Beach balls and basketballs are both spherical balls used for recreation, but they serve very different purposes. Here are 11 key differences between beach balls and basketballs:
- Weight – Beach balls are feather light at 1-3 oz versus 20-22 oz for basketballs.
- Size – Larger 40-60 cm diameter beach balls versus 24 cm basketballs.
- Bounce – Beach balls bounce erratically, while basketballs bounce straight up.
- Materials – Plastic beach balls versus rubber basketballs.
- History – Beach balls originated in the 1930s, while basketballs came about in the 1890s.
- Speed – Beach balls float on air versus basketballs thrown at high speeds.
- Serving Speed – Beach balls have no serves versus basketball serves over 60 mph.
- Records – No speed records for beach balls versus basketball’s 72 mph record throw.
- Storage – Deflate beach balls when storing them versus keeping basketballs inflated.
- Brands – Major beach ball brands are SwimWays, Ultamate, and Tachikara versus Spalding, Wilson and Rawlings dominating basketballs.
- Aging – Old beach balls can get brittle and burst over time versus well maintained basketballs retaining performance.
In this article, we will compare and contrast beach balls versus basketballs in depth. By the end, you’ll understand why their designs are so different.
Difference in Weight
The most noticeable difference is beach balls are incredibly light at just 1-3 ounces. This allows them to float gently through the air.
Basketballs have substantial weight at 20-22 ounces. This gives stability for dribbling and passing. The weight allows controlled flight.
So beach balls weigh less than 5% of a basketball – almost buoyant!
Difference in Size
Along with the varied weight comes a size difference. Beach balls have a much larger diameter on average.
Regulation beach ball sizes range from 40 to 60 centimeters across. Their big size makes them easy to hit while playing recreational games.
Basketballs are more compact at just 24 centimeters (9.5 inches) in diameter. The smaller size affords ball control.
Difference in Bounce
The different materials in beach balls and basketballs give them very contrasting bounces.
Basketballs bounce straight up thanks to the internal air pressure and rubber surface. Beach balls bounce erratically in any direction off the plastic skin.
So for predictable bounces, basketballs are the clear winner. But beach balls can be more fun for random bounces!
Here’s a video that shows you the kind of bounce to expect from a basketball:
The varied bounce is related directly to the different materials used to construct each ball.
Basketballs contain air bladders wrapped in rubber along with nylon windings. Beach balls are simply thin plastic skins filled with air.
The rubber basketball allows for grip and predictability. The bare plastic beach skin creates mayhem.
History of Both Balls
Basketballs have been around for over a century, while beach balls are a more modern invention.
The first basketballs emerged around 1892 as an indoor sport. Beach balls originated in the 1930s for outdoor summertime play.
So basketballs had decades to develop before beach balls came along as recreational accessories.
Speed They Travel
During actual use, beach balls and basketballs see vastly different speeds.
Beach balls just waft on the breeze during gentle beach play. They have no throwing function.
Basketballs fly all over the court at up to 50-60 mph during competitive play. Passes zip fast.
So beach balls meander slowly while basketballs scream by at high velocities.
How Fast is a Serve?
Related to speed, basketball players can hurl fast serves, while beach balls aren’t served at all.
Basketball players can throw serves over 60 mph using overhand passes. Beach balls simply get batted into play.
The beach ball construction prevents any sort of high-speed service. Lacking structure, beach balls cannot get thrown overhead.
So basketball serves dominate beach balls here.
What is the World Record Speed of Both?
This speed difference is also seen in the world records.
Basketball’s world record for a thrown serve is 72 mph, set by Glen Davis in 2019.
Beach balls have no speed records, as they lack any aerodynamic qualities when struck. They just float along.
So for ball speed, basketballs take the trophy by a long shot.
How Both Compare to Balls from Other Sports
Beach balls differ even more drastically from balls in other sports:
- Soccer – Much heavier soccer balls can be lofted high in the air.
- Football – Pointed ends allow footballs to slice through air when thrown.
- Baseball – Hard baseballs transfer energy into hits and pitches.
No other ball can float like a beach ball on gentle summer winds.
The Best Brands of Balls
Top basketball brands include Wilson, Spalding and Rawlings. For recreational beach balls, brands like SwimWays, Ultamate, and Tachikara dominate.
Serious players need quality basketball construction for playability. But pretty much any lightweight plastic beach ball will suffice for the beach.
Best Ways to Store or Maintain the Balls
Deflate beach balls fully when storing them to avoid excess strain. Inflate them before beach trips.
Basketballs retain air naturally so simply store out of sunlight at room temperature when not in use.
Avoid over-inflating and puncturing either ball to maximize lifespan.
How a New Ball Compares to an Old One
Fresh new beach balls hold air pressure longer and have bright, clean graphics. Over time, beach balls can get brittle in the sun and burst more easily.
The best bounce and grip comes from new basketballs. With age, basketballs lose air pressure and the materials break down.
So new balls of both types tend to perform better overall.
In summary, beach balls and basketballs differ tremendously in their weight, size, bounce, speed, and ideal play environments. Beach balls bring laidback fun, while basketballs enable intense competitive play. Their designs perfectly match how we use them!