A basketball is an instantly recognizable object globally. It is a universal symbol sacred to everyone passionate about the sport. But as part of the game’s evolution, it took a while before the ball’s current form took shape.

A football or a soccer ball was initially used when the game was first played in 1891 after its invention by Dr. James Naismith. Since then, early basketballs have been made of stitched leather panels covering a rubber bladder.

Molded versions came about in the early 1940s, and leather became their main cover. However, synthetic leather started to emerge during the 1990s. But aside from the variation of color and material, the typical basketball design has retained one subtle yet interesting feature: the dots on its surface.

I have been fascinated with these dots since the first time I got hold of a basketball. In some ways, their symmetry makes them calming to look at.

These smaller circles cover the ball’s surface, whether it’s an official ball or used for pick-up games. It’s not there for aesthetic purposes alone, making it fascinating to learn more about its number and importance.

dots are there on a basketball

How many dots are there on a basketball?

Though a new ball may now come in different colors, it contains 122 dots per square inch. That number roughly translates to over 35,000 dots in a standard 29.5-inch circumference of an average basketball ball. The regulation basketball, often called Size 7, is often used for FIBA-sanctioned competitions and has a 9.5-inch-diameter.

Determining the exact number of dots takes time and concentration because you may count them twice and lose track of the total. But it would be weird to see a new basketball without these dots.

Why are there dots on a basketball?

If the dents on a golf ball help it travel further, the small bumps on a basketball are there for a specific reason. Those dots enhance the ball’s grip, enabling the player to apply enough friction to control the leather. These dots improve ball control by providing multiple points of contact. They also serve as an extra layer of protection that helps prolong the ball’s life.

Even I cannot control the perspiration that comes out of my body when I run up and down the basketball court. Inevitably, sweaty hands may lead me to lose possession, which can be crucial during a hotly contested match. With ten athletes playing simultaneously, the ball will be quickly soaked in sweat. In that case, the bumps make the ball less slippery, especially when dribbling or shooting.

Why does a basketball have lines?

Aside from the tiny dots, the ball’s black lines are also one of its more distinguishable details. These rubber lines border the official game ball’s eight panels and are used for optimal ball control. A frictionless basketball typically has worn-out lines, making it one even surface.

I find it easier to put the necessary spin on the ball when shooting through the basketball’s lines. Setting a proper spin on the basketball gives a high chance of converting a shot. In some ways, the lines also guide where to hold the ball before releasing it for a shot.

Meanwhile, the basketball’s lines provide excellent movement, especially during slow-motion replay or game highlights. The rotating black ribs make the ball’s spin look more dramatic before it goes through the hoop.

Why is the basketball orange?

There weren’t many colors for a basketball during the game’s early years. However, the predominantly brown color of a basketball makes it challenging to see, especially during a fast-paced game. This concern prompted former Butler University coach Tony Hinkle to do something about it.

Therefore, he collaborated with the Spalding company to create an orange-colored ball. Hinkle chose that color because it’s easy to see, and the orange balls debuted during the 1958 NCAA Finals.

Since then, NCAA basketballs have followed suit design-wise, making the orange basketball a staple choice in an official match at any level. Nowadays, some companies have tinkered with the orange color. The most prominent are the Molten-made balls used in official FIBA tournaments that feature beige linings with orange panels. Balls now also come in many different colors and with different logos to satisfy the consumer market.

dots are there on a basketball

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are there dots on a basketball?

The bumps or dimples covering the ball’s entire surface area enhance player grip. Since players expend sweat throughout a basketball game, the lack of friction makes it difficult to control the ball. The dots help maintain enough traction for better performance.

What are the lines on a basketball for?

The uneven surface provided by these lines leads to easier hand alignment when dribbling or shooting the basketball. The lines that divide the panels also make the ball look fantastic during slow-motion videos.

Is orange a randomly chosen color for a basketball?

It’s easier to track the orange basketball compared to the brown one. After all, orange is the second-most noticeable color, per the rainbow. Therefore, the players and the fans know where the ball is or who has the leather despite the game’s quick tempo.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, an understanding of how many dots are on a basketball and you don’t have to count them yourselves! The game has come a long way in many ways and whilst the ball has developed, it is still very much the same as it was when Tony Hinkle first changed the ball to be orange.

With the game on the line and the ball in your hands, being at one with the ball can spell the difference between success and failure. It’s a cliché that basketball is a game of inches. Sometimes, the inches that can lead to victory are within the elements of a standard basketball.


David Harris is a former player and after many years of writing and testing hundreds of products associated with the game, created this website to share his tips, basketballs and gear.  I look forward to continuing to grow and build this site and sharing great content.

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