When Dr. James Naismith invented basketball in 1891, he used peach baskets as goals and soccer balls (weighing only 16 ounces) for the first two years. Since then, the weight of a basketball has changed when the first basketball made of laced leather was manufactured in 1894. Decades later, genuine leather was used and then composite leather in the 1990s up until now. Because we now have standard basketballs in production, how much does a basketball weigh?
Before we answer that question, let us examine why the weight of a basketball is critical.
How Important is the Weight of a Basketball
There are standards for basketball size and weight for a reason. Can you imagine all these big guys at the NBA still shooting basketballs the size and weight of soccer balls? A properly inflated ball and one of the correct size are essential for proper skill development and basketball players’ safety.
Does a ball that is not adequately inflated affect the training of a basketball player? Of course! A ball with too little air will be too flat and impossible to dribble. An overly inflated basketball may also be challenging to dribble as it tends to stay high and difficult to control when shooting. Moreover, improperly catching an overly inflated ball or reaching for it as a defender may cause jamming of the fingers.
Thus, for the safety of the players and for their skill development, there is no other way but to use a properly inflated ball of the correct size and weight.
What’s the Standard Weight of a Basketball to Have?
If we are talking about a standard NBA basketball, the standard weight is 22 ounces or around 1.4 pounds. (The weight of basketball in kg is 0.623 kg.) It measures 29.5 inches in circumference and is inflated to about an air pressure of 7.5 to 8.5 psi (pounds per square inch).
However, depending on the level of basketball you are playing, the official sizes and weight of the ball may vary. Let’s take a look.
How Much Does a Basketball Weigh in Various Basketball Leagues?
NBA Basketball Weight
As mentioned, the NBA basketball weight is 22 ounces or 1.4 pounds, give or take. (That is 623.69 grams if we are using the metric system.) The official NBA basketball has a circumference of 29.5 inches and an air pressure of 7.5 to 8.5 psi. The official NBA basketball is commonly referred to as a size 7.
WNBA Basketball Weight
The WNBA and the NBA may have a similar 10-foot hoop and 50 feet x 94 feet of court, but there is a slight difference between the weight of the basketball they use. While the NBA uses a basketball with a 29.5-inch circumference, the WNBA uses a size 6 basketball, which measures 27.75 inches and weighs 18 ounces. If inflated to around 8 psi, the ball may reach a maximum of 28.5 inches in circumference and up to 20 ounces in weight.
NCAA Basketball Weight
Official NCAA basketballs are manufactured by Wilson, and it is a little bigger than the Spalding basketball the NBA uses. (The NBA has dropped its partnership with Spalding after this season and will use Wilson basketballs starting in 2021-22.)
The maximum circumference of a standard NCAA basketball is 30 inches and a weight of 22 ounces. The seams are no wider than 0.25 inches. On the other hand, a women’s NCAA basketball has a similar seam width but is only at around 20 ounces in weight and 29 inches in circumference.
FIBA Basketball Weight
The official balls used in FIBA basketball competition are manufactured by a company called Molten. Typically, the men use the GL7 series, and the women use the GL6. It is a little less heavy than Spalding and Wilson basketballs, weighing only 567 grams or 20 ounces. While it weighs less than an NBA basketball, it is also slightly more prominent at a circumference of 30.7 inches for men. Women’s basketball is around 29 inches in circumference.
How Much Does a Youth Basketball Typically Weigh?
Most of the junior or youth basketball leagues use a college ball. Otherwise, if a youth basketball is used, they weigh significantly less than NBA or college balls.
Typically, a youth basketball is referred to as a size 5 basketball. It is about 27.5 inches in circumference (70 cm) and weighs around 20 ounces (1.25 pounds). Most kids up to 10 years old use this type of basketball.
If need be, children eight years old and below use a smaller basketball. It is often referred to as a size 4 and weighs only 14 ounces with a circumference of 25.5 inches. After the size 4, the size 3 is what is referred to as a mini-basketball. It only weighs 10 ounces with a circumference of 22 inches.
Basketball Sizes and Weight
We have already outlined the basketball sizes and weight above, but for the data to be more comprehensive, let’s put it in one table below:
|Size 7||29.5 inches||22 ounces||This is the official size and weight of an NBA and NCAA basketball. Recommended for basketball players 15 and above.|
|Size 6||28.5 inches||20 ounces||This is the official size of a WNBA and women’s NCAA basketball. It is recommended for boys and girls 12-14 years old.|
|Size 5||27.5 inches||17 ounces||Recommended for boys and girls from 9-11 years old and is most often referred to as a youth basketball.|
|Size 4||25.5 inches||14 ounces||For boys and girls eight years old and below, preferably as young as five years old.|
|Size 3||22 inches||10 ounces||Often referred to as mini basketball, it is recommended for kids 4-8 years old.|
|Size 1||16 inches||8 ounces||Often called the micro-mini basketball, the size 1 is best used by pre-school children 2-4 years old.|
|FIBA basketball||Up to 30.7 inches||20-22 ounces||A FIBA basketball, which uses the Molten brand, is officially a size 7 but may have a circumference of up to 30.7 inches. Women’s international basketball also uses a size 6, but with slight variations in circumference and weight.|
|Nerf ball||9-20 inches||1-5 ounces||Ball made of foam, plastic, or rubber and is recommended for toddlers.|
7 Random Facts about Basketballs:
1. Spalding was the first manufacturer of basketballs in 1894 based on the design of the existing baseball. It has been the official manufacturer of NBA basketball since 1983 and until the 2019-20 season.
2. The Japanese manufacturer has been the official manufacturer of the balls used in international basketball competitions (including the Olympics and World Championships) sanctioned by FIBA. It has been doing so since 1982 until now.
3. The official Spalding NBA basketball is made of the finest full grain leather and costs a shade under $170.
4. Spalding became the official ball manufacturer of the Euroleague in 2012.
5. Albert Goodwill Spalding, the Spalding founder, was a pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings with an overall winning percentage of .796. He is also the first pitcher to get 200 wins.
6. Molten basketballs were made the Tokyo 1964 Olympics’ official basketball, only six years after the company’s inception.
7. Wilson has been the official partner of NCAA basketball since the 1990s and will take over as the NBA’s official basketball in the 2021-22 season. It was also the first partner of the league from 1946 until it was replaced by Spalding in 1983.
Wrapping Things Up: How Much Does a Basketball Weigh
For non-basketball fans, talking about the weight of a basketball seems irrelevant. However, for the sake of skill development and consistency, standard measurements of a basketball have been developed through the years.
In the game’s inception, Dr. Naismith has to make do with what’s already there– in this case, peach baskets and soccer balls. Soccer balls typically weigh around 16 inches and compared to the basketball sizes today, that’s about the weight of a size 5 basketball, one recommended for 9-11-year-old kids. It must have been pretty uncomfortable to shoot with!
As mentioned, there are already standard or official basketball sizes and basketball weights. A size 7 is the one used in the NBA and men’s NCAA. It is usually 22 ounces in weight, 29.5 inches in circumference, with air pressure between 7.5 to 8.5 psi. It is also the recommended ball for boys aged 15 and up. A size 6 basketball is the one used by the WNBA and NCAA. Tournaments for girls aged 12-14 years old use a size 6 basketball– 28.5 inches in circumference and 20 ounces in weight.
From there, youth basketball uses a different basketball weight and size. A size 5 basketball, 27.5 inches in circumference, and 17 ounces in weight are usually referred to as a youth basketball. A size 4 basketball is for kids 5-8 years old, and a size 3 basketball is often called the mini basketball. Even smaller than that, a size 1 basketball is called the micro-mini basketball; because, after all, it is only 16 inches in circumference and weighs only 8 ounces.
The Molten basketballs used in FIBA competitions, including the Olympics and World Championships, are also officially a size 7. That means they also weigh 22 ounces, but they may have a circumference of up to 30.7 inches rather than the typical 29.5.
Why is it important that we know all about the weight of basketball and its sizes? It is essential because it is not safe and is not conducive to basketball skills development. How so? An underinflated basketball is virtually impossible to dribble, while an overinflated basketball is hard to control and may injure fingers after a wrong catch. Because of these reasons, it is very critical to use basketballs and their recommended weight and sizes.
Those who are not familiar with basketball may get confused about the question, how much does a basketball weigh? After all, a ball is just a ball, right? Wrong! Official basketball weight and sizes exist for a reason, and as basketball players, it would be in our best interest to follow these propositions.