How to Deflate a Basketball: The 5 Best Ways

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Naturally, you would want to inflate a basketball to a proper level when it’s time to play. However, there may be instances when you would want to do the opposite such as when you over-inflate the ball or pack it in your suitcase when you travel. In any case, this article will discuss the five best ways on how to deflate a basketball. From there, you can decide what procedure works best relative to the circumstances you are in.

Why Would You Deflate a BasketballWhy Would You Deflate a Basketball?

The most common reason to deflate a ball is that you accidentally inflated it too much. Over-inflated balls are no fun to play with and may cause abnormal bouncing or, worse, injuries to the fingers.

Another possible result of an over-inflated ball is that it goes off the rim too hard on missed shots. It would also make your bounce passes a little harder and more difficult to catch. At first, it may make the ball a little easier to bounce when dribbling, but more often than not, it may eventually cause errant dribbles.

Still, you may want to deflate a basketball because you want to store it in a bag, perhaps when you are traveling. This is important and practical since traveling with and storing an inflated ball in a bag takes up too much space. Additionally, it’s troublesome and takes too much space.

Here’s a word of caution when it comes to basketballs: A lot of things may affect air pressure inside the ball. You may not realize it, but temperature can influence the ball’s air pressure. If it’s too cold, it may decrease the air pressure, and hot weather may do the opposite. 

That could also happen with altitude. The higher the place’s elevation, the more significant the increase of the air pressure in the ball. If you bring a perfectly inflated ball from Britton Hill, Florida (100 ft average elevation) to Mt. Elbert, Colorado (average elevation of 6,800 ft), you will certainly see that the ball is over-inflated.

What are the Best Ways to Deflate a BasketballWhat are the Best Ways to Deflate a Basketball?

Deflating a Basketball With an Inflation Pin 

This is perhaps the easiest, safest, and most appropriate way to deflate a basketball. Brand new balls almost always come with an inflation pin or needle, so it’s even less of a worry. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Make sure the pin is moistened before inserting it into the ball. You can do so by briefly putting it in water, applying saliva, or some lubricant. Of course, using saliva by licking the pin is not recommended because it is unsanitary, but in cases where you have limited options, you may have to do that to complete the task.
  • If you need to completely deflate the ball, you can remove the air pump and just let the air come out. Conversely, if you over-inflated the ball and only want little air to come out, it is advisable to let the air pump stay attached to the needle.
  • If you’re going to deflate the ball using the inflation pin alone with no air pump, simply push the needle down until you hear the air making its way out of the ball. Again, if you do not want to rid the ball of air completely, do this procedure for only a second or two.
  • As soon as you feel you have let enough air out, remove the needle from the ball. If you want to completely deflate the ball, you may have to aid the process by squeezing the ball tightly. Most of the time, if you’re just letting out a little of the air pressure, a quick check using your hands will do.

Deflating a Basketball With a Paperclip

Deflating a Basketball With a Paperclip

There is the best way to deflate a basketball, and there is one where you have to think it through. Using a paperclip to deflate a ball is one of those times you have to think through. Of course, we recognize that desperate times need desperate measures, but if you have a choice between a real inflation pin and a paperclip, go with the former every time. That said, if you’re in a bind and can’t find any pin, be resourceful and take a stab at it.

Here is how to deflate a basketball using a paperclip:

1. Straighten the paper clip the best way that you can. Make it as straight as a needle, moisten it using water (or you can get creative), and slowly insert the clip into the valve. 

2. It is important to make sure the clip goes right into the center so it won’t puncture the ball’s interior bladder. 

3. Feel your way through the center as slowly as you can and when the air goes out, ascertain the air pressure and slowly remove the paper clip when it has reached the desired amount.

Remember, this is not the best way to deflate a basketball since there is literally no room for error on this one. Just be careful and don’t rush, or you won’t be playing at all if you accidentally puncture the ball from the inside.

Deflating a Basketball With Bobby Pin or Sewing Needle

In a perfect setup, there would be no substitute for using an inflation pin or needle for inflating and deflating a basketball. If there is no time to procure one, the next best thing is to find a bobby pin or a needle that should not be too thick to poke a hole in the ball’s internal bladder. Use it as you would a paperclip, slowly making your way in the ball. When air is released, slowly pull out the bobby pin or sewing needle until you get the desired air pressure.

Deflating a Basketball With a Pen

This one is the trickiest method because, really, who would have thought a pen can deflate a ball for you? You would also need some tools like a knife or a scissor, and it would be preferable if the tube has no ink. Here is what you should do:

1. Take the tube from the pen and make sure it has no ink in it. If there is still ink, remove it by running warm water over it.

2. Measure about 1.5 to 2 inches from the bottom and cut the tube from there.

3. Most valves on the ink tube are removable, so the next step would be to take that out of the way.

4. Proceed as you would using a paper clip. Just make sure that the diameter of the ink tube is smaller than the diameter of the ball’s valve.

Deflating a Basketball With an Air Pressure Gauge

Deflating a Basketball With an Air Pressure Gauge

If you want to be as accurate as possible, using an air pressure gauge has got to be on top of the best ways to deflate a basketball. Aside from using a pin specifically designed for the purpose, the air pressure gauge makes sure that you are dealing with just the right amount of air.

1. As always, you need to lubricate the needle by moistening it, preferably in a hygienic way. The lubrication is critical because it prevents damage to the ball’s air valve.

2. Stick the needle of the pressure gauge into the air valve of the basketball.

3. Push the air release valve on the side of the air pressure gauge to begin releasing air. While you’re at it, carefully monitor the air pressure level until you reach the needed pressure. As a standard, a basketball’s air pressure should be between 7.5 to 8.5 pounds per square inch (psi).

Fixing Leaks in a BasketballFixing Leaks in a Basketball

If we are not careful enough, we may get unlucky and cause leaks in a basketball. Whatever the case, if you don’t like spending money on a new basketball, you can fix it yourself using these materials:

  • Vinyl. You may use vinyl to cover up leaks or small holes on the ball itself. Find the leak by submerging the ball in a water tub (or water pail), watching for air bubbles as you rotate the ball. After you mark the hole, heat a dull knife over an open flame. Put the vinyl over the leak and swab the hot knife over it until it melts. Wait for at least five minutes for the vinyl to harden. Inflate the ball up to the desired air pressure.
  • Bicycle repair kit. If you don’t have vinyl and do have a bicycle repair kit, follow the instructions there, and it should be directly applicable to how to repair leaks on a basketball. 
  • Repair sealant. Applying a repair sealant is also a viable way to fix basketball leaks. Use a syringe along with the sealant and depress it into the hole.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Deflate a Basketball

Deflating a basketball is not a recurring, everyday need, but there may be instances where it is imperative to do so. Two of the most common reasons why you need to deflate a basketball is when you are traveling with one or if you are playing and feel it’s over-inflated. Of course, putting a fully inflated ball in your baggage is not an option, and neither is playing with an over-inflated ball.

There are several ways to deflate a basketball. It ranges from the most proper to borderline desperate, and the choice should be up to you and the circumstances you are in. For the most part, we recommend to use an inflation pin or needle as much as you can or an air pressure gauge. Chances are, you don’t have an air pressure gauge handy, so if you’re playing basketball a lot, the next best way is to have inflation pins ready just in case.

With that being said, there will be circumstances where you may need to improvise, especially if you don’t have an air pressure gauge or an inflation pin. You might be a little desperate to try this but a bobby pin, a hairpin, a sewing needle, or a ballpoint pen, may do the trick. You should practice extra caution when dealing with bobby pins, hairpins, and sewing needles because it may puncture the ball’s inner bladder. We don’t generally recommend using ballpoint pen ink tubes since it requires a lot of work, and it can be pretty messy trying to get rid of the ink.

The procedure and apparatus mentioned above are some of the best ways to deflate a basketball. We could not say this enough, but we recommend using the inflation pin or the air pressure gauge in the name of safety. There may be other ways to deflate a basketball but to get the most out of a basketball’s life span, use the things that are intended initially to securely deflate a basketball.

Because you read this post, then you may also like our guide on how to inflate a basketball without a needle or pump or our reviews on the best basketball pumps here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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