What are the Differences Between Outdoor and Indoor Basketballs?

Basketball is a very popular sport in various countries in the world, as it is exciting to play and it is also quite fun to watch. In addition to being fun and exciting, basketball is also a sport that can be played almost anywhere, as long as there’s a hoop or a basket and a basketball. No matter the rules, basketball is still quite enjoyable to play, although nothing can top the professional leagues where the best basketball players compete to win a championship.

While the basketballs used in the professional leagues are quite expensive and high-quality, they are not exactly suitable for outdoor use, which is where a lot of people play the sport. So, in order to cater to the basketball players that play on the street and on concrete, basketball manufacturers created outdoor basketballs. Are there any differences between the basketball used indoors and the one used outdoors? Let us find out as we dive into the difference between outdoor and indoor basketballs.


The biggest difference between outdoor and indoor basketballs is the materials used for them. Indoor basketballs are made of full-grain leather that has a thick cut so that it remains relatively firm while it is dribbled. Furthermore, the leather of indoor basketballs also allows them to have a better feel and grip for basketball players, which is essential for professional leagues where the sport is played in a fast-paced and efficient manner.

On the other hand, outdoor basketballs are made of thick rubber, which is supposed to give the basketballs better durability compared to their indoor counterparts. Unfortunately, rubber basketballs don’t have the same feel and grip as indoor basketballs, so handling them can be more difficult. 

But, if you have gotten used to playing with outdoor basketballs and have only played outdoors, you wouldn’t really notice the lack of court feel on the ball since you haven’t tried playing indoor basketball yet. However, once you have played both indoor and outdoor basketballs, you will notice that you play better with indoor basketballs.

Price Range

outdoor basketball on concrete

Because full-grain leather can be quite expensive as a material, indoor basketballs are innately more expensive than outdoor basketballs. Most of the indoor basketballs you can buy today have a price range of more than $100, which is quite a lot considering that you can buy basketball shoes for a much lower price. In comparison, outdoor basketballs can be as cheap as $20, and these balls can last for dozens of games before their treads are gone or a hole appears on their surface.

But, a lot of people that play indoor basketball most of the time would say that spending more than $100 on a basketball is justifiable, as it will still be quite durable, although it shouldn’t be utilized outdoors to prolong its lifespan. In addition to being more durable on indoor courts, some of the expensive indoor basketballs also give you a better grip and feel. If you want the best basketball for playing, you should try the official basketballs used in the NBA.

If you are playing basketball outdoors most of the time, you really shouldn’t spend your money on buying expensive leather basketballs, as they are not really suitable for outdoor use even if you want to get an improved grip and response on the court. But, there are also expensive outdoor basketballs that are made of more durable rubber and are quite close in performance to indoor basketballs.


As we have mentioned in this article, indoor basketballs are known more for performance instead of durability, while outdoor basketballs are more suitable for durability. However, there are also indoor basketballs that can feel cheap and low-quality, so their performance is not really as good as the ones that are $100 or above in terms of price. The same could also be said for outdoor basketballs since there are brands that produce less durable balls compared to the already established companies that make basketballs with good reviews.

So, picking a basketball for both indoor and outdoor use can be quite difficult, as the performance for each model made by companies varies. If you want to get the best basketballs, you should definitely check out review websites that will give you all you actually need to know about specific models and brands of basketballs available today. 

In addition to the performance, the reviews would also provide you with the pros and cons of every popular and new model of basketball. By learning the weaknesses and strengths of the basketballs you plan to buy, you will know which one is more suitable for your playstyle or preference on the court.


basketball with different colors

In terms of color, there really isn’t much difference between a regular indoor basketball and the common outdoor basketball used on the streets or in concrete parks. However, if you take a close look at both indoor and outdoor basketballs, you will notice that indoor basketballs are much shinier and smoother, while outdoor basketballs would have a matte texture that is quite rough to the touch. The shiny and smooth appearance of indoor basketballs is most likely brought by the full-grain leather and its coating that makes the leather material have more grip and better durability.

Meanwhile, outdoor basketballs are rough and matted because of the thick rubber used for them, which can often feel like the tires of a car. The rough texture also allows players to have a better grip on the ball, although it wouldn’t offer the same feel as indoor basketballs. Moreover, while a lot of indoor basketballs are orange in color, outdoor basketballs can often come in a variety of colors, although a lot of people prefer orange to make the balls look similar to outdoor basketballs.

There are a lot of differences between outdoor and indoor basketballs. Because of their massive differences, indoor basketballs cannot be used outdoors, and outdoor basketballs cannot be used indoors since they are made specifically for the type of court they are intended to be used on. If you play indoors and outdoors, it is recommended that you get one outdoor ball and one indoor ball for a better playing experience.