Basketball Air Pump Buying Guide & Tips

How do you know which basketball air pump is suitable for your needs? The truth is that, as is the case with almost everything else, it’s a matter of personal preference. There are those people who love using the stirrup pump which tends to make basketball inflation very easy and requires less effort to use. Other will want the simplicity that comes with a hand pump. Not only are these pumps easy to use but they are also small and light enough to fit in your kit bag so you can carry them with you wherever you go.

But what if you don’t have any predetermined preference? What if you are just picking up the sport and want to know which basketball air pump is better for your needs? This guide will help you decide and find the right basketball air pump at the right price.

The Different Types of Basketball Air Pumps

Because basketball is such a popular sport, it is understandable that there will be a lot of options as far as the accessories that go with it are concerned. As such, there are a number of alternatives when it comes to basketball air pumps. Here are some of the most common types and how they work:

      • Hand pump: This type of pump is very easy to use. It’s light and small enough to throw into your kit bag and carry around. It is also the cheapest of the lot. This type of pump comes in great handy when you are just taking up the sport as a hobby and only have one or two balls.

hand pump image

      • Double action hand pump: The double action hand pump is a lot like the standard hand pump with one glaring difference – while the standard pump only pumps air when you push it in the double action hand pump pumps air into the ball whenever you pump it in or out. It therefore makes this entire exercise much easier, faster and more efficient.

double action hand pump image

      • Stirrup pump: These types of pumps are a bit bigger than the previous two. They allow for much faster and more efficient pumping thanks to their long barrel. They even have a balance foot plate which give them extra stability for more vigorous pumping.

stirrup pump image

      • Heavy duty stirrup pump: This is very much like the standard stirrup pump except for the fact that it’s much more powerful and comes with a built in pressure gauge that tells you if your basketballs have been inflated to the ideal PSI.

heavy duty stirrup pump image

      • Electric pump: There is almost no reason why an individual would need to buy an electric pump. These types of pumps are like the Rolls Royce of pumps. They are efficient, powerful and very easy to use. The only problem is that they need to be connected to mains electricity for them to work. These are the types of pumps used by huge teams because you can inflate a big number of balls really quickly. These are ideal for schools, sports teams and clubs.

electric pump image

As you can see, all these pumps have their own uses and while they all do essentially the same thing (inflate your basketball) there are some that would be superfluous, to say the least, for hobby basketballers and others that would be impractical for professional teams.

Do You Need a Needle to Inflate Your Basketball?

Yes, and no. While there are methods through which you can inflate your basketball without a needle, if you are using any of these above mentioned pumps (as you would if you want the convenience of having your own air pump at home) then you are going to need a needle. Most of these pumps may come with their own needles but in some cases, you would have to buy one separately.

Now, using a needle to pump air into your basketball is necessary because it makes the entire process efficient and makes this whole exercise a one man or woman show. Otherwise you would need an extra set of hands to hold the pump nozzle in place so you can pump the air into the basketball.

How to Use a Needle with Your Basketball Air Pump?

There is one mistake that many people make when using a needle to inflate their basketball. They do not lubricate it first. You see, you HAVE to lubricate the needle before you insert it into the basketball valve for inflation. There is one very good reason for this – an unlubricated needle tends to snag or catch on the valve flaps thus causing tiny but extremely inconvenient tears.

These, in turn, cause the basketball to continuously lose pressure and deflate while playing or when stored. You will forever have to keep inflating your basketball even during a game which can be very inconveniencing.

You therefore have to lubricate the needle before you insert it into the valve. You can use liquids such as rubber preservatives or even plastic protectant. But if none of these are available, then some Vaseline or even a generous helping of spit will do.

How to Pump and Check for Air Pressure

Before you start pumping your ball be sure to check for the air pressure recommendations. You can easily find these numbers on the valve on your basketball. Once you know the number, you can simply begin pumping using the ideal pump for you. Most of the pumps mentioned above call for actual physical up and down pumping motion while the electric ones just call for a flip of a switch.

Always remember to check for air pressure. There are two ways to do this:

      • By feel: Just look and feel the basketball to tell if it has enough pressure (not the most reliable method)
      • By using a pressure gauge: Some pumps come with a built-in pressure gauge that tells you how much air has been pumped into your ball at any given time. For the most part, however, especially when dealing with the standard hand pumps, you will have to buy your own pressure gauge. These are used the same way you use the needle. Lubricate it and insert it into the air valve to read how much pressure has been pumped into the ball.

pressure gauge image

Finding the right basketball air pump for you will make your life and your sport all that much more enjoyable. At least you won’t have to stop and drive around every time you need to reflate your basketball.