Best Basketballs & Basketball Toys for Kids in 2018

Playing basketball has a number of benefits for kids. It provides health benefits and social skills. Health benefits for kids include building up their physical endurance, improving their motor skills, improving their balance, and improving their agility. Basketball also gives kids the chance to be a part of a team, developing important social skills and giving them a sense of belonging. To play basketball, the main piece of equipment you need is a basketball. Basketballs come in a variety of colors, materials, and sizes. In particular, the size of the basketball needs to be appropriate to the size of your child.

Basketballs are available in a wide variety of sizes. There are small balls for toddlers, which may be made of foam. These are appropriate for child-sized hoops and may not bounce the way a “real” basketball does. They do work for playing catch as well as for playing basketball. From there, basketballs increase in size and weight, and the best basketball for your child will depend on their age.

There are size 3 balls, which are 22 inches in circumference and appropriate for kids 4-8 years old. These are also known as mini basketballs. The next size is size 4, and these balls measure 25.5 inches in circumference. These balls weigh 14 ounces and are appropriate for kids 5-8 years old. Size 5 balls are appropriate for boys and girls ages 9-11 and are 27.5 inches in circumference. These balls are sometimes referred to as youth balls. Size 6 balls are appropriate for boys ages 12-14 and girls and women ages 12 and up. These balls are 28.5 inches and weigh 20 ounces. They are used by women’s college and professional teams. Size 7 balls are 29.5 inches and are appropriate for boys age 15 and older.

Our Top 3 Picks

SKLZ Pro Mini Swish Foam Ball
  • SKLZ Pro Mini Swish Foam Ball
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • For Young Kids
  • Price: See Here
Mini Basketball Kids Game Ball
  • Mini Basketball Kids Game Ball
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Indoor/Outdoor/Pool use
  • Price: See Here
Franklin Sports Junior Basketball
  • Franklin Sports Junior Basketball
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Polyester Winding
  • Price: See Here

Criteria Used In Evaluation of Best Basketball Toys For Kids

Basketball is a popular game that can be played by children of almost any age. To play basketball, children need a ball. To evaluate the best basketballs for kids, there were a few criteria to keep in mind. The balls should be durable and hold up to multiple games. They should be smaller and lightweight, and appropriate to the child’s age and size. The balls should have good bounce, otherwise they aren’t suitable for playing basketball. The balls should be grippy, allowing children to hold them and learn to shoot, pass, and dribble. Finally, the balls should be safe for play.

Durability is important for any children’s toy, and it’s especially important for a ball. If it’s not durable, it won’t stay inflated, and inflation is critical for proper bounce, dribbling, shooting, and rebounding. It is normal over the life of a basketball for it to need inflation, though, so if you’re investing in a rubber ball, you should also invest in an air pump. Balls for very young children are typically made of foam, though, and don’t require inflation. They are softer and vulnerable to being chewed on, so they should be kept out of the reach of pets if you want them to last.

Basketballs designed for children are smaller than regulation balls. The smallest balls, also referred to as micro-mini or mini-balls, are typically around 5 inches in diameter and made of foam. This keeps them light and easy for small hands to handle, giving them a chance to start learning the basics of the game. Youth balls are larger, typically 27.5 inches in circumference. This gives them the feel of a “real” basketball, while still being lighter and smaller. This gives children the chance to learn the skills needed to succeed in the game without having to manage a heavy ball they can’t properly grip.
Bouncing is a central element of the game of basketball. If a ball doesn’t have good bounce, you child won’t be able to learn to dribble or rebound. The balls included on this list have good bounce, making them good for learning essential basketball skills. For maximum bounce, rubber balls may need to have additional air added after shipping, and may need to be reinflated from time to time.

Grip is also essential, particularly for younger players who are still developing manual dexterity. The balls on this list have a textured surface for maximum grip. Without good grip, the balls slip easily and children will have more difficulty in learning to shoot, pass, and dribble. The texture varies depending on the type of ball. Foam balls feel a bit different than rubber balls, for example, but all have textured surfaces so little fingers can get a good hold while playing.

Most importantly, the balls included on this list are safe. The balls designed for toddlers and young children are made of foam, which is softer than rubber. If the ball happens to hit your child while playing, it’s much less likely to cause any sort of injury. Foam balls are also better for indoor play, as they’re less likely to make noise and break household items. Rubber balls for youth are smaller and lighter, making them less likely to cause injury as well.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which basketballs are best for young children?

A:  Foam balls are typically best for young children. These tend to be smaller (around 5 inches in diameter). The small size and light weight make them easier for little hands to grip and bounce. Foam balls on this list are the SKLZ Pro Mini Swish Foam Ball and the Pro Mini Basketball, Chastep, 6 Inch Foam Ball.

Q: Which basketballs are best for girls?

A: Any basketball may appeal to girls. The best guideline is find a ball that’s suited for her hand size. A mini ball would be appropriate for a toddler, while a size 5, or “youth,” basketball would be appropriate if she is a bit older. Size 6 balls are good for girls aged 12 and older, and are used by women’s college and professional teams. Some balls have extra touches that might provide extra appeal for girls. The Pro Mini Basketball, Chastep, 6 Inch Foam Ball, for example, comes in a fun blue and pink color combination. The Hello Kitty Mini Basketball 7 has fun graphics that may appeal to girls. The Mikasa National Junior Rubber Basketball has a fun pink and blue color combination which may also appeal to girls.

Q: Which basketballs are best for older children?

A: Older children will benefit from playing with “youth” balls. These balls are typically 27.5 inches in circumference, making them large enough to help children master the game, but small and light enough to be handled by growing children. Youth balls on this list include the Franklin Sports Junior 27.5 Inch USA Basketball, the Spalding Rookie Gear Indoor/Outdoor Composite 27.5 Youth Basketball, the Mikasa BX1000 Premium Rubber Basketball, the Wilson NCAA MVP Rubber Basketball, the MacGregor Multicolor Basketballs, the MacGregor X500 Basketball, and the Spalding 2016 All Conference Basketball.

Q:  Does it come inflated?

A:  Foam basketballs don’t require inflation, so they are shipped ready to play. Rubber balls vary, but even when they are shipped “inflated,” they may require additional air for maximum bounce. It’s good practice to have an air pump, as basketballs lose air over time and require inflation for continued play.

Q: What material are the basketballs made of?

A: Basketballs are made from a variety of materials. Mini basketballs for very young children are typically made from foam to make them safe and easy to grip. Larger balls are made from rubber for grip and bounce.

Q: What size is the basketball?

A: The smallest basketballs are 5-6 inches in diameter and designed for toddlers and very young children. Larger basketballs come in standard sizes. The smallest size is size 1, which is 16 inches in circumference and designed for ages 2-4. The next size is size 3, which is 22 inches in circumference and suited for children ages 4-8. Size 4 balls are 25.5 inches are are suitable for ages 5-8. Size 5 balls are 27.5 inches are suited for children ages 9-11. Size 6 balls are 28.5 inches and ideal for boys ages 12-14 and girls and women ages 12 and above. Size 7 balls are 29.5 inches and ideal for boys ages 15 and above.

Sources

  1. Amanda Morin, 5 Playground Activities That Can Help Your Child’s Development, informative article,
  2. Judy Wang, 6 Health Benefits of Basketball for Children, informative article,
  3. Srividya Y, 9 Benefits of playing Basketball for kids, blog,
  4. Logan Kosmalski, BENEFITS OF BASKETBALL FOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT, blog,
  5. Amanda Davis, Why Should Children Play Sports?, informative article,