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The 7 Best Indoor Basketballs: Ultimate Guide (2023)

TL;DR
My picks for the best indoor basketballs are:

This week, I take a look at the best indoor basketballs available on the market.

All hoopers know nothing beats playing on a nice indoor court:

The squeak of your shoes on hardwood floors; the consistent bounce of the ball; the forgiving rims; and the full sized backboards (bank shot!).

The icing on the cake is playing with a proper indoor ball that feels great on your hands as you dribble, or release a jumper.

Below is my list of the top indoor basketballs currently available on the market. There’s the expected Wilson and Spalding choices, as well as a couple other you may have not considered. I also recommend how to choose the best ball for yourself, and more.

Let’s get started!

The 7 Best Indoor Basketballs

First, here is a quick table of all my top picks. All of these basketballs specifically state that they are for indoor use only (i.e. not indoor/outdoor combo). Scroll down further for more detailed descriptions of each:

Best Indoor Basketball Comparison Table

ImageNamePricePurchase
Wilson Evolution$70 Amazon
Wilson NBA Official$200 Amazon
The Rock $55 Amazon
Spalding Legacy TF-1000$75 Amazon
Molten BG5000$110 Amazon
Baden Perfection Elite$75 Amazon
Nike Elite Championship$90 Amazon

Wilson Evolution Game Basketball

My favorite

Wilson Evolution Game Ball

  • Ultra soft feeling
  • Excellent grip
  • NFHS approved
  • Price (at time of publish): $70

We start this list off with the most popular indoor basketball in the entire USA: the Wilson Evolution.

If you’ve ever played high school ball, then you probably recognize it, as it’s officially approved by the NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) for game use.

(Wilson also just happens to be the official ball of the NBA, G League, WNBA, and NCAA. Talk about monopoly!)

The Evolution is made with a micro-fiber composite leather cover and Wilson’s patented “cushion-core”. The combination of these make the ball super soft feeling, and comfortable to handle. It won’t bounce all over the place, or recklessly off rims like those cheap rubber balls (that means more buckets for you).

The composite leather material is also quite durable and offers outstanding grip.

One interesting feature of this Wilson is that the seams of the ball are pebbled, instead of smooth:

Wilson Evolution’s pebbled seams and grip closeup

This gives you more consistent feel, and better grip no matter where you hands are on the ball.

Overall, the Wilson Evolution is easily one of the best indoor basketballs on the market. It is available in the three main official sizes (5, 6, 7), and also comes in a few different colorways (just the text).

It has a retail price of $80 (only $70 on Amazon at time of publish ). This may seem expensive, but it’s actually good value for such a high quality indoor ball.

A slightly more premium ball from Wilson is the Wilson NCAA Evo NXT — official ball of NCAA tournament. It is almost exactly the same (actually even softer feeling), but costs $20 more.

Pros

  • Super soft feeling
  • Textured channels for better grip
  • Durable composite leather cover
  • Available in multiple sizes (5,6,7)

Cons

  • Not much

Wilson NBA Official Game Basketball

Best leather basketball

Wilson NBA Official

  • Official NBA game basketball
  • 100% Genuine leather
  • Highest quality construction
  • Price (at time of publish): $200

Of course, this list could not be complete without the official game ball of the NBA!

Wilson replaced Spalding as the official basketball back in the 2021-2022 season. It uses the same classic 8-panel structure and leather as the old ball. The new ball was actually tested and approved by the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) before being used.

The NBA ball uses 100% genuine leather as its cover material from a company called Horween Leather. This is different from high school or college basketballs, which typically use a composite leather.

Since it is actual leather, the ball will feel hard and slippery when it is brand new. You need to break it in by doing dribbling and shooting drills. After awhile, the ball will begin to feel softer and grippier. The color will also change to a darker shade. Check out this guide from Wilson on how to break in your NBA ball.

The NBA actually breaks the ball in for 2 weeks before using it in games. It might take even longer for you.

The seams/channels of the ball use a classic flat style design, preferred by NBA players:

NBA Pro Seams

Everything about the ball is top quality. It has excellent, consistent bounce, and the best air retention of any indoor basketball.

There’s not much more to say other than — this is the actual ball used in NBA games!

If it’s good enough for LeBron, and Steph Curry, then it should definitely be good enough for you! 😬

The NBA Official basketball is super expensive, retailing for $200. It is only available in one size (29.5″).

Pros

  • Official game ball of the NBA
  • 100% genuine leather
  • Best bounce and air retention

Cons

  • EXPENSIVE ($200)
  • Requires breaking in

Or, order from Wilson

The Rock

Best Value

The Rock Indoor Basketball

  • Best price
  • Excellent grip
  • Super durable
  • Price (at time of publish): $55

“Pass the rock!”

This saying takes on a literal meaning when you have this basketball. It is sold by a small NY-based company called Anaconda Sports (they don’t even have a working website).

The Rock has developed a cult following over the years (mainly in NY / East Coast) for being a top quality indoor basketball at a reasonable price.

It was the official basketball of Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC), and endorsed by big time college names like Dick Vitale, and Jay Wright.

It uses a composite cover material, which offers superb grip, and is ultra durable. It is also super soft feeling on your hands thanks to extra cushioning. It is comparable to the Wilson Evolution.

The seams/channels are also similar to the Evolution in that they are full pebbled/textured. This gives the ball consistent feel and grip all the way around.

Maybe the only downside of the ball is that it is difficult to find in stores. You probably will need to order it online (and hope it’s still in stock).

The best part about this ball is that it’s only $55! This is the cheapest ball on my list, and the best indoor basketball for the money.

Pros

  • Excellent grip
  • Soft feel
  • Cheap price
  • NFHS approved

Cons

  • Difficult to find in stores

Spalding Legacy TF-1000 Indoor Game Basketball

Spalding Legacy TF-1000

  • NFHS approved
  • Deep seams/channels
  • Moisture wicking cover
  • Price (at time of publish): $75

Spalding is no longer the official ball of the NBA, but they still make some great basketballs.

The TF-1000 series is their most famous line of indoor basketballs. When I was in high school (many years ago), it was definitely the ball to have.

The Legacy TF-1000 is the updated version of the classic TF-1000 that I used to play with. It is NFHS approved, and the official high school basketball of many states in the US. Some colleges also use the ball.

The new version has deeper channels/seams for better grip and control. It’s also a lighter /brighter orange than the old version. It features the classic 8-panel and pebble texture of Spalding basketballs:

The cover is made out of moisture-wicking composite leather material. It helps keep the ball grippy even when a bit wet.

The ball feels a bit harder than the Wilson Evolution or Evo NXT. If you don’t like the softness of Wilson, then you should consider the Spalding TF-1000.

Overall, the Spalding Legacy TF-1000 is still one of the best indoor basketballs on the market. I prefer the old version (nostalgic reasons), but can’t really complain about this one.

It retails for around $80. It’s expensive, so if you want to save some money, there is a slightly lower-end version called the Spalding Precision TF-1000.

Pros

  • Excellent grip
  • Moisture wicking cover
  • Deep channels
  • NFHS approved

Cons

  • Harder feel

Molten BG5000 (Official FIBA Game Basketball)

Molten BG5000

  • Official FIBA game ball
  • Genuine leather cover
  • Extra soft feeling (once broken in)
  • Price (at time of publish): $110

Molten is the official basketball of FIBA. If you watched the Olympics, or any international competition, you will definitely recognize the unique two-tone design.

The ball cover is made with genuine leather (similar to the NBA basketball). This means the ball will feel slick and hard at first. You will need some time to break it in before you get that nice soft feeling and grip you expect from a high end indoor basketball.

To further improve the softness and control of the ball, Molten has increased the foam concentration under the cover by 35% (compared to the last FIBA ball).

One interesting thing to note about Molten’s indoor basketballs is the texture of the surface:

Molten basketball uses natural leather texture

This natural leather texture is in stark contrast to the more common pebble style texture of Wilson or Spalding basketballs. It was designed to give the ball better grip even when wet. It may take some time to get used to though.

Another difference is that the ball uses 12-panel construction, instead of the typical 8-panel found on most basketballs:

Molten 12-panel construction

Overall, the Molten BG5000 is a top quality indoor basketball. If you’re a fan of FIBA leagues, or looking to play overseas, then you should definitely consider this ball.

It currently retails for around $130 (on Amazon). Expensive, but still much cheaper than the NBA ball. For a cheaper composite leather version, check out the Molten BG45000.

Pros

  • Genuine leather cover material
  • Super soft feel
  • Excellent grip
  • Official game ball of FIBA

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May take time to adjust to different texture and panel design

Baden Perfection Elite Game Basketball

Baden Elite

  • Good value
  • Soft feel
  • Moisture wicking material
  • Price (at time of publish): $75

Baden is another small company you may have never heard of. They have been around since 1979, and are based on the West Coast of the US — near Seattle, Washington (go Supersonics!). They were actually the first company to produce a women’s basketball, and are the official ball sponsor of the Harlem Globetrotters!

The Baden Elite is their premiere indoor basketball. It is NFHS approved, and the official high school game ball of multiple US states.

The ball uses a microfiber composite leather cover that offers great grip and a soft feel for better control. The material wicks moisture so it doesn’t get slippery even after those big sweaty guys touch the ball.

One cool feature is the recessed air valve:

Baden “Stealth Valve”

The “Stealth Valve” — as they call it — is designed to be undetectable when playing, so it won’t mess up your shot if your fingers go on the valve by chance.

Another interesting design feature to point out is the panel design:

As you can see, the Baden uses a symmetrical panel layout which is evenly spaced out, compared to the more common design of the Wilson ball. Baden states that this gives the ball a more consistent feel, and bounce. Though, it may feel a bit weird the first time you use it.

The Baden Elite retails for $75, and is available in size 7 (men’s) or 6 (women’s). Overall, it is a great feeling basketball. If you don’t mind the different panel design, then give it a shot!

Pros

  • Soft, moisture wicking cover material
  • Recessed air valve
  • NFHS approved
  • Size 7 or 6

Cons

  • Different panel design (can be good or bad)

Nike Elite Championship Basketball

Nike Elite Championship

  • NFHS approved
  • Pebbled seams
  • Soft feel
  • Price (at time of publish): $90

Nike is best known for making shoes, but they also make some great basketballs.

The Nike Elite Championship is their premiere indoor basketball.

It uses a composite cover material which is durable, and has an excellent soft feel.

The seams are deep and textured (similar to the Wilson Evolution), which helps further improve control, and give the ball a consistent feel all the way around.

The Nike Elite Championship is also NFHS approved.

Overall, it is a great basketball. There is not much to complain about, except the price. It currently costs around $90 (on Amazon), which is a bit more than comparable Wilson or Spalding choices.

Pros

  • Soft feel
  • Textured seams for better control
  • NFHS approved
  • Sizes 7 and 6 available

Cons

  • A bit expensive

How do I choose the best indoor basketball?

To help you with your decision, here are some things you should consider:

  • Size
  • Cover material
  • Bounce + Air retention
  • Design
  • Brand / Price

Size

Make sure you get a suitable ball size. Most indoor game balls only come in size 6 (women’s) or size 7 (men’s). Here is an official basketball size chart for your reference:

Size CircumferenceWeightDescription (age / gender / etc.)
Size 729.5” (75cm)22 oz (0.62 kg)NBA; Official men’s size; Men’s ages 13+
Size 628.5” (72.5cm)18-20 oz (0.51 –
0.57 kg)
WNBA; Official women’s size; Girl age 12+; Boys age 11-13
Size 527.5” (69.9cm)14-16 oz (0.4 – 0.45 kg)Youth (Boys and Girls) aged 9-11
Size 425.5” (64.77cm)14 oz (0.4 kg)Children (Boys and Girls) age 8 and under
Size 3 / mini22.5” (55.9cm)10 oz(0.28 kg)Novelty-sized, “mini” basketball

Cover Material + Feel

The best indoor basketballs are either made with composite leather, or genuine leather. Don’t buy a full rubber basketball to use indoors.

Genuine leather balls — like the official NBA or FIBA basketballs — are generally thought to be of better quality and long term durability. The downside is that they need to be broken in first, and are expensive. They will feel hard and slick before being broken in.

Composite leather balls are much cheaper, and don’t need to be broken in. They will feel soft right out of the box. Many people actually prefer the feel of composite leather as it is what they are used to.

Bounce + Air retention

You want a ball that has a consistent, predictable bounce. This makes dribbling and shooting easier. You don’t want a ball that is too bouncy, and of course, you don’t want a ball that doesn’t bounce at all. Most high end indoor basketballs have good internal construction for consistent bounce. Just make sure not to overinflate the ball.

According to official NBA standards, when a ball is dropped straight down from a height of 72 inches, it should bounce back up 52 to 56 inches.

Another overlooked feature is air retention. This is hard to know until you use the ball for awhile. It can be super annoying if you have to pump air into the ball every time you play.

Design

This comes down to personal preferences. The NBA, and most popular North American basketballs like Wilson or Spalding use an 8-panel design. The FIBA official basketball uses a 12-panel design:

NBA 8-panel design
FIBA 12-panel design

Some other basketballs like the Baden Elite, use an 8 panel design that is more spaced out than the standard NBA design. Get whatever feels good to you.

Brand + Price

It’s always a good idea to buy a ball from a reputable brand like Wilson, or Spalding. There are also some smaller brands like the above mentioned Baden that have a good reputation. There’s a reason these companies have managed to stay in business for so long (i.e. quality).

You may be tempted to buy some weird knock-off brand that is super cheap, but it will probably not be worth it in the end. It’s better to spend a few extra dollars on a reliable ball.

Other FAQ

Here are some other questions you may have when it comes to indoor basketballs:

Can you play with an indoor basketball outside?

You should NOT play with an indoor basketball outside. The softer cover will be ripped apart by the harder, rougher outdoor surfaces. It will also get extremely dirty.

Get an outdoor basketball instead, or combination indoor/outdoor ball.

Can I use an outdoor ball for indoor?

Technically, you can. The rubber cover material will feel odd on hardwood courts and indoor baskets. It will probably seem like the ball is sticking a bit.

For playing outdoors, I recommend getting a real indoor ball, or combination indoor/outdoor basketball.

Do you need to clean your basketball?

If your ball gets dirty, then you should clean it. Simply use a wet towel and some dish soap to wipe down the ball. Make sure you rinse off all the soap. Here is a guide from Wilson.

Be careful with leather basketballs, as you may dry out the leather.

How much should I inflate my basketball?

Follow the guidelines from the manufacturer. For example, the recommended inflation for the Spalding Legacy TF-1000 is 8 PSI (pounds per square inch).

The official NBA ball is inflated between 7.5 to 8.5 PSI.

It is typically around 7 to 9 PSI. Just don’t overinflate your ball as it could explode, or just be way too bouncy (resulting in jammed fingers and more missed shots).

Summary

If you’re a serious hooper, you know that a good indoor basketball makes a big difference. It feels better on your hands, and makes playing more enjoyable.

I personally like the standard “Wilson Evolution” the best. Maybe I’m just used to it.

The Rock” easily offers the best value (if you can find one).

If budget is no concern, then just go for the 100% genuine leather Wilson NBA Official basketball. 😎

Now, I want to hear from you:

Which of these indoor basketballs did you buy?

Or, did I not include one on this list?

Either way, let me know in the comments below!

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Larry Lee

Larry Lee

Larry is a basketball addict, and the founder of Hoop Dojo. He started Hoop Dojo to share his love of the game and help the next generation reach their full potential.