How to Repair a Basketball: A Fix for All Common Issues that Basketballs Face

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sinking a shot from downtown and hearing the net ripple. But what do you do when your basketball starts to act up? In this blog post, we will walk you through how to repair a basketball. We’ll cover all the common issues that basketballs face, and how to fix them yourself!

The most common problems of basketballs

In most cases, all you need is a patch or a needle and some thread or glue. However, there are a few other tools that can come in handy. Here are the most common issues that basketballs face, and how to fix them:

  • a hole in the basketball
  • the basketball valve is loosing air
  • damaged / slippery surface
  • deformed basketball shape

A hole in the basketball

How do you locate a hole in a basketball?

First of all, you need to find where the hole is. The most obvious way is to submerge the ball in water and locate the point where small air bubbles are coming out.

Because it is natural that small bubbles of air will exist in many of the ball pores, use your palm to pass it around the ball surface to make them go away faster. Be patient and after the residual air of the surface pores goes away, it will be pretty obvious where the actual leak on your ball is. It is the spot where bubbles keep coming out.

Next step is to use something sharp, like a dull knife or better a colored marker to make a small circle around the spot where the hole is. Trust me, I have repaired a lot of basketballs in my career, and while you might think that this is not required, it is actually very important if you do not want to repeat the process from the beginning and loose your patience!

How do you patch a hole in a basketball?

There are a few different ways that you can patch a hole in a basketball. First of all, if you have a punctured ball with a small hole, you can try to melt the ball’s surrounding surface a bit, so that it gets sealed “naturally”. Of course this method can only used for a rubber ball and not on modern leather basketballs.

You can use a hot knife to achieve a hot melt of the outer surface at the point where it is leaking air. Better use a dull knife for this procedure, as you do not want to create more damage to the ball. Use the hot knife to melt some of the surrounding rubber and move it over the hole.

melt a basketball

After you believe that you have had the hole shut, wait for some time until the rubber gets cold and then try again. Bounce the ball vigorously and then submerge it into water to check if the leak persists.

If the above failed or you have a leaking basketball that is made out of leather, you may try our next method which is to use an adhesive patch. These patches come in a variety of sizes, so you will need to select one that is slightly larger than the hole.

Usually patches come as a part of a repair kit. These kits come with everything you need to patch a hole, including adhesive patches, glue or ball repair sealant and instructions. Repair kits are readily available at most sporting goods stores.

The best ball repair sealant

One of the most effective solutions to fix both rubber balls and composite leather basketballs, is the Unique Sports Ball Doctor. It is basically a formula that you insert into the ball with a syringe. Then you inflate the ball properly and bounce ball vigorously for several minutes, so that the formula spreads alla over the ball’s inner bladder. This way it covers all the surface and is able to seal properly any leaking basketball.

basketball repair kit

The basketball valve is loosing air

How do you confirm that the basketball valve does not hold air?

The simplest way to do this is to submerge the ball in enough still water. If you can see small air bubbles escaping from the valve, then the valve is not holding air.

How do you repair a basketball valve that is loosing air?

First of all you can try the “toothpick method”. It is probably the cheapest and most accessible way to fix your leaking basketball valve, because it does not require the purchase of anything (as long as you have a toothpick in your home.

First step is to make sure that the leaking basketball valve hole is clean. For this purpose, you will use a wet inflating needle and you you put it in the valve hole several times in and out to clean the dirt from the valve. Do not spare effort on this, you want to make sure that nothing stands inside the ball’s valve hole to make the valve leak.

Then take the inflator needle out of the ball’s valve hole and put the toothpick in it. Break off the end of the toothpick, leaving the valve plugged. The toothpick can act as a sealant and repair the damaged valve.

A leaking basketball valve cannot always be fixed with the toothpick method. If it fails, your next option is to try and replace the valve with a new valve. There is a great valve replacement kit on Amazon, that will help you insert a new valve into the ball’s bladder.

The process can be very effective for most basketballs, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s directions:

  1. First you use one of the supplied crochets to pull the damaged valve outside
  2. The you simply insert the new valve that comes with the set
  3. You push it a deep a you possibly can to insert it at the maximum level in the ball
  4. You use a pair of diagonial pliers to cut of any excessive length of the new valve

If the valve leaks after the above, you may need to repeat the process once more.

What to do if a basketball has slippery surface?

A slippery surface on an outdoor basketball can be caused by a number of things, including water, sweat, or dirt. If the surface is damaged, you may need to replace the ball. However, if the surface is simply dirty or wet, you can clean it yourself. Simply dampen a cloth and wipe the ball clean. Be sure to dry the ball completely before using it again.

If we are talking about an indoor leather basketball, then a leather conditioner can be used to to keep the surface material flexible, pliable, and new looking..

Apply a little amount of conditioner to a clean cloth and work it into the ball in a circular motion. Allow the conditioner to sit for at least 15 minutes before removing any excess with a towel.

leather conditioner for basketballs

Can you repair a basketball with lumps?

Most people think that you can only repair a basketball if it has a hole in it, but that’s not true! You can actually repair a basketball with lumps or deformed shape, too.

Basketballs often develop lumps and unevenness over time, especially if they are frequently used on rough surfaces. Although it may seem like the ball is beyond repair, there are a few simple steps that can help to restore its original shape.

First, you’ll need to deflate the ball and remove any air from it. Then pump it up again but this time to an air pressure level lower than the previous one. Some air lumps are caused by excessive air pressure inside the ball and will simply go away when the pressure is made right.

If the above did not work, try running the ball under warm water for a few minutes. This will help to soften the rubber and make it more pliable. Next, use your hands to massage the lumpy areas, working the rubber back and forth until it is smooth. Finally, let the ball dry completely before using it again. With a little bit of patience, you can easily repair a basketball with lumps.

The top tools to repair a basketball

basketball repair kit: Sports Ball Leak And Flat Fix-Repair Kit

basketball leak repair kit

basketball repair sealant: Unique Sports Ball Doctor (Quart)

Unique Sports Ball Doctor (Quart)

basketball valve repair kit: MINDCOLLISION Basketball Valve Replacement Kit

MINDCOLLISION Basketball Valve Replacement Kit

If the ball is too damaged, you may need to purchase a new one

Finally, if the hole in your basketball is large, the surface is fully damaged or the valve leak irreperable, you may need to replace the entire ball. Fortunately, in your website you may find great suggestions to get a brand new ball. With a little bit of effort, you can have your basketball back up and shooting like new in no time!


Can you fix a punctured basketball?

Yes, you can fix a punctured basketball by either melting the surrounding surface, using an adhesive patch or a ball repair sealant kit

How do you fix a broken basketball?

A broken basketball can be fixed by using a ball repair kit, that will seal any open holes in it. You may also change the ball’s valve or use melt around a punctured spot to seal it.


1 thought on “How to Repair a Basketball: A Fix for All Common Issues that Basketballs Face”

  1. Austin, I have a basketball that was signed by all of the Sixers team years ago. It has split on one of the seams. Any ideas on who could repair it? Thank you.


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