How To Deflate A Basketball?

Deflating a basketball is important, so we will discuss how to have it deflated at the right level. You may be curious how you can deflate a basketball.

You will most likely have to deflate a basketball on occasion, so there should not be many situations in which you will not need to do so.

What would make Me Need to Deflate My Basketball?

Although deflating a basketball is not very common, you will need to know how to do this in some cases.


It is most likely that you need to deflate a basketball when it is too inflated. This makes playing basketball more difficult.

It may seem like dribbling the ball seems easier, but you’ll also mess up your bounce passes, cause your shots will bounce off the backboard or rim, and make you miss shots you normally wouldn’t. Although dribbling may seem easier, you may lose control of the ball due to the high air pressure because you pumped it up or someone else did.

The pressure in your basketball can also be affected by the temperature or altitude of the air. You may inflate it correctly on a cold day, but if you inflate it after a few days when it is very warm outside, it may become overinflated.

The air pressure inside a ball can increase when exposed to low altitude. For example, if a ball is inflated in Indianapolis, Indiana (altitude 715 feet) and then brought to Denver, Colorado (5280 feet), the ball may become overinflated. The ball will definitely be deflated if I take it up to Vail Pass (10.666 feet altitude).

Storage or Transport

You can save space in your drawer or bag, or wherever you store a deflated basketball by compressing it.

Taking a good leather or synthetic ball and deflating it can possibly ruin it. It can be damaged if it is deflated too much. You should not deflate the ball too much or you risk the panels separating and ruining the ball. Watch the ball carefully as you deflate it slowly. This shouldn’t be a problem with all rubber balls.

The following materials are needed to deflate a basketball:

Inflation Needle

This is a cheap and convenient product, and can usually be found almost anywhere that carries sporting equipment. 

Although I am unsure if other items will work, there is still a very good chance that doing this can result in permanent damage to your basketball, so the inflation needle is the way to go. You can buy them very cheaply and easily online.

A gauge for measuring air pressure

The pressure can be checked by using air pressure gauges found online or at most sporting goods stores, but they are optional and are not necessary for deflating your basketball.

How to deflate your basketball without using an air pressure gauge

In case a pressure gauge is not available, or you would like to deflate the ball prior to transport or storage, then use this method.

Make sure the pressure in your ball is correct.

You can tell if your ball needs to be deflated by dropping it from chest level to see if it bounces up to your waist. If it does, the ball is perfectly inflated.

Moisten the needle before inflating

Make sure the needle is moistened with water or saliva to aid in insertion. It makes it easier to insert and is less vulnerable to damage to the air valve.

The needle should be inserted into the air valve

Inject air into the air valve of the ball using the needle on its own (no pump). Press the needle down into the ball until it is all the way in there.

The fourth step is to let the air escape

At this stage, you should hear the air leaving the ball. If you want to deflate the ball for storage or transportation, you may need to squeeze it once it is partially deflated. This will allow the air to escape more easily. 

Remove of the needle

Remove the needle as soon as you have let out sufficient air by pulling the needle straight from the air valve.

Recheck the air pressure in the ball

You can skip this step if you are deflating the ball for storage. After deflating, check whether the air pressure has reached your desired level. If not, repeat the complete process from step 2.

This process should be repeated until you get a good bounce. 

How to deflate a ball without a needle?

Deflating a football is necessary if the ball contains too much air, or if it is to be stored or packed for travel. Deflating a football with a needle, also known as a inflation needle, can cause air to rush out of the opening in the middle, however if you are without a needle, you can use some simple science to do so.

The outside of the football should be cleaned with a damp towel. Dust and other debris can be removed from the surface.

Feel free to rearrange things inside the fridge to make room for the football on the top shelf. Place a dishtowel or cloth at the back of the refrigerator’s top shelf.

Inside the refrigerator, where the air is cold, a football will deflate. This behavior is due to the fact that air expands when heated and condenses due to the cold, so you can control it with temperature.

Make sure the football has deflated to your liking, or put it in the refrigerator until it has reached its full deflation.


Do not put the football in a freezer since the extreme change in temperature can damage the football.

What is the proper way to use an air pressure gauge to deflate a basketball?

Moisten inflating needle

It is important to moisten the needle by putting water or saliva on it. This is because the lubrication is easier to insert and prevents air valve damage.

Insert the needle of the pressure gauge in the air valve     

Insert the needle into the basketball while the air pressure gauge is connected to the needle.

Let go of air

You can begin releasing air from the air pressure gauge by pressing the release valve on the gauge. Make sure the pressure does not exceed the desired pressure and release the valve again once it has reached the desired pressure.

Deflating a basketball is very easy and is not something that you’ll need to do very often. Following the above steps will result in a decrease in air pressure in your basketball.


Paul Macdonald

Paul is an American former professional basketball player and current basketball analyst for ESPN. He primarily played the shooting guard and small forward positions, but occasionally played power forward later in his NBA career.


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