21 Basketball Tattoo Ideas to Inspire Your Next Ink

Are you a basketball lover and thinking about commemorating your love for the game with a tattoo? You’ve come to the perfect place for some eye-catching basketball tattoo ideas!

When you think of a basketball tattoo, you’re probably thinking of just a plain orange and black basketball. But, basketball tattoos don’t always have to go this route. Whether you want something simple, insanely realistic, or abstract, there is something for every basketball lover!

Use this list of basketball tattoo ideas as inspiration for your next basketball-themed piece of ink.

A basketball that has just gone through the hoop and net in a game. If you love basketball, these basketball tattoo ideas are for you.

Simple Basketball Tattoo Ideas

1. Basketball Outline

If you’d rather not bring attention to yourself with an extravagant tattoo, try getting a basketball outline tattoo. This tattoo brings simplicity with its beautifully sharp linework. It’s also a great tattoo if you have a low pain tolerance because it won’t take long.

2. Traditional Style Basketball With Flowers

Try out the traditional style for this basketball and flower tattoo! This basketball tattoo idea features perfect linework and stunning stippling. Using stippling instead of shading was a great way to shake up the traditional tattoo style. It provides depth but also gives the basketball and flowers a nice texture.

3. Black-and-Color Basketball Outline

If you like the idea of a line drawing tattoo, incorporating color can make it pop. This black-and-color basketball outline executes the use of color perfectly without overdoing it. The hand-drawn appearance of it is cool to see, as it makes it seem personalized.

The bright orange looks great popping through the black netting, creating a focal point. It was also a great idea to make the netting look a little mangled to create some movement.

4. Sketched Basketball Hoop

This basketball tattoo idea uses a beautiful sketch-like style, which almost looks like an ink and watercolor drawing. The artist’s style for this gives it a more artistic touch. They used the perfect amount of orange to grab the onlooker’s attention. And the use of stippling around the ball and mangled net to create movement was also rather eye-catching.

5. Inverted Basketball

If you want a bolder, more eye-catching look than a simple line drawing, ask for this inverted basketball tattoo! It uses black ink with the negative space of the canvas’s skin for the seams. The dark, saturated areas are nice and smooth-looking, with no blotchiness. It is highly pigmented, making it easy to spot from far away.

6. Basketball Net Outline

Many basketball tattoo ideas focus on the ball itself, but using the hoop can be another subtler option. This tattoo does exactly that with an outline of the netting. It’s simple yet cool to look at. If you look closely you’ll even notice some shading, which creates some depth and makes it look realistic.

7. Basketball Seams

Getting a tattoo of just the seams of the basketball is another subtle way to show your love for the game. This tattoo uses varying thicknesses to help give the sense that you’re looking at the ball from an angle. Doing this was quite smart, as it gives the tattoo a more realistic look than simple, fine lines.

Realistic Basketball Tattoos

8. Palm Tree Hoop

This palm tree basketball tattoo idea uses beautiful shading to create a realistic court scene with a tropical twist. The artist played around with depth perception, making you feel like you’re right below the hoop. Creating an abstract basketball with pinkish seams was a great way to draw attention. It almost looks like a stamp or brand.

9. Plain Basketball

A plain basketball tattoo like this focuses heavily on the small details. The artist honed in on the texture of the basketball, giving it a grainy look. They also used heavy shading to create a spherical look rather than a simple circle. It looks like it could roll right off the canvas at any moment.

10. Basketball Paraphernalia

Take it back to the 80s with this basketball paraphernalia tattoo! This basketball tattoo idea combines familiar elements like the hoop, basketball, Nike high-top sneakers, and a boombox.

The shading on this tattoo is incredibly smooth, giving it a washed-out watercolor look. And its undetailed, sketch-like elements in the background allow the highly-detailed objects to stand out.

11. Basketball Skin Rip

This basketball skin rip tattoo creates a crazy flesh-like appearance. The shading makes the basketball look like it’s actually tearing through the skin, revealing a highly-textured basketball underneath. The artist focused on highlights and dark shading to create the pebble-like texture of a real basketball.

12. Small Full-Color Basketball

Realistic tattoos don’t always need to be massive. Try this small full-color basketball tattoo idea on for size! The artist put quite a bit of detail into this little tattoo with intense pigment, shading, and bright highlights.

Using yellow for highlights gives the ball a cool glow, which was a better choice than using washed-out orange. The highlights on the seams were also a great choice, as they hit the rubber texture home.

Abstract Basketball Tattoos

13. Basketball Rose Petals

This basketball rose petal tattoo is a beautiful way to incorporate your love for the game. It uses a stippling technique to create shadows, which pairs well with the pebble-like textured basketball petals. The artist also made great use of white highlights, giving a more three-dimensional look.

14. Basketball Alien

A basketball alien abduction is a perfect way to make a basketball tattoo idea a little more fun! The design focuses heavily on stippling for both shadows and the overall design of the ball. This was an excellent idea, as the stippling helps emphasize the pebble-like texture of the basketball. The artist made great use of linework as well to help create movement in the abduction beam.

15. Popping Basketball

This popping basketball tattoo idea is an interesting take on a conventional basketball. The artist depicts the ball and the air within it almost as two separate entities. Its popped shell has a decent amount of shading to show the crinkling and stretching of the leather. Leaving a type of shaded aura behind was a nice way to depict the air left behind.

16. Basketball Watercolor Splash

This basketball watercolor splash tattoo is the perfect tattoo if you want something on the artistic side. The base of the design has a cool sketch-like appearance to it, making it look more like a drawing. And the light, watercolor-like ink gives the illusion that diluted paint is dripping and spreading on the canvas.

17. Basketball Heart

The basketball heart tattoo is mesmerizing to look at with multiple abstract factors. It focuses heavily on dark, crisp linework and beautiful stippling to create depth. Integrating the netting of the hoop with the veins and arteries of the heart was such a clever idea. The basketball Saturn was another interesting touch that helps accentuate the abstract nature of the tattoo.

18. Basketball Compass

This compass basketball tattoo idea looks like something out of a science book! It uses very fine linework, beautiful charcoal-like shading, stippling, and an eye-catching snake compass. The design looks to depict a type of wormhole and using a grid for this helped capture the stretching efficiently.

19. Abstract Basketball Player

The focus of this basketball tattoo idea seems to be Dennis Rodman himself rather than the ball. It uses geometric shapes, sharp linework, dots, and beautifully bright colors to draw attention. The bold, thick lines are especially eye-catching along with the expression on the player’s face. It focuses heavily on red and black lines, which subtly depict the Chicago Bulls’ colors.

20. Basketball Saturn

Using the basketball as the planet Saturn is a cool way to switch up the ball’s typical look. The artist still used a realistic style for the basketball, with smooth spherical shading. But, they brought in an abstract element with a simple shaded ring to create a planet. While this tattoo is only a few inches big, the artist was able to put quite a bit of shading detail into it.

21. Geometric Basketball

This basketball tattoo idea uses multiple techniques to create a geometrical abstract piece. The artist used bold linework, geometric shapes, shading, stippling, and graph lines to draw your attention. Using an inverted-colored basketball with bright white highlights is especially striking.

Where Is the Best Place To Put Your Basketball Tattoo?

Finding the best area for your tattoo can be difficult. Here are some of the best placement areas for your basketball tattoo idea to help you decide.

A tattoo artist preparing to begin tattoo work.



  • Bicep muscles have a circular shape, almost accentuating the basketball
  • It can fit both large and small tattoos
  • You can hide the tattoo with your shirt if needed


  • The inner bicep can be an extremely painful spot
  • Shirt friction can be a problem when it’s healing



  • This spot isn’t too painful if you stay away from your wrist
  • You can easily look at it daily and show it off with a short sleeve shirt
  • Your forearm is triangle-shaped, which would be great for a basketball hoop


  • The closer you get to the wrist, the more it’ll hurt
  • Depending on the area, the tattoo might look warped with certain movements



  • Your calves have plenty of muscle and fat, making the tattooing process less painful
  • Large surface area
  • The calf muscle is circular, which could accentuate the basketball


  • Healing can be difficult if pants are rubbing on it, removing the aftercare lotion
  • Near the shin is a painful area

Wrapping Up Basketball Tattoo Ideas

A basketball on the floor of a court.

Basketball tattoos are an excellent way to express our favorite sport! But, they don’t always need to be so mundane. You can make them much more interesting by combining multiple tattooing techniques and incorporating other elements besides just the ball.

Use these basketball tattoo ideas to help brainstorm your next mind-blowing piece of ink.

Are you looking for other tattoo ideas? Use our Tattoo Ideas page to kickstart your brainstorming session!

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