After the invention of basketball in the late 18th century, players that didn’t qualify to join the teams began playing in the streets in the early 19th century.
The game would become popular in the 1950s thanks to Holcombe Rucker, who organized a neighborhood tournament.
Years later, some best street players would join the NBA, and mainstream media houses popularized the game worldwide.
Whether you’re an upcoming basketballer, a professional, want to have fun, or a parent seeking information, the kind of ball you use will determine the experience you get in street basketball.
In this article, you’ll find the difference between basketball and street basketball; and the best alternative between composite and rubber balls. Plus, you’ll learn how to select the best street basketball ball.
What Is the Difference Between Basketball and Street Basketball?
Street basketball is outdoor basketball that you can play, provided you have a ball and a hoop. It’s a freestyle game that you can play on half a court or the driveway.
The game doesn’t have rules and is not formally structured, while the styles vary depending on your teammates or opponents. However, some states in the US have organized street basketball tournaments.
So, how is it different from basketball?
Basketball is played by two teams of five players each, has strict rules and a ref to enforce them, unlike a street basketball which may not have a referee to call double dribbles, offensive fouls, and other restrictions.
The beauty of street basketball is the opportunity to showcase your talents and skills if you’re a professional without the fear of losing a contract. Some upcoming players have made a name for themselves out of the street basketballs earning contracts worth a lot of money.
To play street basketball effectively, you need a rubber or composite leather ball designed for the outdoors.
Composite Leather or Rubber One?
The composite leather ball is made of artificial leather. It gives you the feel of real leather but better grip and control than a leather ball. You can use it both outdoors and indoors.
On the other hand, rubber balls are made of rubber and designed purely for outdoor courts.
The choice of the best one depends on your skills, budget, and preference. They’re both great for outdoor basketball.
Composite leather balls are excellent for skilled players and last longer on smooth outdoor courts.
Rough surfaces like concrete can wear it down quickly.
Compared to rubber balls, composite leather balls are less durable. But if you’re after a shooting touch and better control, they’re the best.
Check this professional street basketball that allows you to use for both indoors and outdoors:
Related post: How to Choose the Best Indoor Leather Basketball?
Rubber basketball balls are common because they’re beginner-friendly and cheaper than composite leather balls.
They have a tough surface making them durable and sturdy for hard courts. They don’t lose their grip because of dust; on the contrary, it keeps the grip longer.
In addition, rubber balls offer convenience because they are waterproof, excellent for outdoor courts or a swimming pool. On the flip side, they don’t provide a smooth feel or good control like a composite leather ball.
Here is a cheap rubber street basketball ball that are highly recommend:
How to Select the Best Street Basketball Ball?
Basketballs vary in design, and not every ball is the perfect fit for you. Below, you’ll find a list of pointers that can guide you in choosing the best ball for street basketball;
Size and weight
Basketball balls vary in size based on gender, age, and level of expertise. The standard size of a ball for men is size 7, which translates to 29.5 inches ( 75cm) in circumference with a diameter of 24cm and 22 ounces (623.69 grams).
This 29.5″ street basketball bal is mainly designed for men:
Size 6 measures 28.5 inches (72.5cm) in circumference and weighs about 20 ounces ( 566.99 grams). It’s recommended for women and high schoolers – both boys and girls.
Check this women and youth use street basketball ball:
Size 5 has a circumference of 27. 5 inches and a weight of 17 ounces (481.9 grams) for ages nine to eleven.
Five to eight-year-olds can handle size 4, whose circumference measures 25.5 inches and weighs 14 ounces (396.89 grams).
Size 3 is recommended for four to eight-year-olds. It has a circumference of 22 inches and a weight of 10 oz (283.49 grams).
Toddlers can use size one, which is super light at 8 oz ( 226.79 grams) and 6 inches round.
Women use a slightly smaller ball than men because of physical differences. Men are generally stronger, bigger, taller, and faster than women. Plus, on average, women’s hands are smaller.
The wind might affect a lighter ball since you’re playing outdoors, while you might fall short of the hoop when shooting a heavier ball.
The Environment of your Playing Area
Outdoor basketball surfaces vary from asphalt, concrete, tiles to artificial turf grass. Most people use their driveways made of asphalt or concrete to play basketball. Community courts use this kind of flooring too.
While a concrete surface can provide an excellent bounce for your basketball, it can quickly ruin the ball. Compared to hard concrete, asphalt is much softer. However, both offer a good grip and bounce.
Rubber or composite leather balls are best for concrete and asphalt surfaces because they are durable. The rubber material is waterproof and can withstand hard surfaces for long without tearing. Composite leather is also weather-resistant and can persevere the hard surface.
Softness and grip
When it comes to street basketball, most ball manufacturers focus on how sturdy the ball will be. As a result, softness can be compromised.
However, you can’t overlook grip and softness because your hands might blister, get cuts, or you might fail to have a good touch when you shoot.
The softer a ball is, the nicer the feel on your hands. A softball is easy to grip. In turn, it gives you confidence, and you experience better performance when you have a good grip of the ball. Grip enables you to palm a ball; hence you gain control of the ball and dribble it better.
A leather composite ball is soft and offers a comfortable grip allowing you to dribble and maneuver the ball. But it might feel slippery when you get too sweaty.
It might feel uncomfortable when a ball bounces differently from how you want it, not to mention it may affect how you make different moves or passes.
Bounce consistency is affected by the surface of street play and the ball’s material.
Some outdoor balls deflate easily, too, affecting the bounce consistency. It forces you to keep on adding pressure which might inconvenience you.
Rubber balls are excellent for street basketball because of their bounce consistency. On the other hand, a composite ball is not your best bet if you’re banking on a good consistent bounce. They may also deflate easily, unlike rubber balls.
If you play street basketball, you’ll realize that you tend to sweat easily because of the temperature levels. Consequently, your hands become wet and the sweat makes the basketball slippery.
A little moisture helps improve grip in street play. That’s why some high-quality street balls have moisture grip functionality to ensure you have the right grip. Plus, they can absorb excess moisture to prevent the ball from slipping off.
Composite leather balls have microfibers that absorb excess moisture while, at the same time, the leather-like top surface offers a moisture grip.
A street basketball ball may last six months to more than a year, depending on the material’s durability.
The outdoor terrain is rough, dirty, dusty, and moist. It’s not a surprise to have your ball damaged by sharp pebbles too.
A durable ball is made of high-quality material to ensure it withstands the pounding against tough surfaces and is resilient against harsh weather.
Most outdoor balls are made of high-quality rubber that is waterproof or composite leather. They are strong materials that can maintain grip or last close to a year.
However, how you care for the ball can shorten or lengthen its lifespan. Keeping a ball out in harsh weather may cause your ball to wear out quickly. Proper maintenance is key to keeping your ball last longer.
How to Choose Suitable Brand Based on Your Skills?
Many people look at diverse factors in selecting the brand of basketball that suits their skills. Some of these important factors include Grip, Bounce, Durability, and Balance.
The 3 major types of street basketballs are Spalding Basketball, Wilson Basketball, and Nike Basketball.
The professionalism of many street basketball players tells on how they choose their best brand of basketballs.
Many professionals choose Spalding Basketball because it is made of synthetic rubber.
Though it is hard and heavy, it is most preferred because it provides a stable grip regardless of dirt, water, or mud. Its hard nature also makes it easy to bounce. The bounce allows to easily dribble while bouncing the ball, hence the balance as well.
It is also durable because of its synthetic rubber outer shell that protects it from wear and tear. A physical factor considered to probably rate it the best used for professionals is its nice overall look.
The recommended Spalding basketball is as follow:
On the other hand, intermediate street basketball players consider Wilson Basketball to be better.
The NBA has experienced a change in their usual basketball, and their reviews pointed out that the Wilson is not as better as the Spalding.
The Wilson is a leather-made ball with varying sizes, softer surfaces, unlike Spalding. However, it is suitable for constant practice both indoor and outdoor. Because it has a softer leather body, mistakes are not easily observed. Hence, to intermediate basketball players, it is better used for practice.
Check this Wilson street basketball with excellent grip and bounce:
For beginners, Nike is mostly selected as the best choice on many counts.
Nike Basketball is made softer than both Wilson and Spalding. It makes it easy for beginners to learn the skill of bouncing basketballs till their bouncing skills are excellent.
It provides beginners the platform to start learning from a crude level. Beginners who perform relatively well using Nike Basketball would find it easier to use Spalding basketball.
It also has obvious lines on the body which provides beginners spots to fix their fingers while playing basketball. The mastery of finger placements helps them develop an excellent gripping skill when they handle the Wilson or Spalding basketball.
Get this cost-effective street basketball ball for beginners:
How is Street Ball Different from Regular Basketball Games?
In streetball, there are no officials, unlike in the regular basketball game. The game is oftentimes played on just half a court and most times, less than the 5-on-5 teams.
Regular basketball on the other hand makes use of the full court and with the exact 5-0n-5 teams.
Fouls are self-called in streetball while referees exist in regular basketball games to whistle when there is a foul from any player.
In streetball, there are no offensive fouls, unlike regular basketball. Also, the team that made the shot gets the ball back in streetball unlike regular basketball.
In streetball, shots are only worth 1 point, and 2 points from 3 range. On the other hand, in the regular basketball game, shots are worth 2 points and 3 points from 3 range.
3. Playing Style:
When playing streetball, it is not important to know everyone you are playing with. It is highly likely that it even is the first time and only time the team would unite playing together.
However, regular basketball warrants familiarity and understanding of each player member of the team. Also, no one has a set position in streetball in streetball playing; everyone wants to be the point guard.
On the other hand, it is necessary to maintain positions in regular basketball playing.
In streetball playing, there are no off-ball screens. There is also a lot of isolation plays and flashy dribbling.
In regular basketball playing, the way to team win is coordinated playing and if possible, little or no dribbling.
There is more 1-on-1 defense in streetball while on the other hand, regular basketball playing frowns at it. Rather, it does more of switching or zoning.
Some people who play street ball get tired easily as against how it is seen in regular basketball.
As an opposing team would decide to attack, what makes a team good is to play the defense. However, when both teams play the attack, the professionalism is lost. The effort level to defend in streetball is more random than in the regular basketball game.
Unlike the regular basketball game, everyone competes for their paychecks and next contract in streetball playing.
How to Take Care of Your Street Basketball Ball?
Whether the basketball is made of leather, synthetic materials, or full-grain hide, it is important to take proper care of it. To take care of your basketball:
a. Store at room temperature:
High temperature (heat) affects the quality of materials and causes their ruin within a short period of time. Basketballs should be kept at room temperature and not significantly higher or lower.
b. Keep the right amount of air in the basketball:
On average, balls newly manufactured are inflated to about 8lbs per square inch. On the ball, sometimes, instructions are written to prescribe how much air must be supplied into the ball. Even at production, the ball is drop-tested to ascertain its prescribed air pressure.
To manually blow a relatively accurate amount of air into basketballs, note that the ball should bounce back about two-thirds of the way back up from which it was dropped.
c. Clean after use:
It is relevant to note that dirt and debris should be wiped off the basketball with a damp cloth each time after use.
Also, mild soap and warm water should be used. On no account should the basketball be soaked; this may also damage some makeup materials of the basketball.
On the other hand, to make your basketball durable:
d. Do not expose to harsh weather conditions:
Exposure of basketballs to cold, heat, direct sunlight, rain, or other harsh elements steadily damages the basketball. The basketball should be at sundry times kept away from harsh weather conditions for durability.
e. Do not multitask your basketball:
Some people play their basketballs with their legs as footballs or throw them over walls like lawn tennis balls, or over surfaces like table tennis balls. These all have adverse effects on the durability of the basketball. Let the basketball be a basketball.
Use This To Improve Your Street Play Skills
1. A street basketball goal and hoop allows you to practice with your neighbors:
Practice is important to hone your basketball skills and since basketball is a team game, one of the best and most fun things you can do is to play with friends and neighbors on the street if you don’t have the time to use a court or if you have one close to where you live.
You may purchase a basketball hoop that could be attached to an open space, where you can play. You may also find a pole that allows you the flexibility of attaching the hoop or goal to a fixed position, and you can simply invite friends to play with you.
Consistent play and practice will help you master your basketball skills and also get conversant with how the game is played.
2. Improve your shooting with street basketball arcade:
Basketball is a game that thrives on rules, but it becomes more fun when you master your shooting skills, cos what’s a good play without scoring goals?
If you have access to a street arcade machine (Check the suitable street arcade machine here), you can master your shooting skills on different steps counts.
A street arcade machine allows you to shoot balls into a moving basket, in four different levels of play. It challenges you to master your shooting skills, by helping you to practice as you do your best to beat your previous score with each move of the basket.
The machine shows you your highest score, and all you’re required to do is to keep shooting the balls to see how better you can get at shooting a basketball. The thrilling thing about the arcade is that it helps you to integrate fun into your practice, such that you don’t see it as hard work, and then get tired easily at it.
When you consistently practice with a shooting ball, you can be sure that you do amazingly well, the next time you’re on the court as a team player.
3. Practice frequently with professionals players on the street basketball court
You know it’s time to step up your game when you’re playing so well around friends and family, but you’re really not sure of how good you are until you are in the same court with professional basketball players.
Or, you think you can’t pull that off? Of course, you can! If you’ve been playing basketball on the street with friends, or in make-shift basketball courts, it’s time to move the standard higher.
Ideally, a standard basketball court is 95ft. long and 50ft. wide, hence if you’ve been practicing in courts of lesser dimension, then it’s time to level up.
Playing in a standard court allows you to master the endurance and flexibility required to be a top-rated street basketballer. It further helps you to see your skills for what it truly is, and soon enough you’re out there, doing wonders with your shooting and scoring skills, and way better than when you started out.
4. A suitable pair of shoes and a jersey are necessary:
The right pair of shoes and jerseys are important for improving your basketball skills, as your comfort and flexibility all play an important role in your flexibility and overall game performance. The best shoes for basketball must have the right up sole height – that helps to give you agility, ankle support, and stability.
The up sole is equally important to give your feet the right cushioning, without applying unhealthy pressure on your feet. A good shoe (Check the most comfortable basketball shoes here) should have a relatively flat outsole that helps you to balance and maneuver conveniently. And they must be aesthetically pleasing, and a perfect size on your feet, so it enhances your performance instead of impeding it.
The best types of jerseys are those designed for in-game use, ensure you don’t choose a jersey that’s designed for casual wear or team identification, rather than team performance.
A quality jersey should be breathable, made from quality moisture-wicking material. A good jersey (Check the most breathable jersey here) should have a good fit on your body, and shouldn’t feel too loose or too tight, as this could greatly impede your agility and performance.
Famous Street Basketball Courts
Halocombe Rucker Park:
The Halocombe Rucker Park is a basketball court located eastward the former Polo Grounds site. The park is in Harlem, Manhattan, New York.
It is a well-renowned park that has been in existence for over 70 years established to create hope for less-fortunate kids and to take them off the streets, building academic careers in them. It has produced notable players who have transitioned to the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“The Cage” otherwise known as the West Fourth Street Courts, are famous non-regulation size public athletic venues for beginners in basketball.
The Cage is situated in Greenwich Village of New York City. The Cage has also produced notable National Basketball Association (NBA) players. It also attracts more significant spectators than Rucker Park during their leagues.