Differences between Indoor and Outdoor Basketball Balls

If you are a basketball player or a true basketball fan, the difference between an indoor and outdoor basketball does not come as a surprise to you. You most likely have handled both balls at some point, and you could tell from their feelings that the balls come with differences. Indoor and outdoor basketball balls are indeed very different. Although they both serve the same purpose in a game, their differences do matter. Let’s see what these variations are.

1.    Makeup Material

The very first and perhaps obvious difference between an indoor and outdoor basketball ball is the materials they are each made of. An indoor ball is made up of full grain leather. This means that the leather used to make the ball is original and has little to no synthetic additions to it. Therefore the ball is smooth, heavier and consistent.

On the other hand, an outdoor ball is made of rubber. This automatically makes it lighter and a bit rough to the feel. Because of the material differences, the balls automatically will be different when put to use.

2.    Readiness to Use

A rubber ball comes in ready to use from the minute it is packed at the manufacturing point. Once you have it in your hands, all you need to do is get into the court and start playing. The feeling that you get on the first day is the feeling you will get to the very last time you use it.

This is not the same for the indoor leather ball. The indoor ball will require a break-in process. This means that before putting it to an actual game, you will have to practice with it for a while. You will have to make your hands, and the ball used to each other. You will also have to learn how to handle it; which places are best to hold it and how hard or soft you have to bounce it.

Once the ball is introduced to the court, then it creates its consistency.

3.    Durability and Flexibility

All factors constant, an indoor basketball ball lasts longer than an outdoor ball. Why? Because generally, leather lasts longer than rubber. The leather is tougher and harder to break and will take a long while before it gives in to wear and tear. A rubber ball will chip and peel faster than its counterpart if they are both put in the same conditions.

That being said, there are a lot of uncertain factors that will determine just how long your ball will stay before you have to replace it. The first factor being used. If you use the indoor ball outside, then you will notice that it will break faster than the rubber ball. This is because the rubber ball is not made for concrete and tarmac.

An indoor ball needs to be played on a hardwood court and nothing else. Using it for outside games will damage it hard and fast. The advantage of an outdoor ball is that it can be used for indoor games, although it will not be for the best results. It may not be as smooth as playing with an indoor ball, but it will not destroy it either. Unfortunately, this is not true for the indoor basketball ball.

Another determining factor is weather conditions. An outdoor ball is exposed to harsh conditions as opposed to indoor balls where the general atmospheric conditions are the same. An outdoor ball will go through water, dust, mud, and ice. These different conditions play a major role in contributing to its fast wearing out.

You should, therefore, make sure to take care of your outdoor ball just as you would your indoor one. This way, your outdoor ball will stand a chance of surviving longer than it would if left outside.

4.    Cost

The two types of basketball balls vary greatly when it comes to price. As expected, the indoor ball is far much expensive than the outside basketball ball. The best indoor basketball balls can go for up to 100 dollars, whereas you can get a perfectly functioning outdoor ball for 17 dollars. Nevertheless, it is all justified seeing that leather is much more expensive to manufacture and process than rubber.

5.    Ball Game

Now, if we are looking at which ball is better at playing, then the indoor basketball ball will be the winner without bias or prejudice. As it has been mentioned before, the indoor ball offers a lot of consistency. This means that, for example, if the ball bounces 4 inches when you give it a normal bounce with your normal force without straining on day one, the ball will bounce 4 inches to the very last day.

Outdoor balls, however, reduce consistency as days go by. It is not sure as to what causes them to stop being bouncy. In terms of grip levels, the indoor basketball ball has a much firmer grip. This, together with its weight, makes it harder to slip thereby allowing you to dribble and bounce in a more assured manner.

Although an outdoor ball is rough to the touch, it has a more relaxed grip. This can be attributed to the fact that the rubber material has not much absorption abilities. Therefore when your hands sweat during a game, the ball becomes easier to snatch or slip from your hands. The leather on the indoor ball has absorbing power. Therefore sweaty hands will not cause any compromise or difficulty during game time.


It is, therefore, safe to say that although the indoor basketball ball is more superior when it comes to its cover material and gameplay, the outdoor ball also has its perks. It is cheap therefore easier to get; it is more flexible in that it can be used for both indoor and outdoor games and it is ready to use from the word go.

It is, however, important to keep and use the balls in their respective areas of the specification for better and longer use. Nonetheless, if you are just a fan or a casual player who plays basketball on the weekends, then you should get an outdoor basketball as it is less expensive.


What do you think?


Written by Monica Gill

Years Of Membership


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