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At times, when I play basketball, I notice some basektballs are labeled as "indoor", "outdoor", or "indoor/outdoor".

What are the differences between indoor, outdoor, and indoor/outdoor basketballs? Is it a design/material difference? I assume outdoor basketballs are designed with durability in mind, but is there a need for the difference?

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What are the differences between indoor, outdoor, and indoor/outdoor basketballs?

"Indoor" Basketballs

  • Made of full-grain leather

  • Requires being broken-in for optimal use

  • Feels smooth and has superior grip

  • Reliable/consistent bounce characteristics

  • Expensive - due to cost of materials

"All-Surface" Basketballs

  • Made of rubber or synthetic leather

  • Can be used right out of the box

  • Feels rough and has less than superior grip

  • Does not have as reliable/consistent bounce characteristics

  • Not as expensive

Is it a design/material difference?

Yes. Full-grain leather vs. rubber/synthetic leather.

Is there a need for the difference [between "indoor" and "all-surface" basketballs]?

Yes. Basketballs are made specifically indoor use or all-surface (outdoor, indoor/outdoor) use. (1) (2)

Indoor basketballs, when exposed to outdoor elements such as asphalt, dirt, and moisture, wear out sooner than all-surface basketballs.

Using indoor basketballs indoors and all-surface basketballs indoors or outdoors will maximize the life of each type of basketball. The cost to replace an indoor basketball is more than the cost to replace an all-surface basketball.

  • "Requires being broken-in for optimal use" ... What does this mean? – Buksy Mar 6 '13 at 21:28
  • Play with it on the court. – user527 Mar 6 '13 at 21:36

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