How Long Do Basketballs Last? [Answer By A Pro Player]

There’s more to choosing the right basketball than most people think. If you want your ball to last, you have to know which kind of ball to get. If you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘How long do basketballs last?’ then you’re just as big of a basketball nerd as I am. 

While it may seem that basketballs last forever, based on some that I’ve played with at rec centers, they surely don’t. Many factors come into play that determines the lifespan of a basketball. 

Quick answer: It depends on a lot of factors including but not limited to playing frequency, ball maintenance and storage, court surface, and ball quality, but generally a basketball lasts between 1-3 years.

The good news is we can positively affect this with a few key pointers. Basketballs don’t grow on trees, they cost hard-earned money, and we want to ensure everyone gets the most for their dollar.

We also want you to play your best, which means having a ball that is the proper shape and provides a superior grip. 

Let’s take a look at how long a basketball is supposed to last and what you can do to lengthen its time on this earth.   

How Long Do Basketballs Last?

Basketballs can last for a very long time with the proper care. Assuming you play every day for multiple hours a day, an outdoor basketball can last you almost a year. Indoor basketballs, under the same circumstances, should last longer.

Of course, if you play less, say once a week, your basketball will last longer no matter what court you play on. 

Factors That Will Affect The Lifespan Of Your Basketball

Proper care of your basketball is the best way to extend its lifespan and save you the hassle of having to buy a new one too often.

a wilson basketball

It will also help you play better, as you will preserve the grip and bounce of the ball, so it continues to do what a basketball should. 

Material

Choosing the right material for your ball is the first step to getting a basketball that will last you a long time. First, you must determine where you play the most; outdoors or indoors. 

Outdoors

Playing outdoors on asphalt and public courts will be the roughest on any basketball. If this is your preferred venue, be sure to get a ball made from rubber or composite leather.

outdoor basketball play

Rubber is more common since it’s less expensive and durable, but composite leather is slightly more durable. 

Indoors

For indoor play, you can get an all-leather ball. These are the most preferred because they offer the best grip while still being quite soft to the touch. Using a leather ball indoors will ensure you get the most out of your basketball, and it will last for a very long time. Molten is a great brand that makes indoor basketballs. 

Amount Of Usage

If you never use your basketball and keep it safely stored away, it will last forever, no matter the material it’s made with. But if you do that, what’s the point of getting a basketball? They’re meant to be played with, so once you get one, be sure to use it as often as possible. 

Using a ball once a week for a few hours means you can keep it for years before even thinking about replacing it. However, if your basketball is being used on a daily basis for multiple hours a day, then replacing it within a year is not uncommon. 

Much like anything else, the more you use it, the quicker it will wear down. Taking good care of your basketball is the best way to elongate its life as well as get the best performance out of it during each game. 

Proper Care And Maintenance

Many of us grew up with basketball courts in our driveways, and therefore, leaving a basketball outside overnight was common. If you want to keep your basketball for a long time, do not do this. Moisture is the enemy of any basketball and should be avoided. 

 a black and green spalding basketball

If you have a leather ball, then this is even more important. Water will change the composition of the leather cover, and it will feel a lot different. Depending on how moisture was exposed to it, you could see spots on the ball that are less grippy than others. 

Rubber balls can withstand a lot more wear and tear, but any damage they incur will shorten their lifespan, and you won’t get your full money’s worth. 

No matter the material, always keep your basketball in a cool and dry place. Your gym bag is ideal, but if it doesn’t fit, keep it indoors at room temperature. 

Ensure you don’t store anything on top of it either, as this may cause the ball to change shape. If left for a long time, the ball could turn into an oval, which will have a drastic effect on how it bounces and flies through the air during shots.  

How To Tell When It’s Time To Replace Your Basketball

There’s nothing like the feel of a brand-new basketball. The touch, weight, and smell are all unmistakable and make you feel like a professional during those first few uses. Basketballs can wear down over time, which means you may not notice its decline. 

a deflated ball

The first thing that will give you a clue that it’s time to replace it is when you start to lose your grip. Of course, this is basketball, and the speed of the game means that sometimes you will lose your grip organically.

But if you find yourself missing easy passes, or the ball sliding off your fingers while shooting, then it’s time for a new rock. 

You may also notice a difference in the bounce when you’re dribbling. This is more prevalent on indoor courts where the surface is more predictable than on rough outdoor courts.

Simply dribble the ball in the same spot and see if the return is consistent. If you start to lose your handle one way or the other, it’s probably misshapen and in need of replacement.  

What Is A Basketball Made From?

A basketball is made of different materials based on where it will be used the most. There are three main types of basketball compositions, and using the correct ball on your preferred surface is the best way to maintain the health of your basketball. 

Rubber

This is the cheapest in price and, therefore, the most popular for home courts and anywhere that basketball is played recreationally. While it may not feel the same as an official NBA ball, it provides durability to use it a lot and on different court conditions. 

spalding lay up basketball

When properly cared for, a rubber basketball can last a long time. If you play on really rugged courts, then its grip will wear down, but the shape should hold up very well. It’s much firmer than a leather or composite leather ball, but you should still not store it under anything.

Composite Leather

This material is very versatile. You can use it both indoors and outdoors. It provides slightly more durability than rubber and provides better feel, but at a higher price.

composite leather basketball

It’s also tougher to maintain, as the grip on it will start to wear down if you use it a lot on rough outdoor courts. 

This ball is also susceptible to ovaling if you store it with something heavy on it. Even leaving it on a ball rack during the off-season could have a negative effect. 

Leather 

This is the premier ball that is used in the NBA. You can always tell when you’re using a leather basketball, as the grip is second-to-none. It feels great when dribbling and provides excellent feel on shots. It is, however, the toughest to maintain. 

This material requires diligent attention. Never let it get wet; only use it on indoor courts, preferably hardwood.

Even if you’re carrying this ball on the sidewalk, don’t bounce it because even the slightest sharp edge could rip the cover. A small tear can turn into a big one very quickly. 

Don’t miss watching the useful video below that provides more insights into the topic.

Suggestions On How To Store Your Basketball

Preventing any damage to your basketball is the best way to make it last, so you can get as many games out of it as possible. Most people incur the most damage when not in use, so having a plan for your ball when not playing is imperative. 

  • Store your ball at room temperature. For anyone who lives in colder climates, do not keep it in your garage. Even though it’s out of the elements, large temperature swings can affect its shape and ability to hold the correct pressure.
  • Always keep it away from moisture. This can cause damage to the cover, even if you have a rubber ball. Keep it off the ground, and be sure there is no chance of anything like an air conditioner leaking on it.
  • Never place anything on top of your basketball. Even for a short period, this could cause your ball to take on an oval shape, which will affect its bounce and how it flies through the air. You will notice it on shots from 3-point land.
  • Keep it away from heat sources. This could also cause it to lose its shape and will have you tossing up bricks more often than you’d like.  

Maintaining The Proper Bounce On A Basketball

Storing your basketball at the proper temperature is the best way to ensure a consistent bounce. This prevents it from ovaling and will keep its shape. 

a basketball on an outdoor court

Getting the best bounce also has to do with maintaining the correct air pressure. A basketball’s standard PSI is between 7.5 and 8.5.

Most pumps will have a gauge on them to tell you exactly what it’s at, but if not, you can use any pressure gauge that has a ball needle attached to it. 

A basketball can lose its bounce if you’re not careful about storage and air pressure. Again, prevention is the key here, and knowing how to care for your basketball will lengthen its lifespan. 

Attributes To Look For In A Basketball 

When you’re shopping for a new basketball, the first question to ask yourself is. ‘Where will I be playing the most, outdoors or indoors?’ This will determine what attributes you should be looking for. 

 spalding hellas ball

Outdoor players should look for durable and inexpensive balls, since they will probably wear down faster. If you play indoors, then be sure to find a ball that suits your preferred feel.

The beauty of leather is that it feels great, so get a ball you love to use, and you’ll start to play better immediately.  

How Long Does A Spalding Basketball Last?

Spalding basketballs are some of the longest-lasting balls you can get. However, their longevity still depends on usage and how diligent you are with caring for it. Always ensure you have the right ball for whichever surface you play most on. 

spalding highlight basketball

A Spalding basketball is built to last, so if you find yours is wearing down quicker than most, it’s probably due to mistreatment.

If you swear you’re caring for it properly, it may be worth getting in touch with Spalding. They stand by their products, and in the off-chance you got an inferior ball, Spalding will want to know, so they can remedy the situation. 

Fixing A Flat Or Damaged Basketball 

To further extend the life of your basketball, you can make repairs when needed. Leaks from the air valve or damaged seams can be patched for a fraction of the cost of replacement.

a flat basketball

You can pick up a patching kit from most sports stores, and the instructions will be included. You need not be a professional basketball repairman to patch your own ball and keep it in play for a few more years. 

FAQs

How To Restore The Grip On Your Basketball?

To restore grip on your basketball, you must clean it thoroughly to remove all the dust that collects in the small crevasses. For rubber and composite leather balls, you can use a rag with soap and water. Scrub vigorously, rinse and let dry before using. For leather balls, use a damp rag and try not to get it too wet. Dab your leather ball only in the areas that need attention, and then quickly dry off using a clean towel. 

How To Break In Your Basketball?

To break in your basketball, you must use it as often as possible when you first get it. If you want to speed up the process, you can do small but hard dribbles, never letting the ball get above knee-level. This will roughen the surface just enough to give you maximum grip without wearing down the cover. 

How To Make Your Basketball Bounce Again?

To make your basketball bounce again, check the pressure. Basketballs should have a PSI of between 7.5 and 8.5. This is what the NBA uses for their basketballs. If you want more bounce, then get as close to 8.5 as you can. Be careful not to go over too much, as that could cause your ball to burst under high impact. 

How Many Bounces Does An NBA Basketball Last?

An NBA basketball has roughly 10,000 bounces in it before it’s replaced. This equates to about four games. The NBA constantly rotates their balls to maintain consistency throughout each game. A recreational ball can last a bit longer because it isn’t experiencing as much wear and tear through travel and professional play. 

Can You Wet A Basketball?

Yes, you can get a basketball wet, but it’s ill-advised. Rubber and composite leather basketballs can get wet without worrying about ruining the cover. However, genuine leather basketballs should never get wet; if it does happen, it should be dried immediately. Moisture will have a negative effect on the grip and feel. 

 

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