When your child starts playing basketball at school or on an extra curricular team, the equipment is likely provided to them by the school or organization. So, when it comes time to buy them a basketball to further their skills at home and between team practices, you might notice that basketballs come in different sizes. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for it might be a bit confusing to decide what size would be best to buy but there are some easy guidelines to follow.

Choosing the right basketball size

Though using the right size basketball hasn’t shown a huge difference in a player’s ability to perform skills like dribbling, shooting and passing, ensuring the proper size of basketball is used can help overall skill development. Encouraging players to use the right size ball for their age group helps them get used to following FIBA guidelines from the get go.

Boys and girls leagues will both use the same size ball until they reach the U15 level when recommendations change a bit. Since until U15 many teams are co-ed, using the same ball works well. But once players hit the U15 level teams tend to separate and become primarily male or female so it’s possible for leagues to have each group use a ball that’s more suited to them.

  • For boys and girls in U10 – U12 look for a size 5 basketball. The 27.5” diametre ball is easier for small arms and hands to handle and will weigh a bit less than larger balls, making shooting easier to learn as well.

  • In U13 and U14 leagues boys and girls will both move to a size 6 ball. At 28.5 inches in diametre the small increase in ball size helps kids to improve their skills with a slightly bigger ball and increased weight, moving them closer to an adult sized FIBA regulation ball.

  • In the U15-U19 league players will use the ball size that is considered regulation for adult basketball leagues. This level is where men and women start playing with different sized balls. Starting in U15:

    • males will move to a size 7 ball with a 29.5-inch diametre

    • females with stay with a size 6 ball and a 28.6-inch diametre

But can’t we just lower the net?

Lowering the net may seem like a solution to help kids get the ball up to the rim (rather than focusing on ball size) as players move up through the age levels in basketball, but this isn’t recommended. Lowering the net should only be done for players who are under 8 years of age when they are still learning the basic concept of shooting and sinking the ball. Once players have managed to learn this concept, the net should be set to regulation height and an age-appropriate ball used. A smaller ball will still be lighter and easier for players to throw, so there shouldn’t be an issue with players being able to get the ball into the basket.

Competitive basketball has standard rules

In Canada, in an effort to create an even playing field that encourages all basketball players to play by the same rules and regulations, the FIBA rules are used. Using the same set of rules for all youth basketball programs helps players to learn the same game as their peers in other areas, helping to reduce confusion and improve overall understanding of how the game is played.

FIBA, or the International Basketball Federation, is an association comprised of basketball associations around the world that works to govern the sport worldwide. They have created a central set of rules and equipment & facility requirements that participating countries can abide by in order to effectively take part in the larger world of basketball. FIBA organizes international competitions, helps to regulate the transferring of basketball players from one country to another and regulates the appointment of referees.

Basketball is great for kids of all ages

Regardless of how old your child is or when they start taking a liking to basketball, it is a great sport to help them get active, learn discipline, make friends and even improve in school. While they’re at it, it’s helpful that they use the right ball size as they develop and grow!