Can a Basketball Explode? | Basketball Overtime (2023)

You may have seen extreme videos of basketballs being dropped from mammoth heights and exploding on the ground below. Was it because of the height that the basketball burst, or was it because of an outside issue? There are a few causes that may force a basketball to explode, more than just dropping it off from massive heights.

Although rare, a basketball can explode if it is stored at a temperature that is too cold or if it is over-inflated to a considerable level beyond the standard PSI. An exploding basketball can be very dangerous and can cause harm to those nearby. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this occurrence.

From novices to NBA veterans, players of every level should know how to properly store a basketball when it is not in use. It does not matter what material the ball is made from or how much it cost—all basketballs should be stored the same way and inflated properly. Read on to find out how to protect yourself from an exploding basketball.

A Basketball Can Explode If It Gets Too Cold

Temperature is the main culprit causing a basketball to explode. On the one hand, a basketball should not be kept in areas that are too cold because cold temperatures lower the pressure of the basketball. Therefore, a basketball left in the cold will lose air and end up deflating quickly. This is because of how gas molecules react in the cold.

  • When a basketball is left out in the cold, gas molecules contract and, as such, will have less energy and move more slowly.
  • This leads to the basketball having lower air pressure, which leads to the ball bouncing lower.
  • This is probably why you had a basketball that looked perfectly inflated but did not bounce high due to the cold temperature.

Adding air can solve this problem, but how much air? This is where things get tricky because if you find your basketball has deflated due to being kept in the cold, you should never pump it up immediately. This is because pumping a basketball in the cold will cause the bladder to explode. Hot temps will not do this but could damage the ball.

What about storing a basketball in higher temperatures? Conversely, higher temperatures will lead to higher air pressure since the gas molecules inside the ball are now expanding and moving around faster as the temperature increases. So, this time when you bounce the ball, it will bounce much higher because of the high temperature.

An Over-Inflated Ball May Also Explode

Temperature is not the only reason a basketball can explode. If you overfill your basketball with an air compressor or similar device, too much air may cause the basketball to explode. You can test this by either rebounded it from six feet above the ground or by simply bouncing the ball—if it bounces to your chest, it has too much air.

This was tested to the extreme when a group of men inflated their basketball to a whopping 50 PSI (for reference, the average is between seven and nine pounds per square inch). Then, they dropped the basketball off of a 415-foot dam with the hopes of the over-inflation causing an explosion. It did explode to an impressive extreme.

Was the monstrous amount of air the cause of the basketball’s explosion? The team tested this theory by dropping a normally-inflated basketball off the same dam, and this time the drop was a success. The men even set a world record for a basketball being shot at the greatest height. Once the inflation was set normally, the ball did not explode. You can see the video below:

This has also been tested only by overinflating the ball without dropping it from a height. The following video is one good example of it.

How to Properly Inflate a Basketball

Obviously, you do not want to inflate your basketball to 50 or 60 PSI under normal circumstances. So, here are some tips to make sure your basketball is properly inflated and will not explode in the middle of your basketball game.

First, you need to make sure you have the right devices, including an inflation needle, air pump, and pressure gauge.

  • Connect an inflation needle to a basketball air pump and moisten the needle so that it will slide into the value with ease. This is so the needle does not damage or puncture the valve, which will cause it to leak air.
  • Make sure the needle is fully inserted into the valve.
  • Begin inflating the ball.
  • If using a pressure gauge, this device can correctly manage the air to make sure the ball is inflated properly between 7 and 9 PSI.
  • If you do not have a pressure gauge, you can test the pressure by dropping the basketball from your shoulders. If it bounces to your hip/waist level, it is properly inflated!
  • Be sure to not only store your basketball in a warm, room temperature area but also inflate it in an area that is indoors so that the basketball does not explode.

If you are using an electric air pump, you need to make sure you are monitoring it closely since it fills up the ball quickly. If you overfill it too fast, it will explode and destroy the basketball.

How to Handle a Basketball So It Does Not Explode

The inside of a basketball has a rubber bladder that holds air when the ball is inflated based on the height of the basketball’s bounce. A basketball should be inflated enough so that it can rebound around 49 to 54 inches in height when it is dropped from six feet above the ground. Therefore, it is important to keep a basketball inflated properly.

Basketballs usually range in size from 28.5 to 30 inches in diameter, and both men’s and women’s basketballs that are 29.5 inches are fully inflated when they weigh around one and ⅜ pounds. This is where maintaining your basketball at the proper amount of inflation gets tricky and could possibly even be dangerous.

If you have a pressure gauge on your air pump, the recommended inflation of a basketball is usually around seven to nine PSI and typically in the middle, around eight and ½ PSI. This is usually the case for all types of basketballs, no matter the outside material. The outside of a basketball is made from different materials, such as:

  • Leather (only determined for college-level play)
  • Rubber
  • Synthetic
  • Composition
  • Full-grain hyde

The outside covering is also called the bladder, and no matter what the outside of a basketball is made of, there are certain circumstances in which a basketball’s rubber bladder could burst and cause a basketball to explode. The best way to avoid an exploding ball is to uphold these tips:

  • Only store a basketball at room temperature.
  • Keep it properly inflated based on the size of the ball and desired rebound height.
  • Do not expose the basketball to harsh elements such as extreme cold or heat, direct sunlight, or rainfall.


Many players will purchase a basketball, keep it in the trunk of their car, and then only take it out for a pickup game in the local park. Now you know there is much more to storing a basketball after purchase. In addition, there are some easy tips to making sure your basketball is properly inflated so that it does not explode during that process.

It is not difficult to make sure a basketball is inflated and stored properly to ensure it will not explode upon impact. Just keeping your basketball stored at room temperature and monitoring its inflation can save you money from a destroyed ball as well as money from a possible trip to the hospital.

If you liked this post, be sure to check “If the Sun Was a Basketball How Big Would the Moon Be?” & “Can Basketball Players Wear Gloves?“.



Can a basketball explode from too much air? ›

It's no surprise that a basketball would explode if you pumped it with a ridiculous amount of air but it's really cool to see it unravel in super slow motion. The ball basically disintegrates and you can see the limp leftovers tear apart from each other as the orange sphere separates from having too much air inside.

What happens if you inflate a basketball too much? ›

NBA rules dictate that basketballs should be inflated to between 7.5 and 8.5 pounds per square inch. If the basketball is inflated below this level, it won't bounce correctly. If it is inflated above this level, the basketball could be damaged or burst.

How much PSI does it take to pop a basketball? ›

A basketball is 9.23” in diameter, which means the surface area is 4*pi*(9.23/2)^2 = 267.64 square inches. A ball is inflated to about 8 PSI, so it would take 2141 pounds of force to crush a ball.

Can you get hurt from an exploding basketball? ›

We report a new mechanism of ocular trauma. A basketball was intentionally overinflated until it exploded, resulting in corneal edema, hyphema, iritis, vitreous hemorrhage, commotio retinae, and a macular hole.

How do you know if your basketball has too much air? ›

A quick way to check if your ball has the proper air pressure is by taking this simple test. Drop your basketball from the height of your shoulder and leave it to bounce. If it bounces up back to the height of your hips, then your ball probably has the appropriate air pressure required to deliver on the court.

Should I deflate my basketball? ›

If you regularly play basketball, keep it full of air and store it indoors at room temperature. If you don't use it regularly, or need to pack it, you can deflate it - but still store it at room temperature.

Can I fill my basketball with air? ›

Best to use for: If you are without a needle and pump, a can of compressed air is probably the quickest and easiest way to fill up your ball. It offers you something very similar to the needle, so getting the air in the ball will be simple.

Does air make a basketball heavier? ›

Once you pump extra air into the ball, packing the air more tightly than normal and stiffening the ball's surface, that additional air will appear on the scale's weight measurement. A properly inflated basketball has about 0.01 pounds of extra air in it, so it'll weigh an extra 0.01 pounds on a scale.

How bouncy should a basketball be? ›

What PSI should an outdoor basketball be? The NBA recommends that the air pressure in a basketball be between 7.5 and 8.5psi to ensure proper play. If your ball is not inflated to these levels, it may not bounce as high or as accurately; this could lead to turnovers and lost games.

Why does my basketball feel heavy? ›

This is because the air inside the ball has mass.

What is the biggest injury in basketball? ›

Top Five Injuries in Basketball
  • Ankle sprains. Nearly half of all basketball-related injuries involve the ankle and foot. ...
  • Thigh bruises. Getting a knee to the thigh can be one of the worst pains for a basketball player. ...
  • Knee injuries. ...
  • Jammed fingers. ...
  • Concussion.
Jun 16, 2022

What are the top 3 injuries in basketball? ›

The most common high school and college basketball injuries that need advanced sports treatment include: Ankle sprains. Achilles tendonitis. Knee tendonitis.

Is there a pump fake in basketball? ›

Basketball. In basketball, it is also known as a shot fake, and usually involves a jump shot, restrained before the feet leave the ground. The pump fake is a fundamental move in basketball, used to cause defenders to jump (known in basketball slang as "lifting" the defender) or be shifted off-balance.

When should I stop pumping my basketball? ›

well the basketball handbook states that officials at basketball games must perform a test in which u hold the ball out at chest level and drop it. if it bouces back to your waist level then its good. if it bounces too high take a little air out and try again.

Can you pump a Spalding Never Flat basketball? ›

Yes. After one year, if your NEVERFLAT® is in need of air, simply remove the valve cover and inflate with a pump. Return the valve cover to the valve area after inflation.

Why is my basketball losing air so quickly? ›

Your basketball may have dirt, or something else stuck in the valve that needs to be cleaned out to help it seal properly. If you have a small leak, you can melt the hole shut with a hot melt, patch it with a kit, or you may have to resow the seam that has been broken and needs to be resealed.

Do basketballs lose their bounce? ›

Of course, an inflated ball won't keep bouncing with the same force for very long. Each time the ball impacts the ground it loses a bit more energy, until so much of it's energy is spent that it stops bouncing completely.

Will a basketball sink or float? ›

Whether or not an object has buoyancy depends mostly on two factors: the amount of water an object displaces and the density of an object. A pebble is dense and displaces very little water, therefore, it sinks. However, a basketball is not very dense and displaces more water; therefore, it floats.

What happens if you leave a basketball in the sun? ›

The rise and fall in temperature, wet weather and the blistering sun can play havoc not only with the colour of your basketball, but leaving your basketball out in the elements can ruin the quality of the ball, warp its shape and make it lose its grip.

Can you pump up a ball at a gas station? ›

Many gas stations have air pumps that you can use to fill up your deflating tires. But, if you have a pump needle or straw/stirrer with you, you can also use these powerful pumps to inflate your ball... or rather balls. You can try and fill as many as you can before your time runs out.

Why is NCAA ball so orange? ›

According to Wilson, the new "Electric Orange" color in the Evo NXT allows players and fans to easily track the ball on the court, making it less likely to lose sight of the ball in darker settings. The NCAA does have rules over the ball's color and shape.

Is it easier to throw a deflated basketball? ›

Unfortunately, pumping the ball with more air won't help you shoot from farther away, because the air pressure only helps the ball bounce farther after contacting an object. In fact, more air pressure might make it harder to shoot because the basketball will bounce off the rim harder, making it less likely to go in!

How heavy is the NBA ball? ›

Size 7. Size 7 basketballs measure 29.5” in circumference and have a standard weight of 22 oz. Size 7 basketballs are the standard ball size for most men's professional basketball associations, as well as men's college and high school basketball leagues.

How does air affect a basketball? ›

The air inside a basketball is like a tightly coiled spring. The tighter the spring, the more energy it has to bounce back up. Similarly, the more air inside the ball, the harder it pushes back against the ground, springing the ball higher into the air.

How does air pressure affect a basketball shot? ›

A: As far as shooting goes, the air pressure in a basketball has little effect on its trajectory. On the other hand it may affect how the ball bounces. A really low pressured ball will probably not bounce as high as one fully pressured.

How do you drain air from basketball? ›

How to Deflate a Basketball
  1. Deflate basketball by placing a sharp object inside the valve opening and pushing down to release air. ...
  2. Or use an inflator and push the inflator nozzle onto the valve opening to release all of the air insides.
  3. Remove inflator once full deflation has been reached (~12 lbs pressure)
Dec 17, 2022

What makes a basketball bouncy? ›

Basketballs bounce because of the pressurized air inside of them, gravity and Newton's Laws of Motion. When you dribble a basketball, your hand and gravity both push the ball towards the ground (Law #1). As it drops, the ball accelerates and speeds up (Law #2).

Why do hard balls bounce higher? ›

A hard surface, like concrete or hardwood, hardly absorbs any, so most of the kinetic energy of the fall goes into bouncing the ball back up. A soft surface, like grass or carpet, absorbs more energy from the fall, so there's less left to push the ball back up, and it bounces pretty badly.

Is it harder to shoot a deflated basketball? ›

Unfortunately, pumping the ball with more air won't help you shoot from farther away, because the air pressure only helps the ball bounce farther after contacting an object. In fact, more air pressure might make it harder to shoot because the basketball will bounce off the rim harder, making it less likely to go in!

Does the size of a basketball affect your shot? ›

The results show that the introduction of the size 6 basketball did not lead to improvement in shooting accuracy (the opposite was found for free throws), although the number of three-point shots increased.

How much air should be in a 29.5 basketball? ›

The NBA recommends that the air pressure in a basketball be between 7.5 and 8.5psi to ensure proper play.

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