What to Buy When First Getting Started in Basketball
Basketball, unlike hockey or football, does not need, nor does it require, too many items to get started. In fact, basketball may be one of the easiest sports to get started with, oftentimes requiring nothing more than a basketball and a basketball hoop.
However, if you’re just getting started as a player, you may want to purchase a few additional accessories and items to help you be both safe and prepared for the next game. And whether you’re playing a quick pick-up game or have joined a recreation league, these items will help you to get started and feel more confident while on the court.
Why Buy Basketball Gear and Accessories
While, technically, a game of basketball requires little more than a basketball and a basketball hoop, to really take your game to the next level, certain pieces of clothing, shoes, gear, and training materials may be helpful. And while no single piece of gear or clothing will replace hard work and practice, some gear can help you to feel more confident on the court and safer while playing the game.
However, deciding on what to buy, particularly when you are first starting out, is really up to you. Basketball is a simple sport and that is one of the main reasons as to why so many individuals across the globe love the game. In addition, due to its simplicity, buying additional gear and equipment can also be done at further points in your basketball journey.
While we always recommend getting the absolute necessities to play the sport efficiently and properly, many of the additional gear and equipment is simply unnecessary, particularly in the beginning. However, choosing what gear to buy and what to hold off on is a matter of personal preference.
Below, as we explain what to buy when first getting started in basketball, we will also provide our opinion as to the necessity of the item and whether or not you should invest in it in the beginning.
Basketball Shoes (Necessity)
While many newer players and individuals to the game may believe that any old pair of shoes will suffice, nothing could be further from the truth. Basketball shoes are an essential item to proper play and many leagues will disallow players from play if they are not wearing proper basketball shoes.
Basketball shoes often offer high tops, which provide adequate and proper protection for your ankles. In addition, basketball shoes are often heavier and sturdier, giving your foot and ankle additional support and stability. However, basketball shoes don’t have to be expensive, as evidenced by our article on the best Nike basketball shoes under $50.
Our recommendations for the best basketball shoes to buy right now, though, do cost a bit more than $50. But, if finances are a concern and you are just getting started, then really any pair of basketball shoes should suffice.
- Nike Men’s Kyrie Flytrap IV Basketball Shoe – perhaps surprising to many, the Kyrie Irving line of basketball shoes by Nike are one of the most popular basketball shoes on the market. And while there are a plethora of options and styles to choose from, we personally love and own a pair of the Flytrap IV basketball shoes. Chic in design, the shoes provide superior coverage and protection from ankle injuries due to the high tops and are one of the coolest designed shoes currently available on the market.
- LeBron 18 Nike Basketball Shoe – the LeBron 18’s are one of the coolest basketball shoes we have ever seen. And while we don’t own a pair, they are definitely on our Amazon Wishlist. The shoes are multicolored in design and feature a knit design towards the front of the shoe for maximum breathability and airflow.
Basketball Socks (Semi-Necessary)
Continuing from basketball shoes is the discussion surrounding basketball socks. Basketball socks, as compared to normal, regular socks, can help your feet to avoid fatigue and blistering. However, really, any pair of cotton socks should suffice on the court and should be able to provide your feet with the protection they need while playing for hours on end.
But what really makes basketball socks stand out and be semi-necessary for proper play is the fact that many of them come with moisture-wicking technology. This technology and material quickly and efficiently absorbs sweat from your feet and disperses it in the air.
If you do opt to purchase basketball socks, we highly recommend the Elite Basketball Socks by Disile. Coming in a variety of colors, these socks offer added cushioning and support for your feet which can be helpful with all the running and jumping associated with the game.
Basketball Shorts or Pants (Necessity)
Similarly, if you want to play a game of basketball, then you are going to need a proper pair of shorts or athletic pants. Showing up to the court in kakis or dress pants simply won’t cut it and will likely leave you playing at a subpar level.
And similar to basketball socks, many basketball shorts or pants come with moisture-wicking technology to quickly evaporate excess sweat and water. Personally, we stick with the Nike Dri-FIT shorts when playing a game of basketball. Not too short, these shorts provide adequate coverage for the game and are comfortable and loose enough to allow for quick, sudden movements throughout your time on the court.
If you’re more comfortable wearing pants rather than shorts, particularly during the colder weather, we highly recommend the Adidas Men’s Tiro 21 Track Pants. Nearly all of our athletic pants are Adidas and they have proven to be both durable and comfortable. Too often, athletic pants are tight around the waist area, but these pants provide enough room to fit into and to play in.
Basketball Shirt or Jersey (Necessity)
As with a pair of basketball shorts or pants, a proper basketball shirt will help to keep you cool and will offer you sufficient space and room to play at your best. And while you may consider wearing a basketball jersey to the court, we’d caution against doing so. Unless you are playing in a recreation league, basketball jerseys are best left to the professionals.
Rather, consider opting for a basketball tank top, such as the one from Adidas, which won’t restrict your arms during play. If you’re uncomfortable with wearing a tank top, you could always consider a simple athletic shirt, such as one from Nike or Under Armour.
These athletic shirts come with the same moisture-wicking technology we discussed above and typically come in simple, neutral colors, allowing you to focus on the game at hand.
Basketball Wrist Band (Necessary for Some)
Basketball wrist bands aren’t necessary for proper play and not wearing one won’t exclude you from the game. But, if you tend to sweat excessively, particularly in your arms and hands, then they can be useful to help prevent sweat from accumulating.
All that said, basketball wrist bands are generally cheap and plentiful. You can opt for a pair of black wrist bands from Under Armour and ensure that you aren’t left drenched after a game of basketball.
Basketball Headband (Necessary for Some)
Similar to a basketball wristband, basketball headbands may be necessary for some. And, again, while not a disqualifying item, it can be one that is useful, particularly if you are prone to excess sweating from your forehead and head.
Basketball headbands are not only relatively cheap, but they also offer dual protection against both sweat and for keeping your hair from your face while playing. Particularly useful for anyone with longer hair, we recommend the Nike dri-FIT Headbands which offer the same moisture-wicking technology found in basketball shorts, pants, and shirts.
A Basketball (Necessary)
You can’t play a game of basketball without an actual basketball. And while you could hope that others at the court have one, relying on others to play the game is a quick way to have your expectations crushed. And when it comes to choosing and purchasing a basketball, the main criteria you should be looking for is whether the basketball is meant for indoor or outdoor play.
Basketballs generally come in three different materials, leather, rubber, and synthetic, often called composite. The professional leagues typically utilize basketballs made of genuine leather and are often the basketballs that are found used at most indoor gyms and basketball leagues.
In addition to being the most widely used, leather basketballs are generally the softest and most comfortable material on a ball. That is also why genuine leather basketballs tend to great grip and are widely chosen for most leagues.
However, synthetic, or composite basketballs are by-far the best basketballs for overall grip. Synthetic basketballs are made of material that look and feel like leather and can be used for both indoor and outdoor play. Due to the synthetic material of the ball, composite basketballs need little “breakage” and can be used practically out of the box.
Lastly, rubber basketballs are generally the most affordable and are a great option for beginners and for outdoor play. Rubber basketballs generally perform well on asphalt and provide a great bounce on outdoor surfaces. However, rubber basketballs tend to have less grip, as compared to the alternatives.
If you’re looking for the best indoor basketball, then there really is no better basketball than the Wilson Evolution Basketball. With a cushioned core, the ball is soft to the touch and easier to grip during play. Extremely durable, the Wilson Evolution basketball should last you many seasons and games and is by far the best indoor basketball to play with.
For outdoor basketballs, we personally love the Spalding Tack-Soft Indoor-Outdoor Basketball. While the Spalding Tack-Soft basketball can be used both indoors and outdoors, we prefer to play with it outdoors and on concrete or harder court surfaces.
Extremely durable, the Spalding Tack-Soft Basketball is still soft to the touch. Although a bit more firm than the Wilson Evolution Basketball, it does a great job on hard surfaces and against double-rimmed basketball hoops.
Basketball Goggles (Necessary for Some)
Another basketball accessory that you may want to consider are basketball goggles. While basketball goggles have lost their standing within the NBA, with less-and-less player wearing them, basketball goggles are a great way to protect your eyes and face from the effects of being hit by an errant basketball or elbow.
If you’re not too keen on basketball goggles, you may consider them useful especially if you wear prescription glasses. Many basketball goggles can now be outfitted with prescription lenses and will allow you to see better and maintain proper vision while on the court.
While we don’t personally use basketball goggles while we play the game, we have discussed with some friends on the goggles they use. Most have recommended thee Professional Sports Goggles by Sheen Kelly and provided outstanding reviews for the goggles ability to remain sturdy and in place while playing sports.
Continuing on the topic of personal safety items, you may also want to consider investing in a mouthguard. Widely used across the NBA and nearly all professional sports, mouthguards help to avoid serious injury to the mouth, teeth, and tongue.
And while mouthguards can be uncomfortable to wear, particularly in the beginning, multiple uses do eventually allow for easier placement and removal of the mouthguard.
We’ve used the NXT brand for mouthguards for a while now and can recommend it wholeheartedly. Clear in design, this mouthguard is thin yet protective enough to protect your mouth, teeth, and tongue from most blows and hits to the face.
In addition, the NXT brand allows for initial molding to the teeth, meaning that it will simply snap into place once the mold has been set and can be easily removed. And with a sleek undercarriage channel system, you’ll still be able to breathe easily even with the mouthpiece in place.
Water Bottle (Necessary)
Whether you are playing indoors or outdoors, bringing a bottle of water with you to a game of basketball is absolutely necessary. Ideally, you should be drinking copious amounts of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration and bodily functions.
When it comes to determining the amount of water a basketball player should be drinking each day, a good rule of thumb is to divide your total body weight in half and drink that amount in ounces. For example, a basketball player weighing 180 pounds should drink 90-ounces of water per day.
This recommendation should also be increased dependent on current conditions and intensity of a workout. For example, if you are working out outside in the sweltering heat, it is recommended to increase the amount of water consumed.
You should also take note to drink water before and after certain activities. In particular if you are going in to practice or after a game.
- Drink 16-ounces of water two-hours before a basketball practice or game
- Drink 4-6 ounces of water every 20-minutes during a practice or game
- Drink 16-24 ounces after a basketball practice or game
Ensuring you drink the proper amount of water daily can be done by drinking from bottled water or by purchasing a reusable water bottle. Personally, we use a 20-ounce Hydro Flask to ensure we reach our daily recommended water intake. An insulated water bottle, Hydro Flask’s ensure that your water remains cold and ready to drink no matter the conditions outside.
Basketball Hoop (Necessary for Some)
As with an actual basketball, no game of basketball can be played without a proper basketball hoop. However, if finances are a concern, then it may be easier to simply head to your local gym or public park to play a quick game. If you are looking to really get into basketball, then investing in a basketball hoop is a great decision.
Personally, we use and have used Spalding basketball hoops in our driveways since we were young. Since 1876, Spalding has been providing basketball players around the world with the necessary equipment to help them both play and compete at the highest levels. In fact, Spalding is currently the official sponsor of all rims and hoops used in the NBA.
Our personal recommendation for the best basketball hoop to purchase is Spalding’s The Best Glass Portable Basketball Hoop. A true engineering marvel and beauty, this basketball hoop provides basketball players with the rigidity and stability of an in-ground system, but with a wheeled base that makes it easy to move and transport.
With similar finesse as one would find on a professional court, the Spalding Beast allows you to adjust the height of the rim between 7.5 feet to league-standard 10-feet. Extremely sturdy, this hoop and backboard system can withstand nearly all dunks, drives, and shots made against it and does so with a sleek profile.
A Basketball Bag (Not Necessary)
If you plan to go to the gym or the local public basketball court often, then investing in a basketball bag is a great idea. With a basketball bag, you will be able to place and hold all the items mentioned above with ease and without too much difficulty.
Personally, we use the Nike Hoops Elite Pro Basketball Backpack as our main backpack for going to the gym and for when we go to the local basketball court. Large enough to hold our basketball shoes and gear, this bag is extremely durable and will last you multiple years.
Our only complaint with the bag is that it is not large enough to hold an actual basketball in and we are typically forced to hold the ball in our hands. While not a dealbreaker, there are many other basketball bags which have an individualized compartment for the basketball.