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How to Buy a Basketball System
If you are reading this, you are probably trying to figure out how to buy a basketball hoop. Why else would you be here? Deciding to buy a hoop for your driveway, backyard, or gym is the easy part. Figuring out which system is THE system for you… that can be a bit trickier. A quick search for the terms “basketball hoop” or “basketball system” in Google can overwhelm you with options.
“What type of backboard do I want?” “How big?”, “How much should I spend?”, “How should I install it?”, “What questions should I even ask?”
We’re here to help! Walk through this quick guide to help determine the perfect system for you, your family, or your organization.
Step 1: Ask yourself “Who is this basketball hoop for?”
The basketball system manufacturers we have chosen to partner with offer almost any configuration imaginable for all age ranges and skill levels. There is an incredible amount of information to sift through in making your choice. You first have to decide where you plan to install it, how often it will be used (and by whom), and if it is intended for recreational play or for serious games.
Buying a quality basketball system is an investment, and you need to determine the age of the player, their skill level, and how frequently you believe the player will use the hoop. If you have young children you may want to invest in an adjustable basketball system that will grow with them.
Adjustable Basketball System:
A quality adjustable basketball system can be set as low as 5’ (although 6’ -7’ is more common). As the children grow (or if older siblings or Mom & Dad want to play) the height can easily be adjust up to regulation. There are no “hard and fast” rules, but a good estimate is:
- Young children (5-8 years old) =5-7 feet
- Youth (9-12 years old) = 8-9 feet
- Teen – Adult (13 year old +) =10 Feet
Adjustable basketball hoops come in two styles: crank or pneumatic (gas) systems. If you're interested in long-term durability coupled with accuracy, then the crank adjusting mechanisms are rated higher. These systems are generally harder to raise and lower, but provide robust resilience against wear and tear. A pneumatic system, contrarily, is easier to adjust. These systems are just as strong as the crank systems, but after a few years commonly leak air (or gas), making the hoop not quite as accurate as the crank counter part in the long run. Though different prices may help you make a choice in buying a basketball hoop, you want to choose an adjusting system that will fit your particular needs. Many goals have the ability to be padlocked at certain heights. If your worried about your system being vandalized, you should make sure you have this ability.
Fixed Height Basketball Systems:
Since adjustable in-ground and portable basketball systems allow you to adapt the height of the hoop for kids of different heights and skill levels, they are perfect for families. If there are no young kids involved in your decision making process, you may want to consider a fixed height basketball system. You can usually save a few dollars, and since there are no moving pieces, they are generally easy to install and maintain.
Once you have determined if you need an adjustable height system or a fixed height system, you need to evaluate how hard you think the players are going to be on your investment. Do you have power players who will be dunking and crashing the boards, or do you expect the players to mostly just spend time shooting from range? If the hoop is going to be “used and abused”, make sure you invest in a high quality system made of premium materials, and is backed by a comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty. You will spend a little more, but your investment will be protected, and you will get many more years of enjoyment from your basketball system.
Step 2: Ask yourself “Where and how am I going to install this basketball system?”
At this point, you know if you need a fixed height or adjustable goal, and now you need to figure out where you will be installing it… or if you want to install it at all. There are basically three types of basketball systems you can purchase: portable systems, in-ground pole systems, and combination systems. Each type offers different benefits and come at different price points, so it is important to assess your needs in making the choice.
When considering where to install your system, please keep in mind that the regulation and maximum offset (“offset” refers to the space between the out-of-bounds line and the bottom of the backboard) should ideally be about 4 feet. The farther the distance, the greater safety zone you have between the players and the pole holding up the basket. Most home courts roughly incorporate a 24-inch offset to best maximize driveway length and width, allowing for a free-throw line or even a three-point line.
Portable Basketball Systems:
One of the more popular choices when looking for a “value” system is a portable basketball hoop. Portable basketball systems generally fall in one of two categories, residential and commercial. For the purposes of this discussion, we will be focusing on residential basketball hoops. These portable hoops are most commonly found at the big box stores and can be found in almost every neighborhood. These systems typically have a large base that is weighted down with many gallons of water or sand. These are popular options for those who move frequently (although most quality in ground systems are installed via sleeves or piers that allow you to relocate them quite easily), or for neighborhoods that have restrictive covenants that prohibit the installation of a permanent basketball hoop. Common features for portable basketball goals are:
- Stand-alone units that incorporate the base, pole, backboard, and rim into one system.
- Usually adjustable in height and have wheels for moving around.
- Popular due to portability and do not require extensive installation such as hole digging or securing to an existing structure or pole.
- They are typically cheaper than in-ground pole basketball systems and combination basketball systems.
- Ballast for the system is usually water or sand to provide the unit stability.
- Portable hoops are not as sturdy as in-ground systems, so when a permanent hoop is an option it should always be considered strongly.
- Portable hoops are great options for younger players.
In-Ground or Permanent Basketball Systems:
If a portable basketball system is not a requirement, we recommend you consider a high quality in-ground basketball hoop. A durable in-ground basketball system will require a little more effort to set up and install, but premium permanent or semi-permanent basketball hoops adds hours of enjoyment, are more attractive, are of higher quality, and will likely add value to your home. In-ground systems work by securing a pole into concrete and include a backboard, pole, and rim. There are two basic categories of in-ground installation for these basketball systems:
- Standard: Standard in-ground basketball systems secure the basketball pole itself in concrete. These basketball systems are highly stable as a result, but you will not be able to move or adjust the pole without damaging it or the ground anchoring it.
- Bolt-on: Anchor basketball systems bolt or cement a pole into an anchor set in a concrete base. If you want to move the system, uproot the pole. You will not be able to move the anchor, but they do not cost a lot of money to replace.
Common features for in-ground pole basketball systems are:
- Basketball systems are positioned and cemented in a hole dug in the ground and are permanent.
- In-ground systems are more stable than portable systems, but require more work to install. These systems are usually more expensive than the portable systems.
- You can choose to dig and insert a ground sleeve into a hole in the ground and insert the pole for some portability.
- If purchasing a permanent hoop is an option it should be considered strongly as they are much sturdier than portable hoops.
- An in-ground system will give you a more “true feel” when shooting as the backboard system is more sturdy.
Combination or Mounted Systems:
If a portable system does not appeal to you, and an in-ground system is not an option due to the logistical issues such as space or layout, there is a third option available as well. Wall-mount or roof-mount basketball systems allow you to attach a basket to the side of your hous
e, garage, or roof. They will never be in the way, but require installation. Most wall-mount basketball systems include a backboard, rim, net, and mounting kit and some come with an extension arm that allows the rim and net to extend out from your house.
Common features for mounted basketball systems are:
- Can be mounted on the side of the house or garage.
- The system generally includes the backboard, rim, net, and mounting kit.
- These systems are very permanent. They can’t be moved once installed and can be challenging to install.
- Offer excellent stability.
- An extension mounting kit is usually needed when attaching to a wall so the basket is far enough away to allow safe play.
Step 3: Ask yourself “What do I really need?”
After you determine who is going to be using it, and where you want to put it, things start to get a little confusing. There are literally hundreds of options, but when you are looking at a basketball system configuration, you really only need to focus on its three most important components: the backboard, pole, and rim.
The main considerations in a backboard are the backboard size and the backboard material.
The size of your playing area should really dictate how large the backboard should be, though skill level also play
s a part in selecting a backboard size. Since high school and college use standard 72-inch backboards, many people like to purchase this size to reproduce actual playing conditions. The standard backboard size for the NCAA or NBA is also 72 inches, but basketball backboards come in several sizes: 42-inch, 44-inch, 48-inch, 54-inch, 60-inch, and 72-inch.
Backboards on home systems usually fall in the 40-inch to 60-inch range and measure 5/16-inch to 1/2-inch thick. Regulation glass backboards measure in at 72 inches across, 42 inches high, and 1/2-inch thick.
The leading manufacturers, such as those found on Unique-Sports.com, construct backboards out of a variety of materials including fiberglass, graphite, acrylic, glass, steel, and aluminum. Although steel and aluminum hold up to a lot of abuse, glass and acrylic have the most professional look and provide the best play. Most home users prefer the outdoor durability of acrylic to fragile fiberglass, graphite, and other materials.
So how do you decide if you want glass or acrylic? Acrylic backboards look much like regular indoor baskets but are not as rigid as other materials. Most come with a steel frame for support. Glass backboards are the top choice for competitive leagues and players as it is the strongest and gives the best rebound. Aside from some plastic or wooden backboards, these two materials are the most widely used in a backboard construction.
If playability is more important to you than price, then a tempered glass backboard is the best option for you. This material has several benefits over acrylic. Tempered
glass, like the windshield of your car will stay crystal clear for the life of the basketball system. A regulation size glass backboard is 72-inches across, 42-inches high and about a ½-inch thick, while the backboards commonly used in school gymnasiums the world over are typically 40- to 60-inches in height and length, respectively. Moreover, a basketball backboard should produce an even after-bounce. In other words, the ball should rebound from the backboard at an even and straight bounce. The less dead spots, the better the backboard quality.
Additionally, a glass backboard should be rectangular and framed in either stainless steel or aluminum, the latter being the choice of the NBA and mos
t other regulation committees. Should you, on the other hand, choose a regular acrylic backboard, then square, semi-circular and fan shapes are all available on the market. Most retailers suggest that bigger is better, though depending on your individual needs, various sizes, choices, colors and team themes are obtainable.
When it comes to affordability, durability, and attractiveness, we recommend that you consider the advantages of an acrylic backboard. If you’re on a budget and still want a good sized clear backboard acrylic is the most affordable option. However, there are some drawbacks for advanced players. Most budget-friendly acrylic backboards come in ¼” thickness, but the metal framework needed to support, straighten, and stiffen the thin material can lead to an uneven surface. Uneven surfaces won't bother recreational players, however if this is a concern, we recommend you evaluate a glass or an acrylic backboard with at least ½” thickness - that will provide a higher quality and more consistent surface.
Basketball poles come in four, five, and six-inch sizes. Thicker poles offer greater stability and can support heavier backboards farther from the pole, creating a decent overhang to prevent a player from running full-speed into the pole itself. A six-inch pole can usually support a regulation 72-inch by 42-inch backboard with a four-foot overhang. Once you have determined the type, size, and installation of the pole we would highly recommend you consider purchasing some padding to surround that pole. Padding is important on all systems but extremely important if you have children or aggressive players. Pole padding will keep players from seriously hurting themselves if tripped, performing a lay-up or being pushed while underneath the basket.
Once you have a pole and backboard picked out, you will need a rim. The game is not much fun without a rim. All regulation rims are 18-inches in diameter and mounted at a 15-inch space from the center of the rim to the front of the backboard. It should be at least 5/8-inch thick and generally come in two distinct styles:
- Fixed rims: Fixed rims attach the rim directly to a backboard using a piece of metal. Fixed rims make a good choice for people who don't want to hang off the rim or practice dunking.
- Breakaway rims: Spring-loaded breakaway rims provide the flexibility needed to prevent a rim from breaking when a player hangs off the rim or frequently dunks a ball.
Step 4: Ask yourself “Do I still need more questions answered?”
If the answer is yes, then this is the easiest step of all… just pick up the phone and call us! The basketball product experts at Unique-Sports.com will be happy to answer any questions you may have, and make recommendations based on your intended use. We are here to help. Call us today at 1-800-297-0747!