith died of a brain hemorrhage in 1939. He was 78 years old.