Indoor Vs Outdoor Basketball: Key Differences Explained

Whether you’re a professional or amateur player, learning about indoor vs outdoor basketball is essential. Knowing their differences will help you understand why you need a specific type for the outdoor courts and indoor courts you will play. 

Many brands, including notable ones like Spalding and Lifetime, need to make various types of balls to fit both kinds of games, providing players with the most comfortable feeling and great controllability while competing in sports. We’ll discuss the key features separating them in the next section below. Stay tuned! 

What’s The Difference Between Indoor Vs Outdoor Basketball?

Though sometimes you might use outdoor B-ball to play indoors, the two types are different and were born separately for a good reason.


The basketball materials used are the first and most visible difference between the two balls. Indoor ones are covered with full-grain genuine leather, giving a soft feeling and superior grip. The leather balls bounce well while dribbling on the hardwood surfaces of the courts.

On the other hand, outdoor ones are usually made of composite materials or rubber because outside surfaces are asphalt, requiring something durable that can withstand harshness. The strong cover may cause the balls to feel more uncomfortable in the palm.

The rubber or composite materials used for outdoor basketball


Both products are made to use for months even many years with proper usage and care. In general, rubber is more durable than composite material. 

Although indoor and outdoor basketball affects your handling and performance, it will not harm your ball. You can still continue your game in this case if needed. 

Meanwhile, your ball will suffer a lot in the opposite case since the rough courts will crack or split the leather.

The cover can be peeled off, and the ball can’t survive more than one hour, so you’d better not let your indoor balls touch any type of outside pavement. 

Read more: Spalding Vs Wilson Basketball

Performance and grip

Professional competitions or tournaments usually occur indoors. Thus, the balls to use are also made with corresponding criteria. There are around 35,000 small pebbles on its cover to ensure great gripping. The other purpose of the dots is to absorb moisture from players’ hands, delivering good handling. 

On the other hand, balls meant to use outside have big pebbles, and dirt is less likely to stick to them, but once the ball gets dirty or wet, it will be less grippy and affect the performance. 

Basketballs for outdoors have larger pebbles


Talking about flexibility, based on what we have discussed above, balls to use outside are more flexible. You can’t play the indoor ones on the streets as the genuine leather will be ruined, and the expensive pure leather always requires extra care.

However, it doesn’t mean you can still play outdoor basketball indoors. Though professional players can handle it well, it’s only a last resort. 

The designed structure of the balls makes them feel harder and less bouncy, creating difficulty in gripping and handling on the wood courts. So the results of the games will be affected negatively.

Price range

Their price range is quite different due to the cost of materials. Rubber is cheaper than leather, so outdoor basketballs are more affordable. It costs around $20-$50, making it an ideal choice, especially for beginners to play sports. 

On the contrary, basketballs to play inside the stadium are more expensive; you can expect the price of a high-quality one to be more than $100. 

That said, keep in mind that the more expensive, the better, and you should choose the one suitable for your budget and desired quality

Basketballs for indoors are often more expensive

Pros and cons

To sum up the differences between the two ball types in sports, here are their pros and cons:

  • Each should be played in their designed environment to get the best out of these basketballs for the basketball court. 
  • Balls for outdoors can’t ensure high performance and bouncing consistency when playing indoors.
  • Balls indoors can’t be used outside as they can’t stand the rough surfaces.
  • Indoor basketballs are usually more expensive than their counterparts.
  • A high-quality indoor ball requires quite a lot of investment. 

Right basketball size

There are criteria for choosing the right basketball size; age and genders are the most important. Below is the table of sizes for your reference.

Circumference rangeWeighSuitable ages and genders
Nerf basketballs9-20”1-5 ozToddlers from 0 to 4 years old
Size 116”8 ozboys and girls from 2 to 4 years old
Size 322”10 ozBoys and girls from 4 to 8 years old
Size 425.5”14 ozBoys and girls from 5 to 8 years old
Size 5 27.5”17 ozBoys and girls from 9 to 11 years old
Size 628.5”20 ozBoys from 12 to 14 years old
Girls over 12 years old and women
Size 7 29.5”22 ozBoys over 15 years old and men
Official size for professional games, high school, and college
You should consider age and gender before choosing basketball size

What Are Tips To Choose Indoor And Outdoor Basketball?

The first thing you should consider when choosing a basketball is the size. Selecting the size corresponding to your age will assist you in honing and practicing different techniques. 

Next, choose the proper material. You’d better not lose money on expensive leather products if you’re a beginner. You can go for that option (according to your need) when you’re at an intermediate or professional level.

Rubber basketballs are ideal for those who often play outside, thanks to their higher bouncing capability. Beginners also can consider this affordable option.

Synthetic leather is another common choice for players as it resembles the feeling of leather and provides similar grip and control. It’s more economical than leather and needs a shorter break-in period, yet the material can’t last long if exposed to rough surfaces and harsh conditions. 

As important as choosing the right basketball, selecting the right basketball hoop is crucial for a great playing experience. Comparing brands like Spalding and Lifetime can help you decide the best option. For instance, a Spalding vs Lifetime basketball hoop comparison might reveal differences in durability, design, and suitability for either indoor or outdoor use. Similarly, considering Lifetime vs Spalding basketball hoop, or evaluating a Lifetime basketball hoop vs Spalding, will provide insights into the quality and features of these well-known basketball hoop brands.

You can also consider 100% genuine leather balls. They are more expensive but offer rougher and harder textures. After the required long break-in period, the balls can obtain great controllability, but remember to use them when playing indoors only.   

Read more: Basketball Equipment List


The indoor vs outdoor basketball comparison should now be clear, and you can be confident in choosing the most suitable one for your needs (such as age, types of courts, leagues, etc.).

If you don’t plan to play indoors, forget the choice of leather balls. When you want to enjoy both courts, go for a composite outdoor ball (especially for beginners). It’s affordable, versatile, durable, and high-performance. 

In addition to the type of ball, the choice of equipment like basketball hoops is critical. Whether you opt for Lifetime basketball rims or those from other brands, the quality of your basketball gear plays a significant role in enhancing your game.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below to subscribe to our newsletter

  • Dalvir O'Connor

    Meet Dalvir O'Connor, CEO and founder of Sportssio, boasts 15 years of experience in sports knowledge and analysis, backed by his Master's degree in Sport Psychology....

Fatal error: Uncaught TypeError: blocksy_attr_to_html(): Argument #1 ($attr_array) must be of type array, string given, called in /www/wwwroot/ on line 139 and defined in /www/wwwroot/ Stack trace: #0 /www/wwwroot/ blocksy_attr_to_html() #1 /www/wwwroot/ blocksy_html_tag() #2 /www/wwwroot/ require('...') #3 /www/wwwroot/ blocksy_render_view() #4 /www/wwwroot/ require('...') #5 /www/wwwroot/ blocksy_render_view() #6 /www/wwwroot/ Blocksy\Blocks\DynamicData->render() #7 /www/wwwroot/ WP_Block->render() #8 /www/wwwroot/ WP_Block->render() #9 /www/wwwroot/ WP_Block->render() #10 /www/wwwroot/ WP_Block->render() #11 /www/wwwroot/ render_block() #12 /www/wwwroot/ do_blocks() #13 /www/wwwroot/ WP_Hook->apply_filters() #14 /www/wwwroot/ apply_filters() #15 /www/wwwroot/ WP_Widget_Block->widget() #16 /www/wwwroot/ WP_Widget->display_callback() #17 /www/wwwroot/ dynamic_sidebar() #18 /www/wwwroot/ Blocksy\Sidebar->get_widgets() #19 /www/wwwroot/ Blocksy\Sidebar->render() #20 /www/wwwroot/ require_once('...') #21 /www/wwwroot/ load_template() #22 /www/wwwroot/ locate_template() #23 /www/wwwroot/ get_sidebar() #24 /www/wwwroot/ require('...') #25 /www/wwwroot/ load_template() #26 /www/wwwroot/ locate_template() #27 /www/wwwroot/ get_template_part() #28 /www/wwwroot/ include('...') #29 /www/wwwroot/ require_once('...') #30 /www/wwwroot/ require('...') #31 {main} thrown in /www/wwwroot/ on line 164