The first basketball was used in 1892, hand-made by James A. Naismith and had a soccer-like shape with six panels stitched together: five white and one red. This ball was not very effective, so Naismith developed a peach basket which he attached to the bottom of a 10-foot backboard on Christmas Day in 1891.

As years passed, the game took its own form and shape. In 1984, Naismith wanted a proper basketball for the play so he inquired A.G Spalding and Bros to design a ball. The final layout that was crafted was based on a leather ball that was sewn together with laces, having a rubber bladder inside. The ball’s color was brown and it weighed less than 20 ounces.

Synthetic materials such as rubber and microfiber composites were used for the construction of basketball in the late 1990’s. The balls made by these materials gained rapid acceptance in a modern-day basketball game and are still being used.

Characteristics of the Ball

The size of basketballs and their material have changed over time due to technological improvements and strategic changes in the game itself. A basketball consists mainly of four major parts: cover, bladder, lining, and outer cover made from leather with synthetic materials such as rubber added for grip.


The cover is the outermost layer of a basketball and is made from rubber or leather. A leather cover is more expensive, and it lasts longer than a synthetic cover. However, the leather may absorb water and air less quickly than synthetic materials. The synthetic covers are not as protective as leather, but the balls with these types of covers are lighter and more durable compared to those with leather covers; they are also resistant to ultraviolet light damage.


The bladder is a rubber layer inside the ball that acts as a cushion for the thick outer rubber cover and lining. This is where the pressure from the air chambers is stored, so the ball bounces back to its original form after each shot. The air chambers can be made of either plastic or rubber.


The lining is the inner layer of the basketball and creates more bounce from each shot. Layers of latex produced by small pieces of fabric are glued together to create a more elastic surface. In recent years, synthetic materials have been used due to their abrasion resistance and durability compared to natural latex.

Outer Cover

The outer cover is made of leather since it creates a more durable surface for shooting and dribbling. Synthetics with leather-like characteristics are available, but they do not provide the same feel that real leather provides.

Types of Materials Used to Make a Basketball

Basketballs (also known as balls) are made with various materials including leather, fabric, rubber, vinyl, plastic, cardboard and metal. Materials used to construct basketballs can vary depending on the design of the ball. 


Leather is used to produce high-quality leather balls that are durable and affordable. These leather balls are made from strong, thick leather such as cowhide and kangaroo skin. Leather basketballs used by professional basketball players are made from kangaroo skin because it is lightweight and avoids bouncing.


Mesh is used in basketballs to increase the air pressure and keep the ball inflated. The mesh is made from tiny cardboard threads that are covered in cloth. These threads hold air inside the ball where a rubber bladder would not be able to maintain air pressure. Sometimes, a “paddle” or “seat” is added to the bottom of the ball for better grip and feel. Most of these balls are made with 24-mesh fabric or 15-mesh leather and cost around $1 each.


Rubber is used in basketballs to ensure that the ball will not lose air pressure. Rubber basketballs are composed of a rubber shell and a rubber bladder that is made from synthetic rubber. The bladder keeps the air in the ball by acting as a seal between the outer layer and the inner walls of the ball. A plastic valve is placed inside this layer to make it easier to inflate or deflate the ball. These balls are typically inflated with an air pump and can reach up to eight pounds per square inch.


Nylon is a textile fiber that stretches easily, making it suitable for making stronger basketballs. Nylon is also lightweight and durable, making it ideal for use in basketballs. Nylon is stronger than cotton but less flexible than polyester fiber.


Fabric is made up of thread that is woven together to make fabric. Fabric covers the rubber bladder of the ball. Basketballs that are made from fabric can be very soft and very durable, but over time, they are prone to punctures to the outer covering.


As mentioned earlier, the materials used to construct basketballs change over time. Over the years, new materials were introduced to make balls lighter, more durable and easily inflated or deflated. New materials are also being added to basketballs to provide a better grip and feel for players. In addition, technological improvements in some of these materials have enabled them to be used in synthetic balls that are easier to inflate or deflate when compared to natural rubber balls.

Given the different materials used to produce basketballs, buyers should take their time to choose a ball that is best for their needs. Those who have multiple options to choose from can benefit from purchasing a basketball online to test the different materials used to make the ball before buying.

Well, that ends the topic on the details of a basketball. Hope your purchase will be a good one and work wonders for you!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am a beginner who wants to play basketball on weekends. What is the best size and type of basketball that should purchase?

A: The right size of your ball depends on your height. If you wear size 11 and above shoes (29.5 inches to 31.5 inches in length), then you can opt for an adult basketball. If you are shorter, then youth basketball is more suitable for you. 

Q: Will there be a significant difference between the quality of balls made from different materials?

A: There is not much of a difference between different materials. While some balls made from natural rubber may last longer than cotton, other balls made from nylon or polyester will be equally strong and durable.

Q: What are the pros and cons of using different types of basketballs in terms of their use?

A: There are many advantages to using different types of basketballs. Some balls have better grips for players, while others are more lightweight and durable.

Q: What’s the difference between the various types of basketballs?

A: The differences can be based on several factors, including the materials used for making them. For instance, a rubber ball is more durable than nylon and polyester balls. It is also easier to inflate and deflate because it does not need to be lubricated before inflating as well as deflation. This makes it perfect for playing in various settings like outdoors or indoors with air compressors.