What is the Official Size of an NBA Basketball?

nba official basketball size

Anyone has played basketball has likely played with different sized basketballs. But there is indeed an official NBA  regulation sized basketball. Additionally, there are women basketballs and international basketballs as well. In this blog post we will discuss the official size of an NBA basketball as well as other basketball sizes and types that are most popular.

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The first you notice as you take the first glance at the basketball choices out there is that there are rubber basketballs, leather basketballs, and composite basketballs. Most of them are very noticeable with monochrome or two-toned colors to choose from. All of them are branded in ways that make them instantly recognizable.

What size basketball does the NBA use?

The NBA uses a size 7 basketball for all games. This size is known as the “official” size and is used for both men’s and women’s professional basketball leagues. The ball measures approximately 29.5 inches in circumference and weighs about 22 ounces. It is made of leather or synthetic material and has a pressure of 7.5-8.5 pounds per square inch. The size and weight of the ball are designed to allow players to handle it comfortably and to facilitate the flow of the game.

What is the diameter of an official NBA basketball?

The diameter of an NBA basketball is approximately 9.43 inches. To calculate this, divide the circumference (29.5 inches) by pi (3.14).

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So, to answer the question you’re wondering: How big is an NBA basketball? The answer is: 29.5 inches.

What is the circumference of an NBA basketball?

The circumference of a regulation NBA basketball is approximately 29.5 inches (74.93 cm). This size and weight has been standardized by the NBA, and it is the same for all teams and players in the league. The circumference of a basketball is an important factor in the game, as it affects how the ball is handled and shot. A ball that is too small or too large would be difficult to handle and could lead to a disadvantage for players and teams.

Additionally, the circumference of a basketball is also crucial for determining the ball’s air pressure. The air pressure is regulated by the NBA to ensure a consistent and fair playing experience for all players. Too much air pressure can make the ball feel too hard and bouncy, while too little air pressure can make it feel too soft and slow.
The Technical Aspects of Official NBA Basketball Sizes
Now here come the questions. In addition to the type of basketballs used by NBA players use, we have many other leagues with different types of basketballs:
  • The standard basketball used on most NBA games measures 29.5 inches in circumference, also known as a size #7. This is also the same size that is used by NCAA College and HS basketball leagues for male players. The WNBA uses a slightly smaller ball, measuring 28.5 inches in circumference, also known as #6.
  • International leagues such as FIBA, use a Molten GL7 basketball for men and the Molten GL6 for women. These two basketballs feature different colors schemes and are bigger than the NBA standard by measuring 30.7-inch of a circumference. They are also regarded as a standard issue in many countries outside the USA.
  • Kids in middle school aged as old as 14 are recommended use a size #6, as do women and girls aged 12 and up. For kids whose age goes below that, either male or female, the recommended size is a #5 measuring 27.5 inches in circumference, since this one is of pretty common use in all young basketball leagues.
  • Smaller kids age 4 to 8 really need to take a few sizes down to make the most out their limited strength. The best recommendation for them is a size #4 with measuring 25.5 inches in circumference. The growth factor also plays a substantial role here since the kids in question need to hold the ball on their hands and their hand size can be a determining factor.

It’s important to know about other factors that play some incidence in your gameplay as professionals do. Wondering what the official weight of an NBA basketball is is the right way to begin. So far the official information available places a Size 7 weight at 20 or 22 ounces. Size 6 weighs 18 to 20 ounces. Size 5 should not go over 17 ounces. Size four is set at 14 ounces, and the mini Size 3 should never weight more than 10 ounces.

25 Interesting facts related to the official NBA basketball size:

  1. The official size of an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumference.
  2. The ball weighs 22 ounces.
  3. These specifications are standardized by the NBA.
  4. All official NBA games and events must use a official NBA basketball that meets these size and weight requirements.
  5. The ball is made of leather or synthetic leather.
  6. The circumference of an NBA basketball size is slightly larger than that of a college basketball, which is 29 inches.
  7. The size of an official NBA basketball has been standardized since the 1950s.
  8. The ball is designed to be gripped easily by players and to fit comfortably in their hands.
  9. The size and weight of the ball affects its bounce and handling.
  10. The ball must be inflated to a pressure of 7.5 to 8.5 pounds per square inch in order to meet the official specifications.
  11. The size and weight of an NBA basketball have remained unchanged for many years, ensuring consistency in the game.
  12. The ball is made with a rubber bladder that is filled with air, giving it its bounce and shape.
  13. The circumference of an NBA basketball is slightly smaller than that of a women’s basketball, which is typically 30 inches.
  14. The size of the ball is measured by wrapping a tape measure around its widest point.
  15. The size and weight of the ball can impact the speed and trajectory of shots, making it important for players to be familiar with the official specifications.
  16. The size and weight of the ball are regulated by the NBA to ensure a consistent playing experience for players and fans.
  17. The ball is used for all official games and events, including the regular season, playoffs, and All-Star Game.
  18. The ball is also used for international competitions, such as the Olympic Games and the FIBA World Cup.
  19. The size and weight of the official NBA ball can have a significant impact on the game, affecting the speed and trajectory of shots, as well as the ease with which players can handle and control the ball.
  20. The NBA game ball is designed to be durable and long-lasting, withstanding the rigors of the game and providing a consistent playing experience over the course of the season.

Additional Tidbits to Pick the Right Basketball Size

The pressure of inflation of the ball also plays a big role in your performance. Is good to ask how many PSI is a NBA basketball?

So far the official information states that a NBA basketball should always be inflated to a maximum pressure of 7.5 to 8.5 PSI. The WNBA follows the same rules. The NCAA inflation requirements are handled differently since they are by given weight. Their current parameters place a men’s ball at 22 ounces, while the women’s ball should weight no more than 20 ounces.

FIBA play rules state the ball should be inflated to a minimum air pressure that allows the ball to be bounced to the playing floor from a height of 180 cm from the bottom of the ball, with a rebound height that should go well over 120 cm and 140 cm, measured from the top of the ball. Read about FIBA basketball size vs NBA size.

Which NBA players have complained about the size and or feel of NBA basketballs?

There have been several NBA players who have complained about the size and feel of the basketball used in the league.

  1. One example is Shaquille O’Neal, who has stated that he preferred a smaller ball because it was easier for him to grip and shoot.
  2. Another example is LeBron James, who has mentioned that the ball becomes slick and difficult to grip in certain weather conditions.
  3. In 2006, Kobe Bryant publicly criticized the official NBA ball, claiming that it was too slick and difficult to grip. He went on to say that this was affecting the accuracy of his shots and making it more difficult for players to perform at their best. In response to Bryant’s comments, the NBA made changes to the ball, including adjusting the texture and materials used to make it easier to grip.
  4. Steve Nash and Jason Kidd both complained that the new NBA basketballs caused cuts on their fingers because of the friction. And when the ball was wet, players said it got extremely slippery. (Source).

There have also been some players who have expressed a preference for the old leather balls over the newer synthetic balls, citing differences in feel and grip.

The Sizes of Official NBA Basketballs

All basketballs, regardless of size and materials are available in at least five different sizes: from #3 to #7, so you can choose the right one to build your game. The first thing you notice is that differences between all these balls are a couple of centimeters at best. It really shouldn’t matter at all which one you pick, but it certainly does. That’s why every league of basketball in the USA uses one differently on the playground.

Let’s take a moment to put things in perspective. If you are playing for the sake of enjoying the game, there’s nothing wrong with using any size of a ball with your pals. If you plan to play basketball more seriously, you will want the ball that is best suited to you. It might not look like it but basketball is a sport that requires precision, and even the smallest margin can make a difference in your game.

As you practice with a ball that is not fitted to you, you start to notice your own maneuverability to handle basketballs as you do more dribbles and passes. Even a free throw or a dunk can be quite tricky to handle if you are playing something that weights more than you can control. It also works the other way: a small ball won’t allow you to use your own strength appropriately and you will miss one too many shots as a result.

The Best Official Basketball Material to Choose From

It all depends on the conditions of your game. If you are playing indoor basketballs, you need full-grain leather basketballs. If you are playing outside, you need a rubber. The leather feels soft to the touch, and continuous use breaks them and makes it easy to grip. They are the choice for indoor please mainly because they can get easily damaged by outdoor conditions such as heat and contact with concrete. Rubber basketballs can absorb the punishment of rough surfaces such as asphalt without losing their grip. Rubber balls are also the best choice for beginners because they can be controlled easily.

Can an official NBA basketball be used for an outdoor hoop?

An NBA basketball can be used in an outdoor hoop, but it may not perform as well as a ball specifically designed for outdoor use. The main difference between an indoor and outdoor basketball is the material and construction of the ball. Indoor balls are typically made of leather or synthetic materials and are designed to be used on a smooth, hard surface, while outdoor balls are made of rubber or composite materials and are designed to withstand rough outdoor surfaces.

Has an NBA game ever used a non-NBA basketball during a game?

As far as we are aware, there has not been an NBA game in which a non-NBA basketball was used. The NBA has strict rules and regulations regarding the size and specifications of the ball that is used in games, and all teams are required to use the official NBA ball.

The official NBA ball is a size 7 and is made of leather or synthetic materials. It is designed to meet specific criteria in terms of size, weight, and pressure, and it is tested and approved by the league before it is used in games. The ball is used for all NBA games, including regular season, playoffs, and championship games.

It is possible that a non-NBA basketball may be used in pre-game warm-ups or practice sessions, but it would not be used in an actual game. The use of a non-approved ball in an NBA game would violate league rules and could result in penalties or fines.

Have there been any studies on the impact of ball size on player performance?

Yes, there have actually been a few studies that have examined the impact of ball size on NBA player performance:

• A 2019 study published in PLOS ONE found that players had significantly higher shooting percentages and lower turnover rates when using FIBA-size balls (28.5 inches) compared to NBA-size balls (29.5 inches). The researchers suggested that the smaller ball allowed for better ball control and passing accuracy.

• A 2017 study published in Sports examined field goal percentages, 3-point field goal percentages and free throw percentages for 37 NBA players during a camp using both FIBA and NBA size balls. The results showed small but statistically significant improvements in all three shooting percentages with the smaller FIBA ball.

• Another 2010 study in the Journal of Sports Sciences looked at the key physical characteristics of NBA and FIBA balls and how they impact players. The researchers found that the smaller FIBA balls have lower moments of inertia, meaning they are easier to accelerate and pass accurately. This could benefit player performance.

• While the effects found in these studies tend to be relatively small, they do suggest that NBA players as a group could see a modest boost in shooting efficiency, passing and ball control from switching to a FIBA-size ball. However, more research is needed to substantiate these findings.

So in summary, the existing research provides some empirical evidence that NBA players may shoot, pass and handle a FIBA-size ball more efficiently than an NBA-size ball. However, more robust and comprehensive studies would be helpful to determine the true magnitude of these effects on player performance. The NBA has thus far been hesitant to make any changes to its official ball size.

Will the NBA will ever switch to from its official NBA basketball size to a different FIBA-size ball?

There are arguments on both sides regarding whether the NBA will eventually switch to a FIBA-size ball:

Arguments for the NBA switching from its official NBA basketball size to a FIBA ball:

• The research suggesting NBA players may perform slightly better with a smaller ball, as we discussed. Even small improvements could add up over the course of a game or season.

• The desire from some players to try a smaller ball to create more spacing, passing angles and shooting opportunities. This sentiment has been growing in recent years.

• The need for consistency when NBA players represent their countries in FIBA tournaments using a smaller ball. Some have argued this switch could help with the transition.

• The potential to make the NBA game slightly “faster” and higher scoring by going to a smaller ball, which some fans and teams may find appealing.

Arguments against the NBA switching from its official NBA basketball size to FIBA:

• The NBA has used its current official NBA basketball ball size for decades, so there is reluctance and resistance to change what’s worked for so long.

• Concerns that a smaller ball may be harder for NBA big men to handle and control given their size. A FIBA-size ball would represent a more significant size decrease for centers.

• Risk of negatively impacting the NBA’s brand identity and “product” by altering one of its longstanding conventions like the official ball size. The league tends to be cautious of potentially disruptive changes.

• Interruptions to the supply chain and manufacturing of NBA basketballs if the size changed. It would represent a significant shift for all involved.

So in summary, while there are reasonable arguments on both sides of this issue, I think the NBA will likely maintain its current ball size for the foreseeable future. The league has been hesitant to change what isn’t “broken” and a FIBA ball switch may introduce more complications than benefits in their view. But I could see them testing the idea down the road if the push from players continues to grow stronger over time.

Why is the NBA ball size how it is?

There are a few reasons why the NBA basketball is the size it is:

  1. To accommodate the size and skill of NBA players – NBA players are on average taller, heavier and more skilled than other leagues. A larger ball helps match their physical attributes and abilities.
  2. Tradition – The NBA has used a 29.5 inch ball for decades, so there is a sense of tradition around that specific size. The league is generally hesitant to change things that have been in place for a long time.
  3. Familiarity – Players, coaches, referees and fans are all accustomed to the current NBA ball size. Making a change could introduce unfamiliarity and take time to adjust. The league prefers consistency.
  4. Performance – Some argue the larger ball allows for optimal handles, passing and shooting performance given the strength and size of NBA players. While studies show mixed results, the league believes the current size works best.
  5. Practicality – A 29.5 inch ball is more practical for the biggest players in terms of grip, control and comfort. A smaller ball could be more difficult for centers and power forwards to handle effectively.
  6. Identity – The NBA ball size is part of the league’s distinct brand and DNA. Changing it could alter the “product” in a way that goes against the league’s overall identity. The NBA tends to be cautious of disruptive changes.

So in summary, factors like tradition, familiarity, performance practicality, and identity have all contributed to the NBA maintaining its specific basketball size for so long. While a smaller ball may offer some benefits, the league believes consistency and pragmatism are more important given the physical nature of NBA basketball.

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