If you are a big fan of basketball and love playing the game, it is a good idea to be knowledgeable about the different types of basketballs, their weight and sizes, as well as the different court surfaces.

For official games, whether it is in the professional leagues or in elementary school, the size of a regulation basketball is usually ½ the size of the hoop’s diameter.  Professional and amateur leagues, such as the NBA, WNBA, FIBA, and NCAA, usually maintain their own regulation sizes and weight.  This is the reason why we often see different sizes of basketballs despite being called regulation size.

Three Types of Basketballs:

  1. Leather – these basketballs are made from 100% genuine leather cover.  When a leather ball is new, it may feel somewhat hard to feel, but with a bit of wear, it becomes soft having an appealing broken-in feel.  Leather basketballs are strictly for indoor hardwood court only because the feel of the leather will roughen when used on concrete surfaces.  Leather basketballs are also the most expensive of the three types of basketballs.
  2. Composite / Synthetic Leather – these basketballs are covered with artificial or synthetic leather material that has the feel of leather, as it has been designed that way, but much cheaper to produce and manufacture.  Since it is synthetic, the material has a uniform feel which is why it does not need to be broken-in as it already has that soft feel even when new.
  3. Rubber – these basketballs are lined with rubber covering and are ideal for concrete surfaces.  Rubber basketballs are perfect for beginners, especially since they are the cheapest to produce.

Basketballs have grooves on them sometimes referred to as channeling.  Some are wide and some are narrow.  Channels not only provide basketball players better grip, but they can also be used for better fingertip control, particularly when applying backspins.

Regulation Weight and Sizes

The balls used in competition vary slightly among professional and collegiate leagues.  Each league has its own specifications as to what size, weight, and material the ball should have to make it a regulation ball.

NBA – the National Basketball Association’s official basketball is made by Spalding and is made of full-grain leather.  The ball has an orange color with black seams and lettering.  It measures 29.5 inches in circumference, weighs 22 ounces, and is inflated between 7.5 to 8.5 PSI.  The NBAs basketball is considered to be a size 7.

WNBA – the Women’s National Basketball Association’s official basketball is also made by Spalding, but it is made of two interlocking microfiber panel giving it an alternating orange and white color.  The ball has a maximum circumference of 29 inches and weighs from 18 to 20 ounces.  The WNBAs basketball is considered to be a size 6.

FIBA – the Fédération Internationale de Basketbal or International Basketball Federation as we know it uses Molten GL7 for Men’s Basketball and Molten GL6 for Women’s Basketball.  The balls have a 2-tone color with 12 composite leather panels each.  The GL7 has a maximum circumference of 30.7 inches while the GL6 has a maximum circumference of 29 inches.

NCAA – the National College Athletic Association’s official basketball is the Wilson Solution and is used by both men and women’s basketball.  The Wilson Solution is used exclusively during the tournament.   The ball’s exterior is made from composite leather.  The men use a size 7 basketball while the women use a size basketball.

The regulation leather and composite leather balls used in the leagues or competition mentioned above should not be used for outdoor games, particularly on rough concrete or asphalt surfaces.  The roughness of the surface will quickly and easily wear down the texture of the ball making them lose their grip.  For outdoor basketball games, rubber balls should be used as the material is designed to withstand the sandpaper like surface of a concrete floor.

Types of Basketball Court Surfaces

Most professional and collegiate basketball games are done on hardwood basketball courts.  This not only has a smooth surface, but it also provides a consistent bounce.  The hardwood court is what you can say as the prime type of basketball court surface.  However, not every basketball court shares the same type of playing surfaces.  The surface of a basketball court depends mostly on its location (indoor or outdoor) and, of course, budget.

Hardwood Court

The hardwood court is the most popular type of surface for indoor basketball.  All professional and collegiate leagues use hardwood court for their basketball games.  The floor is usually made of hard maple which is a dense wood with fine fibers which makes it resistant to splintering.  The tightly packed grains of the wood also results in a smooth surface which leaves no room for dirt and grime to hide.  This gives it particularly exceptional durability while requiring very little maintenance.  Hardwood courts are not suitable for the outdoors as the rain and sun can damage or warp the surface of the wood.

Concrete Court

These are the popular types of surfaces for outdoor basketball courts.  In fact, nearly all who play basketball starts playing on concrete or asphalt court.  Community parks use these materials for their basketball courts due to their strength and durability as well as the ability to withstand harsh weather conditions.

Multi-Purpose Court

There are some manufacturers who produce multi-purpose plastic floorings for basketball courts.  The construction of the court starts with a flat polished concrete to give is a sturdy foundation.  The plastic modular square flooring is then added to the top surface which easily snaps together giving it its shape and design.  The good thing about plastic flooring is that it provides excellent traction while providing a consistent bounce.

One advantage to using this type of surface as opposed to purely concrete is that its smooth surface enhances safety as there are minimal skin abrasions during falls.  Plastic modular square floorings are even able to handle sports such as volleyball, street hockey, and futsal.  Due to their modular designs, you can even order panels in the color of your team or perhaps in a multitude of color for that stylistic approach.  For a more professional approach, you can apply a polyurethane finish on top of the plastic flooring.  This not only enhance is durability, but it also makes it more resistant to moisture.  The best part about these multi-purpose panels is that they can even be installed on outdoor courts because they are strong enough to be able to withstand the elements.

One essential part of a basketball court would be the Backboard System, find out which one fits your needs the most!

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