How Much Air Pressure Should a Basketball Have? (PSI)

Basketball is a sport that relies on speed and agility. Players dribbling balls back and forth while trying to shoot them through the hoops takes lots of skill.

The keyword for this sport is the word dribble. As the ball is passed from one player to the next, the quality of the ball – though often ignored – matters.

When talking about ball quality, one of the important things to consider is how “hard” a ball should be. This quality has a lot to do with air pressure. Just how much air pressure should you put in a basketball?

How Much Air Pressure Is The Right Amount of Pressure?

There are many units of measurement that can be used for pressure. There are Pascal (Pa), atmospheric pressure (ATM), technical atmospheres (AT), Torr, Bar, and pounds per square inch (PSI). For this blog, though, we will be using PSI which is the system most of us are used to.

Based on the rules of the NBA, the basketball to be used during any game should be inflated to anywhere between 7.5 – 8.5 psi.

Why The Air Pressure Is Important

Now that you know how much air pressure is needed in a basketball, the better question is why? Does it really matter if your ball is inflated anywhere under or over the recommended amount of pressure?

The short of it is YES. Having the right amount of pressure in your ball will affect the way it bounces and your game as well. Basketballs, after all, are driven because of high pressure.

To explain a bit further, you can try imagining a balloon being filled with air. Imagine how this balloon slowly takes shape and how it slowly becomes easier to handle as air starts to occupy the inside of the balloon.

The same can be said about basketballs. As air starts to fill the inside of a basketball, pressure is exerted from within. This gives the ball the right degree of firmness that it needs to get bouncing.

This is probably made obvious whenever you try to bounce a “flat” basketball. This, of course, will probably not amount to anything much.

In the interest of fair play, too, the NBA sets the amount of pressure at that given range since it is fully aware that the way a ball bounces has a lot to do with the amount of pressure it has.

Having too little pressure makes it harder for the player to dribble the ball around the court. It makes the ball heavier, resulting in a bounce that may be too slow. This may add to the exhaustion that the player will already be feeling during the entire game.

On the plus side, though, an underinflated ball will be easier to sink into the basket due to its added weight.

Having too much pressure makes the ball too bouncy, making it too difficult to dribble and control. It also will be more difficult to shoot given the fact that the ball can actually bounce off the basket as well.

Filling your basketball with too much air can overstretch the ball and can cause leaks in the area where the valve is — its weakest spot.

How To Know If You Have The Right Amount of Pressure In The Ball

Of course, the best way to measure the amount of pressure in the ball is to have an air pressure gauge.

In the absence of one, though, how do you know if you have the right amount of pressure in your basketball?

The last thing you would want to use to check for pressure is the basketball’s shape. Since the ball is made of rigid material, it won’t lose much shape even without the right amount of air pressure.

One way to test, though, is to bounce a ball after initially filling it with air.

After filling up the ball, lift it up to your face level and let the ball drop to the ground. The ball should be able to bounce right back up to the level of your waste if it contains the right amount of pressure.

You can try dropping the ball from around six feet to be more precise. The ball should be able to bounce back to around a height of anywhere between 49 – 54 inches. Try measuring this height range against a wall and mark that range with tape.

If it drops below this range, you may have to add a bit more air to your ball. If it bounces above that range, you will have to deflate your ball a bit.

When doing this test, make sure that you are doing it on the actual court where you are supposed to play. The type of floor can also affect the bounce of the ball, so the results of the test can differ depending on the floor material where you do this test.

How Do You Go About Filling a Basketball With Air?

Now that you know the right amount of air that you need to fill up a basketball, you may also want to know the proper way of getting the ball filled up with air.

When filling up the ball, consider some of these tips, which others may tend to ignore. Not only do they help you fill your ball up more efficiently.

These, too, help ensure that your ball doesn’t end up damaged during the procedure.

  • Get an air pump. You can get hold of these in any sporting goods store or even online.
  • Look for the inflation needle that comes with the pump and connect its flat end to the pump’s opening or the hose attached to the pump.
  • Look for the site of the inflation valve on the basketball.
  • Wet the inflation needle with a bit of water or with your saliva. This will make it easier for you to insert the needle into the valve.
  • Insert the needle until around half of its length is inserted into the ball.
  • Start pumping until the ball has become firm but not rock hard.
  • Pull out the needle, and then try measuring the pressure with a gauge to see if you have reached the desired volume. You may also try to test the ball by bouncing it a couple of times in case you don’t have a pressure gauge on hand.

To Conclude

Basketball is indeed a game that requires a lot of energy and skill. There are the small, often ignored, things that contribute to the player’s success, not to mention the success of the entire gameplay.

One of the most overlooked things is the amount of air pressure needed to inflate the ball.

Too much pressure affects gameplay by giving the player less control over how the ball should be handled.

Having too little of it may get the player easily tired and make the whole 48 minutes of game time seem like forever.

The bottom line is for you to make sure to have that ball filled with just the right amount of air so that you can really enjoy playing the hoops in the way that it should be enjoyed.

Chris Davis

I'm Chris, the guy behind BasketballJoy. I've played basketball for 20+ years and have been a full-time coach since 2017. On this website, I share everything I know about the most beautiful sport in the world - Basketball.

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