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Expert Shopper Sports & Fitness

The best ball pump

Which ball pump is best?

A deflated ball isn’t any fun when you just want to play. If you’ve ever tried to play basketball with an underinflated ball, for instance, you know it just doesn’t bounce. If you want to get the most out of your inflatable sports equipment, you need a quality ball pump.

The best ball pump will be compact and easy to carry so that you can bring it with you to the court or the field. The Nike Essential Ball Pump is a favorite amongst sports enthusiasts because you can take it anywhere easily.

What to know before you buy a ball pump

Manual vs. electric ball pumps

The two main types of ball pumps are manual and electric. 

Manual: A manual ball pump is more affordable and always ready to go. You do not have to worry about charging it or having a nearby power source. The downside is it requires effort to pump up a ball. If you only have one ball to pump up, this is not a big deal, but a manual ball pump may become burdensome if you are a coach with many balls to pump.

Electric: An electric ball pump does the work for you. It requires no more effort than carefully inserting the needle and turning on the pump. On the downside, an electric pump will be more expensive. If you run out of power, you will not be able to use it, so you must ensure it’s charged or you are near a power source to operate it.

A ball pump is not a bicycle pump

If you have a bicycle pump and can accept a needle to pump up a ball, you can pump up your sports balls with this type of air pump. However, since a bicycle tire has a much higher psi than a sports ball, a ball pump is not powerful enough to inflate a bicycle tire.

What to look for in a quality ball pump

Air gauge

Although it is not essential for casual play, an air gauge tells you how much air pressure is inside of your ball. This will keep you from overinflating or under-inflating your ball. If the ball pump you are considering does not have a built-in gauge, and you want to know the exact pressure of your ball, you will need to purchase a separate ball gauge.

Dual-action pump

A dual-action ball pump is a special time-saving device designed to deliver air whether you are pushing or pulling the pump handle. In effect, this can cut the pumping time in half.


Needles are not expensive items, but they are easily lost. A ball pump that comes with a few backup needles shouldn’t raise the price of your ball pump, but it will be greatly appreciated if one gets lost or bent.

How much you can expect to spend on a ball pump

At the low end, you can get a budget ball pump for around $4. If you’d prefer a high-end, electric pump, those can cost as much as $30 or more.

Ball pump FAQ

Do you have any tips for inflating a sports ball?

A. Pumping up a sports ball is relatively simple. There are three critical tips to keep in mind.

  1. Moisten the needle to help the needle slide more easily into the ball. While many use saliva or water, others recommend using a dab of Vaseline because it is less abrasive. However, saliva is more convenient because it is always with you.
  2. Be sure to insert the needle straight into the ball. If the needle goes in at an angle, it can pop the ball.
  3. Keep the needle straight as you pump. If you apply pressure at an angle, the needle can bend.

How much air pressure should my sports balls have?

A. If your air pump has a pressure gauge on it, you can pump your sports balls up to a precise pressure. The best place to look for the ideal pressure is directly on the ball. In general, inflate a volleyball between 4.26 to 4.61 psi, a basketball between 7.5 and 8.5 psi, a football between 12.5 and 13.5 psi and a soccer ball between 8.5 and 15.6 psi.

What’s the best ball pump to buy?

Top ball pump

Nike Essential Ball Pump

What you need to know: This is a portable, no-frills hand pump sold by a trusted brand.

What you’ll love: This compact ball pump is easy to transport and store, so you can just toss it in your gym bag and always have it with you when needed. The efficient pump allows you to fill up your ball quickly so that you’re ready to play. Purchase includes one needle.

What you should consider: Some users do not like the fact that the hose does not detach.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Macy’s

Top ball pump for the money


What you need to know: This compact ball pump has a soft needle adapter to help keep from bending needles while pumping.

What you'll love: The ergonomic design of this ball pump makes it easy to hold. It has a push-pull air delivery system that inflates in both directions. The unit works best with volleyballs, soccer balls and basketballs. This ball pump comes with a three-year warranty for peace of mind.

What you should consider: It might take some practice to learn how to hold the ball while pumping, but once you figure it out, the process is easy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Morpilot ​​Electric Fast Ball Pump

What you need to know: If you like the convenience of filling up your sports balls without applying any effort, this electric pump is the model for you.

What you'll love: This compact air compressor features pressure detection, so it knows when to stop pumping up your balls. There are four one-button options: volleyball, basketball, football and soccer ball. The unit charges via a USB port and inflates up to 30 balls on a single charge. This ball pump has a built-in LED light.

What you should consider: While many people love this product, you may have to monitor the pump to be certain there is no over-inflation.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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