How to Pump a Basketball Without a Needle

One of the best things about basketball is that you can play it almost anywhere. All you need is a ball and a hoop. Basketball hoops are in every neighborhood nowadays, so finding one nearby should not be too difficult. That’s why it can be so frustrating when you go to grab your basketball to play and you find it deflated.

It’s even more frustrating when you realize that you don’t own a pump, or you have a pump but not a needle. How are you going to play?

You could go buy the necessary equipment, but since basketballs don’t deflate often, you may not want to spend money on something you will rarely use. Luckily, there are some other options of which you might be able to take advantage. Here’s how to pump a basketball without a needle or a pump.

The Balloon Method

It’s unclear if this method works, but according to urban legends, it just might. This method involves filling the ball by transferring air from an inflated balloon. This works by filling up a balloon as much as you can. The bigger and stronger the balloon, the better.

Next, you will need something to insert into the ball. This can be a small straw, or a coffee stirrer, or something similar. Insert one end into the ball, and place the other inside the balloon opening. Either squeeze it tight to seal it, or use a paper clip to keep it airtight around your makeshift needle.

As the balloon deflates, the air will transfer to the ball. You can make it go faster by squeezing the balloon gently and moving the air along. Depending on how big the balloon is and how deflated the ball is, you may need to repeat the process more than once.

Compressed Air


This might be a more expensive option if you use compressed air regularly, but it can be used to inflate a basketball. The little straw that fits onto the cannister should also fit inside the basketball. Use small blasts of air to fill up the ball.

This will only work if you have enough compressed air to fill up the ball. It’s a good idea to see if you can tell if there’s enough before starting. You don’t want to end up wasting what’s left of your compressed air and ending up with only a partially inflated basketball. Also, for your information, those little straws are often removable, and you can use it for the balloon method.

Ink Tube From a Pen

Sometimes you may find yourself with a pump, but no needle. We’ve already talked about some of your options, but one of the best is the tube that you find inside of any pen that holds the ink. When a pen runs out of ink, that tube can act as a perfect needle stand-in. You can also drain the tube yourself by cutting it open and letting the ink come out. Make sure you don’t get any on your clothes. Once that is done, get a paper clip and straighten it out. Place it into the air hole.

Then, put the tube over the paper clip and push it into the ball. You can then pull out the paper clip from the other side. You now have a straw that leads directly into the ball. You can inflate the basketball by blowing into it for a few minutes until it is full. The pen tube is another gadget you can use with the balloon trick as well.

Make sure that the tube is fully drained of ink and you get adult supervision if you are under the age of 18. Ensure all ink residue as been removed and take care not to cause injury to yourself or others.

Infusion Ball

This one takes a little preparation. Instead of buying a regular basketball, you can buy one that has a pump built right into it. Then you never have to worry about a deflated ball. The pump stays inside the ball, and when you need to refill, you pull it out. It is connected, and all you have to do is pump it until the ball is fully inflated. Then you can push the pump back into the ball.

Walk to the Gas Station

If you are walking to the park to play ball anyway, you might as well stop at the gas station if there is one on the way. Or you can make a separate trip if you’d like. Most gas stations nowadays charge to use their air pumps, but in some areas and states, it is mandated that air be offered for free. You can use the industrial-sized pump at the station to refill your basketball.

As you can see, you don’t have to be let down if your basketball is not ready to go for when you want to play. Try any of these tricks to make sure that your plans to shoot a few hoops are not ruined.