A basketball is the ball used in the game of the same name. The game was invented by physical education teacher James Naismith as a way to keep athletes fit over the winter months. The first ever game of basketball was played with a soccer ball, but a custom made ball was soon manufactured for the game. The materials and techniques for producing has undergone many changes throughout the years.
What is a basketball made of?
The earliest basketball drew inspiration from the soccer balls of the time. It was made out of leather panels that were stitched together to form a ball. Inside of this was a rubber bladder that provided the necessary inflation. A lining of cloth was added to the outside to support the leather.
The first molded ball was invented in 1942 and this meant there was no longer a need for stitching the ball. At this time a basketball was still made of an inner rubber bladder which was covered in leather with a small hole for inflating the ball.
Modern basketballs still have a rubber bladder, which is often wrapped in layers of fiber. This is then covered in rubber or a synthetic composite designed to provide better grip and feel along with moisture absorbency. Leather is still used in some cases and is still used in some professional leagues. The outer layer still contains a number of panels with “ribs,” but they are no longer stitched together.
Did you know?
Each basketball competition has specific specifications for the size, weight, pressure and even color of the a basketball. Generally speaking a size 7 basketball is used for men’s competition and a size 6 is used for women’s competition. Manufactures must submit their balls for testing to be certified as an official International Basketball Federation (FIBA) manufacturer.
Spalding has been the official ball maker of the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 1983. In 2006 they introduced a new ball with a microfiber composite surface, but many players complained about the new ball and the old leather model was reintroduced in 2007.