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Basketball: Hoop It Up

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, and for good reason. It’s fun for all ages, it’s relatively easy to learn, and it provides a great workout. Best of all (and unlike most other team sports) playing basketball doesn’t require a lot of expensive gear to participate -- all you need is a ball and a hoop.

How to Choose a Basketball

Choosing the right basketball isn’t as straightforward as it might seem, especially if you’re buying the ball as a gift someone else. If you want to make sure you get the best basketball for yourself or a friend, consider the following factors.

Size

Basketballs come in 3 different sizes – 5, 6, and 7. The size you select should mostly be determined by the age of the players who are going to use it. Size 5 balls, for instance, are best for players up to age 11. These balls have a smaller circumference which allows for greater ball control. This in turn helps younger players develop their skills with greater confidence.

Size 6 basketballs are generally best for players aged 12 to 15. This is also the official basketball size of the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) and all senior-level women’s competitions. Size 7 is the official basketball size of the NBA and all senior-level men’s competitions (16 years and older).

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Another important factor when choosing a basketball is whether it will be used inside or outside. Most indoor basketballs are made from genuine leather, while most outdoor-ready basketballs are made from rubber.

Indoor-only basketballs are designed for use on a basketball court or gymnasium floor, and will begin to wear and breakdown almost immediately when used outside. Outdoor-only basketballs, meanwhile, offer vastly inferior ball control characteristics when used indoors. It’s worth noting that genuine leather basketballs often slipper or slick to the touch at first, and require a period of “breaking in” prior to using them in a game.

Smart Basketballs

If you want to truly take your game and your skills development to the next level (or if you just love high-tech toys) consider a smart basketball. These Bluetooth-connected balls are equipped with sensors that track your shots, making them ideal for solo training sessions.

A smart basketball will sync to a mobile app on your smartphone or tablet, so you can see information on your threes, misses, free throws, and more with at-a-glance convenience.

How to Choose a Basketball Hoop

Selecting a basketball hoop depends on where you plan on installing it and whether you’d like to be able to adjust the height later. Here’s a look at the two main types of hoop you can choose from.

Backboard and Hoop Only

If you’re not interested in adjusting the height later, a simple backboard-and-hoop model might be all you need. These mount directly to a wall or ceiling (such as over a garage) and are more or less permanent. In some cases, you may need to purchase a universal mounting bracket to install the backboard safely.

Portable Basketball System

If your preferred playing area isn’t near a suitable wall or ceiling to mount a backboard to, you can opt for a Portable Basketball System. These consist of a base, poll, backboard, and hoop. They can be set up on any flat surface and are also height adjustable, making them great for anyone with growing kids. And, because they’re portable, they can be moved to and from the playing area as needed.