You might be wondering if you can use your old basketball as a medicine ball. Let’s find out if it’s possible and how you can do it yourself.
A normal basketball can’t be used as a medicine ball. A basketball bounces too much to be useful in that manner. It’s possible to fill a basketball with sand and seal it up again which would make it similar but, in the end the materials and effort to do this can also buy you a new medicine ball.
If you want to use your basketball as a medicine ball, you can find out below how to do it exactly.
- 1 Can you use a basketball as a medicine ball?
- 2 How to turn a basketball into a medicine ball
- 3 Is making your own medicine ball worth it?
Can you use a basketball as a medicine ball?
To know if we can use a basketball as a medicine ball let’s take a look at what both of these types of balls actually perform like.
A basketball is obviously made to play basketball. That means it has a grippy surface to be able to control the ball. It also has to bounce the right amount to make dribbling nice and easy.
Basketballs are about 9” to 9.5” in diameter. They weigh 20 to 22 oz. and bounce roughly 49 to 54 inches when dropped from a 6 foot height.
Medicine balls are used for exercising. Especially to train explosive power and coordination. This often involves throwing the ball with force into the wall, floor or as high as you can. They aren’t made for playing a game (although they can be a fun workout).
One of the biggest differences between basketballs and medicine balls is that medicine balls don’t bounce. Or at least very little. If you drop a medicine ball from 6 feet high, it won’t bounce anywhere near 50” like a basketball. It’ll bounce a few inches at most.
Another big difference is the weight. Medicine balls are much heavier than basketballs. Even the lightest medicine balls are heavier than the average basketball.
The size of medicine balls is also a bit different. There isn’t really a standard size for medicine balls. The lighter weights tend to be a bit smaller but heavier weights can be quite a bit bigger.
As you can read above, the biggest difference between basketballs and medicine balls is the amount they bounce and the weight. Where the weight difference comes from is pretty obvious. But why do they bounce in such a different way?
It’s the inside that counts. The outside material and construction of the different balls have do have a small impact but the most important things are more than skin deep.
Basketballs have air on the inside. Medicine balls are usually filled with sand but other things are also possible.
The filling of a ball might seem like something that just changes the weight. It also has a big impact on the bounciness though.
Air is compressible. So when you drop the basketball and it hits the floor, the ball pushes against the floor. Floors don’t tend to move though so it pushes back. That means the ball changes shape. The air inside doesn’t have anywhere to go though so it compresses.
That means the air pressure inside the ball is higher. Air doesn’t like to be under higher pressure than the air pressure outside. That means that it will try to expand back to its original pressure almost immediately. This pushes the outside layer of the ball back into shape and this helps push the ball off the floor and thus bouncing.
A medicine ball is filled with sand or something else relatively hard. Sand doesn’t compress like air does. Dropping it on the floor will shift some of the grains of sand around but it doesn’t cause any meaningful compression. That means there is nothing that pushes the ball back into the air and therefore no bounce.
How to turn a basketball into a medicine ball
So is it possible to turn a basketball into a medicine ball? Yes it is. You’re not going to end up with something as nice as when you just buy one but it’ll work.
As you might have understood from the paragraphs above, one of the biggest differences between a basketball and a medicine ball is what is on the inside. So if you could replace the air in a basketball with sand (or something similar), you would get something that is very similar to a medicine ball.
Sadly there is no easy way to get sand into your basketball. You can’t really get it through the valve. Here’s how you can turn your basketball into a medicine ball.
What you need
1. Get an old basketball
You want to do this because you want to save money. A used basketball and some sand are cheap and probably free.
If you have to get a new basketball there is no point in doing this. A basketball is not much cheaper than the average medicine ball so you might as well just by just the thing you’re trying to create. However, if you’ve got an old, unused basketball in the attic, use that.
2. Deflate the ball
If the ball is still holding air, let it out. It will make things easier and safer in the next step. You don’t have to get all the air out, just release some of the pressure and make it soft enough so it doesn’t roll and you can easily ‘dent’ the ball.
If you have a pump for balls, you can easily do this by inserting the needle into the valve without the rest of the pump attached. That will open the valve and let the air out. If necessary, push on the ball with the needle in the valve to get more air out.
You don’t want to make the ball completely flat. Leave some air inside.
3. Cut it open
Here comes the critical part (and why you don’t want to use a new basketball). You have to take a sharp knife and cut a
Box cutters or a craft carving knife will work best. You need something really sharp to make a clean cut. Hopefully you have released some of the pressure in the last step. If you still have a hard ball, it’s quite dangerous to try to cut it. A basketball has pretty thick skin so it can take some effort. If you got a hard ball that could roll away, it’s very dangerous to try to poke it with something sharp. If it suddenly rolls away the knife could go anywhere.
Make a little hole first, then ‘saw’ until you’ve got a roughly 2” cut. The length doesn’t matter too much as long as you can get the sand inside.
Try to make the cut as clean as possible to make it easier to patch up later.
4. Get some sand
An obvious step but necessary. Get your hands on some sand. It doesn’t really matter where. Just make sure it’s reasonably clean and it’s just sand. You don’t want any organic material in there that can start decomposing and forming mold. The best option is to buy sand from a shop. Sand for pool filters or an aquarium is perfect.
It’s also possible to use other things like rice, salt or even Styrofoam if you don’t need much weight.
5. Get a funnel
Get a funnel that easily fits in the cut you made. Any funnel that is big enough to let sand through but small enough to fit in the hole you just made. That’s all there is to it.
6. Fill the ball with as much sand as you want
You should have an idea of how heavy you want your medicine ball to be. Get the necessary amount of sand ready and pour it in through the funnel. It’s easier to get sand in the ball than out without making a mess. So if you want to be precise, weigh the ball a little before you think you’re at the desired weight.
It’s easier to pour in a little extra than to take a little out again. Of course you can also weigh the ball and sand before adding them together and just go for it. If you run out of space before you’re at the desired weight, shake the ball a little, this can free up a bit of extra space.
Depending on the size of the basketball you’re using, you’re probably going to be able to fit about 10 kg/ 22 lbs. of sand in there.
If you want a lighter ball, obviously don’t fill the ball up completely. However, to make a ball that doesn’t bounce too much, you still want to fill the extra empty space with something. Air is not a great option because it defeats the purpose of what we’re doing here. Styrofoam is a great option. It’s lightweight so doesn’t add much extra but it’s great at absorbing impacts. Which form you use doesn’t matter. If you got some packing peanuts left from the last package you received from Amazon, that will work great.
At this point you want to clean and degrease the outside of the basketball as well as you can. The products we’ll use after this will adhere better if the outside of the ball is clean.
This process is too much trouble to go through to have it fall apart in a few days. Take this step and you’ll have a longer lasting medicine ball as a reward.
Get a spray bottle of glass cleaner and a rag and spray down the exterior of the ball and wipe it down. That should remove most of the grease and grime. You could do this earlier in the process but you’ll be playing around with sand and touching it all over with your hands which releases oils.
Of course if the ball you use is really dirty, clean it off before you do anything in the beginning.
8. Use rubber cement
The cut we made in the beginning obviously has to be sealed up to prevent sand from flying everywhere when using your new medicine ball as intended.
We’ll use a few layers to make sure it’s unlikely that the sand can get out.
The first thing to do is to use rubber cement to glue the cut back together. Having a clean cut makes this a bit easier. Cleaning the surfaces of the cut also helps.
You could try super glue or similar things but most adhesives get quite hard. In this case you want something that stays quite pliable. If it can deform with the ball when it’s thrown, it’s going to be more durable.
You can try the stuff that’s meant for arts and crafts but there is a better option. Glue for tire repairs is exactly what you need here. Tires need to hold air and the seal shouldn’t be failing after the first bump. So getting some rubber cement for tires, you’ll have good results.
Glue both parts of the cut together according to the instructions of the product you’re using. Let it dry and set before moving on to the next step.
9. Cover with patch
Just like a tire, you want to cover the cut with a patch. Again a tire patch will work well although you could also use a patch you can use to fix an inflatable pool. They are pretty similar anyways.
You can get a tire repair kit that has patches and rubber cement in one set. It has way more than you need for this project but surely there is something else around your house that could need a patch.
If you have a square patch, make sure to round off the corners to make the chance of it fraying and coming loose over time smaller.
Scuff the area the patch will cover up with some sandpaper or similar. This helps the patch adhere better.
Let the rubber cement and patch set before moving on.
10. Cover in athletic tape
This final step is optional but it will look much better and is an extra failsafe if the glue and patch fail. Athletic tape does have enough grip for a medicine ball and it makes the surface a bit more comfortable to handle.
A ball is round so it doesn’t matter too much where you start. Just start somewhere. Try to prevent turning corners with the tape. Make it as straight as possible. Slowly rotate the ball with every wrap around of the tape. Try to overlap the tape you just put down about 50%. Continue until the whole ball is covered. Try to end up with as few exposed tape edges as possible.
Is making your own medicine ball worth it?
Is turning a basketball into a fitness ball worth it?
As a fun project and repurposing old things you would otherwise throw away, sure it’s worth it.
Economically, it doesn’t make that much sense. Sure you might have a basketball you don’t use anymore and you live next to the beach so the main ingredients in this project are free. However, you’ll probably have to buy some athletic tape, a patch and rubber cement. Maybe you’ll even have to get some sand and a funnel as well. If you add the cost of all these items up, you might be surprised how close you are to the price of a pre-made medicine ball.