One size does not fit all in basketball.
The official NBA basketball size is 29.5 inches in circumference, and that standard is used across men’s college and boy’s high school basketball. This is also known as size 7, with a weight of 22 ounces and a diameter between 9.43 and 9.51 inches.
The WNBA, women’s college, girl’s high school, and boy’s and girl’s middle school use a different size, though, playing with balls measuring at 28.5 inches in circumference, alternately referred to as size 6. It weighs 20 ounces and has a 9.07 to 9.23-inch diameter. Where the NBA and WNBA agree is on pressure, both regulating their balls measure in between 7.5 and 8.5 PSI.
The NCAA varies from the pro ranks in diameter, with its men playing with a ball between 9.39 and 9.55 and its women using one within the range of 9.07 and 9.23, equal to its professional counterpart.
Youth players are looking at a different set of parameters. The standard youth basketball size – size 5 – comes in at 27.5 inches in diameter, weighing 17 ounces. This is primarily for players aged between 9 and 11, boys and girls. It gets smaller the younger you go, through, as kids between 5 and 8 should play with a size 4, which has a 25.5-inch circumference and 14-ounce weight. You can get even smaller with a size 3, which is meant for any child who needs it, with a 22-inch circumstance and 10-ounce weight.
There are other things to consider when buying a basketball: will it be used inside, outside or both? What sort of grip do you prefer? How sturdy do you need it to be? But if you don’t know what size you need, none of those other questions matter.
Basketball Size Does Matter
Basketball is a game of muscle memory. When your body does one action enough, it can assume it on command. This is crucial in hoops, where shooting form, footwork, body positioning and more can make all the difference.
If you’re starting out with hoops, whether you’re a child or adult, it’s important to begin with the proper basketball size. If you use one that is too big or small, you run the risk of training your body to work with a tool it won’t see in a live-game setting. Your hands will become used to shooting a ball that either overwhelms them with size or can’t be properly controlled because it’s too tiny, with using a ball that’s too big or heavy likely hindering you worse than the opposite. When you go to shoot the sized ball you should have been using all along, your mechanics and fundamentals could be completely thrown off.
This applies to adults and children, so remember, when you’re buying your kid a basketball, don’t forget to check the size.