Updated March 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
Wilson NCAA Jet Pro
NCAA Jet Pro
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Professional Feel
Bottom Line

A great pick for those looking for a ball that will help them progress.


Has a consistent bounce. Available in multiple sizes. Rubber channels run deeper than other products allowing for superior grip. The ball will stay filled after long play sessions. Easy to hold.


Some users have reported that long term durability is an issue.

Best Bang for the Buck
Spalding Rookie Gear Youth Basketball
Rookie Gear Youth Basketball
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Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

A lightweight design that is perfect for young kids.


Gives younger kids the ability to learn the fundamentals. Designed for kids ages 8 and under. Helps kids learn to shoot and rebound more easily. The ball is easy to grip. Lightweight feel.


The lightweight design of this ball can make dribbling more challenging.

Wilson NBA Outdoor Series
NBA Outdoor Series
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Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

A great ball that is built to last regardless of the surface.


Has a great cover that allows for maximum grip. Has an inflation retention lining that helps maintain air regardless of temperature. Comes in many different unique designs.


The channels could be a little bit deeper.

Champion Sports Heavy Duty Nylon Basketball
Champion Sports
Heavy Duty Nylon Basketball
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Budget Friendly
Bottom Line

A solid basketball that is designed for kids to use anywhere.


Has a 2-ply bladder that allows for air retention after hours of play. Can be used outside or inside. Does not pick up dirt or other debris. Comes in a large variety of sizes and colors. Great for schools.


Does not come pre-inflated so you will have to purchase a pump to play.

Spalding Varsity Outdoor Basketball
Varsity Outdoor Basketball
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

A well-designed basketball that is perfect for outdoor play.


Has deep channels that make it easy to hold even for smaller hands. Has a durable cover that provides good bounce on rough surfaces. Comes inflated and ready to play with. Does hold dirt and grime.


Inflation doesn't hold over long periods of time.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best youth basketballs

Whether they’re bouncing the ball in the driveway or playing in a youth league, basketball is a big part of growing up for a lot of kids. It’s a simple game to learn to play but a fun challenge to perfect, which is ideal for kids. Plus, it’s a great way to burn off some youthful energy.

Parents like basketball because it has fewer collisions than sports like football. And basketball is an inexpensive game requiring very little equipment, which parents also like. All you need is a hoop and a good ball.

When it comes to basketball, finding the right ball to suit small hands is key to keeping kids interested and improving playing form. Youth basketballs are available in multiple sizes, colors, and construction materials. You’ll find our five favorites in the matrix above and everything you need to know before you buy in our shopping guide.

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Youth basketballs are smaller than standard-size balls, which measure 29.5 inches in circumference.

Key considerations

The material used in the construction of the basketball plays an important role in its durability. It also plays a role in where you can use the ball.

Indoor youth basketballs

Indoor basketballs are genuine leather, which is the highest-quality material found in basketballs. A leather ball provides a comfortable texture for players, allowing them to control their dribble and shoot accurately. The feel and bounce of a leather ball is true and consistent. They’re always used for high school, college, and pro league games.

Because the floor of an indoor basketball court is smooth and free of debris, an indoor ball doesn’t have to stand up to rough conditions. This type of leather ball will become scuffed or gouged if used on an asphalt or concrete surface.

Indoor/outdoor youth basketballs

For the typical young basketball player, an indoor/outdoor ball is the perfect choice. It works equally well on a regulation wood court or on a neighborhood concrete court.

An indoor/outdoor basketball is a tough composite leather material. This synthetic leather doesn’t cost as much as genuine leather and is much more durable. It doesn’t quite have the feel of a leather game ball, but it’s a good alternative for young players.

Outdoor youth basketballs

The most durable type of basketball is made for outdoor use on concrete or asphalt courts. This type of ball is rubber, meaning you can use it over and over on rough surfaces without causing damage.

You can use an outdoor basketball on an indoor court. However, a rubber ball has a greater level of bounce than a leather or synthetic leather ball, which may affect gameplay.

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Did you know?
Standard basketballs have a solid orange or brown color. Youth balls are available in many different colors, both solid and multicolored.



When buying a youth basketball, parents should pay attention to the size of the ball. The ball’s circumference is measured in inches. Smaller basketballs are better for younger players. They can grip a lighter and smaller ball better with their small hands. Multiple sizes of basketballs are considered appropriate for children to use.

  • Size 2: A size 2 ball is called a micro mini ball. It has a circumference of 16 inches and a diameter of 5.1 inches.
  • Size 3: A size 3 ball is a novelty ball that is used for recreational play rather than league play. It measures 22 inches in circumference and 7 inches in diameter. It’s often called a mini ball.
  • Size 4: Some youth leagues will use a size 4 ball, mainly for boys and girls age five to eight. A size 4 ball has a circumference of 25.5 inches and a diameter of 8.1 inches.
  • Size 5: A size 5 ball measures 27.5 inches in circumference and about 8.75 inches in diameter. This ball is best for boys and girls up to age 11.
  • Size 6: A size 6 ball is 28.5 inches in circumference and about 9 inches in diameter. It’s made for youth boys age nine to 14 and girls and women age 9 and older. A size 6 ball is used in all high school, college, and professional women’s games.

A size 7 ball is considered a regulation-size ball. High school, college, and professional men’s players use a size 7 basketball.


No matter what size basketball you use, it will have a texture that is easy to grip. The surface of the ball consists of tiny bumps called pebbles. These provide a high level of friction between the ball and the player’s skin, making it easier to control.

Having a ball with good friction simplifies spinning the ball when shooting or passing. For a child who’s just learning to play, being able to spin the ball helps with maintaining the right shooting and dribbling form.

"To inflate a basketball, simply insert the inflation needle in the tiny hole and add air as needed. "

Youth basketball prices

Youth basketballs vary quite a bit in price, depending on the quality of the material and the size of the ball.

The least expensive basketballs for kids cost $5 to $15. These are often size 4 basketballs and novelty basketballs, although some size 5 balls fit in this price range. Inexpensive basketballs may be foam or rubber.

Mid-range children’s basketballs cost between $15 and $40. These basketballs are typically size 5 or size 6 balls. These balls are often composite leather, meaning they’re made for indoor or outdoor play. You’ll find high-level rubber balls at the lower end of this price range. Occasionally, you’ll find an indoor leather ball at the upper end of this range.

The most expensive youth basketballs cost between $40 and $100. These are size 5 or size 6 basketballs. They’re often made of leather and designed for indoor use only. You’ll find a few brands of synthetic leather balls at the lower end of this price range, too.


  • Pay attention to the panels. Some youth basketballs have non-standard panel designs. A typical basketball has eight panels, all of the same size. Some manufacturers use odd shapes in the panels for kids’ basketballs. These panels look cool, but they can affect the player’s grip on the ball.
  • Adjust the height of the rim. For a youth player, regulation-size basketballs are too heavy and large to use proper shooting form. To help even further with developing the right form, lower the height of the basketball rim. Younger players don’t have the strength to properly launch the ball to a standard 10-foot rim, even a youth-size ball.
  • Don’t over-inflate the ball. If you inflate a basketball too much, it could become misshapen. An over-inflated ball may also develop weak spots, which could lead to punctures. Always keep the ball inflated to its suggested PSI range.
  • Carefully insert the inflation needle. To avoid causing damage to the bladder inside the basketball, always insert the needle slowly. If you insert the needle too quickly, you could puncture the bladder or damage the insertion tube. It’s probably best if parents inflate the ball to avoid damage.
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Most basketballs will have the recommended inflation pressure for the ball printed near the needle hole.


Q. How often should I inflate a youth basketball?
It depends on how often your kids use the basketball. Each time a ball is dribbled or strikes a hard surface, it will lose a tiny amount of air. Older basketballs tend to lose air faster than newer balls. A ball that’s used daily probably should be checked for proper inflation once or twice a week.

Q. Do I need to store basketballs indoors?
To give your basketball the longest lifespan, it’s best to store it at a consistent temperature indoors. If the ball will be stored in an area where the temperature will not be controlled, like a garage, avoid placing the ball in direct sunlight. If the ball will be outdoors, try to store it in a dry location.

Q. Should I clean a basketball regularly?
If your kids play with the ball outdoors, it may get dirty or wet. After playing, you can wipe the ball with a damp cloth to remove dirt or other particles. For more stubborn soiling, you can use mild soap and warm water on the surface of the ball. If the ball becomes wet, allow it to air dry before using it again.

Q. What’s the best ball for a youth player who’s just starting the game?
Picking a versatile basketball is best for those new to the game. An indoor/outdoor ball that’s rubber or synthetic leather allows your child to use the ball anywhere. Select a ball that’s the right size for the child’s age. Using a ball that’s too large could lead to improper shooting form. Finally, if the child’s interest in the game will be sparked by a wildly colored ball, go for it!

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