Basketball Size Guide: What Are The Different Sizes of Basketballs & How Much Do They Weigh?

Basketballs come in several different sizes, and before starting to play basketball, each player needs to know the different sizes, and which basketball is the right one for his or her level of play. No matter the age or skill of the player, there is a suitable basketball for everyone who wants to play and or develop their game. Choosing the right size basketball is important as the wrong size can adversely affect player development over time, whereas the right size will help players achieve their full potential. For example, for developing players, learning the proper hand placement for shooting as well as the correct methods for passing and dribbling can only be achieved by using the right size basketball. In addition, some leagues have specific requirements for ball size during game play. Here is an in-depth guide that describes the three most common sizes of basketballs, and will help you choose the right size ball given your age, gender and level of experience.


How Much Does a Basketball Weigh?

Basketballs come in several different sizes, and the size, measured in inches, reflects the circumference of the ball. The weight of a basketball, which is largely determined by its size, is an important aspect of the game, and even the slightest difference in size and weight can impact a player's shot, pass, or dribble. 


The weight of a basketball is generally determined by its skin, as the air pumped into the ball adds only a negligible amount of weight. For example, in the case of a 29.5” basketball, when properly inflated, the air weighs only about .03 pounds. Pumping extra air into a ball doesn’t add much in terms of weight, but it does stiffen and stretch the surface of the ball, giving it extra bounciness. As a result, an underinflated basketball weighs only slightly less than an overinflated one, but feel and performance will vary significantly between the two balls. When it comes to most sports balls, including basketballs, sometimes pounds per square inch, or psi, is used as a measure of weight. However, although measured in pounds, psi is the pressure that the internal air pushes outward on the skin, not an accurate indication of weight. Therefore, when used in official games, not only is the size important, but also the pressure, which needs to be consistent so that game play is not adversely affected. 


The 29.5” ball, the one used in professional leagues across the world, weighs in at 22 ounces. There is typically no room for error when inflating the ball, as the best players in the world need to have the ball feel and perform the same during each game.


The 28.5” basketball is used in women’s leagues, as well as younger leagues for boys who aren’t ready for the larger 29.5” ball. This ball is just a little bit lighter, coming in at 20 ounces.


As one can expect, the lightest ball is the 27.5” basketball and is used in youth leagues. This ball weighs only 17 ounces, providing a smaller and lighter option to kids who are just starting out the game of basketball and who are still working on their shooting, passing and dribbling skills. 

29.5” Men’s Basketball

This version of the basketball is the largest size available, as it is the same size used by the best athletes in the world in the NBA. Also referred to as a size 7 basketball, it is also used by most other professional leagues around the world, as well as men’s college and high school leagues in the United States. This ball is generally targeted for males aged 15 up, as it generally accommodates a larger hand span. However, there is no limit on who can use this ball and may be played with by anyone who desires.

28.5” Women’s Basketball

The 28.5” women’s basketball, or size 6 basketball, is the official ball size for most women’s professional basketball associations, including the WNBA, including women’s college and high school basketball leagues. This ball has a 28.5” circumference, just one inch smaller than the one used in the NBA. The size difference is due to the fact that WNBA players are typically smaller and lighter and have smaller hand spans than NBA players, making the smaller women’s ball the ideal size for play. This ball is also sometimes referred to as an “intermediate” ball, and because of its smaller size, it is also used in boys and girls youth leagues for players aged 12 and older who are still developing their game or who may not have reached their full physical size. 


27.5” Kids Basketball

The next size down is the size 5 basketball, which measures 27.5” in circumference and is geared towards kids aged 8 to 11. At this age, kids are still developing their game and a smaller ball is better for skill development and learning the rules of the game. A lighter ball at only 17 ounces, it is ideal for kids to work on shooting, passing or dribbling without getting frustrated by a larger, heavier ball that is more difficult for smaller hands to grip, which could potentially lead to bad habits and a loss of interest in the game. The smaller size will not only instill confidence in younger players, but will also help put them on the path towards future success. Also sometimes referred to as a “junior” ball, this basketball is commonly used in youth basketball leagues for kids under the age of 12. 


Basketball Size Guide


Men’s 

Women’s

Kids

Size

7

6

5

Circumference (inches)

29.5

28.5

27.5

Weight (ounces)

22

20

17

Recommended gender and age

Men and boys 15 and up

Boys 12-14;

Girls and women 12 and up

Boys and girls 8 to 11

League

NBA, men’s college and high school

WNBA, women’s college and high school; 

Youth leagues 12 and up

Youth leagues under 12


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published