When choosing an adjustable basketball goal there are several options available when it comes to the adjustment "method" for moving the basket up and down. Below you will find a synopsis of the five most popular adjustment styles and the benefits of each.
STICK ADJUST - The first and most basic adjustment method is often referred to as the "stick adjust." This is a basketball goal that is moved up and down by using a broom handle, dowel rod or other type of stick. To move the goal down, a broom handle is inserted into the adjustment latch located directly behind the backboard. When the latch is released, the weight of the backboard and goal is transferred to the stick and the basket is lowered to its lowest height, generally 7 1/2'. The goal can be adjusted to other rim heights by using the same stick to push up on the bottom of the backboard. The backboard can be adjusted in six inch increments from 7 1/2' to 10'. While raising the backboard, you will hear a "click" at each height setting. The stick adjust method is very quick and a great choice for economy. The stick adjust style is also a great choice for the family looking for a goal that is quick and easy for dad or mom to regulate, but not the kids. Generally, stick adjust units are too difficult for kids under the age of 13 to adjust on their own. As with most adjustable goal types, the stick adjust style is available in both lower end as well as higher end quality versions. One side note to point out is that generally the higher end stick adjust models are manufactured with an adjustable arm system that is U-bolted to the vertical post. This allows the adjustable arm system to be assembled to the post at a lower height on the post, the unit can then utilize its 2 1/2' range of adjustment to meet lower rim heights if desired.
PIN ADJUST - The second style of adjustable goal is know as "pin adjust." This adjustment method is also very quick and reasonably easy for older children. The pin adjust is a spring balanced basketball goal (some styles use a weighted handle instead of springs). There is a removable pin located on the backside of the basketball post. The weight of the backboard and rim is counterbalanced by springs or a weighted handle. After the pin is removed, the backboard and rim can easily be moved up and down in six inch increments. Push the pin back into the handle at the desired playing height. Pin adjust style units are generally adjustable from 10' down to 7'. Pin adjust units are easy to move up and down and very safe. When the pin is removed the backboard will not move unless pressure is applied to the handle. Typically, 4th grade and up can operate pin adjust style units.
FRONT CRANK - The third style category is the "front crank". This adjustment style is easy for anyone over the age of 10. Front crank style units have a screw actuator mounted in the extension arm system located on the front side of the basketball post. A separate handle with a hook on one end is provided with the basketball goal. The actuator is equipped with a loop at the bottom end. The hook on the handle is inserted into the loop on the actuator. Then by twisting the crank handle the actuator extends or retracts resulting in the raising or lowering of the backboard. The front crank style basketball goal is a good choice particularly if you want to mount your basketball goal up against a wall or other obstruction that prevents rear access to the post. One downside to front crank style goals is that since the handle is separate from the basketball goal, it may become lost. As with most adjustment styles, front crank units can be found in lower end, lower cost brands as well as higher end, more costly versions.
REAR CRANK - The "rear crank" adjustment style is easily the most popular style of adjustment. Rear crank adjustable basketball goals utilize an adjustment actuator similar to that used on a front crank style unit except the actuator is mounted on the back side of the basketball post. The rear crank has a built in handle that can be turned clockwise or counterclockwise to raise or lower the basket. The handle is typically located approx. 4' above ground making it easy to reach for young children. Rear crank units are most commonly adjustable from 10' down to 7 1/2', but units that adjust lower are also available. Rear crank styles are the easiest type of goal to adjust for any age group. Again, rear cranking goals can be found in low end as well as high end versions.
GAS ASSIST - Basketball units that utilize gas filled cylinders to provide the lifting force required to raise the weight of the basket are known as "gas assist." These units employ a single gas filled cylinder or group of cylinders on the back side of the basketball post to "lift" the backboard and rim when a trigger handle is squeezed on the post. Gas assist units are an effort to blend the convenience of the rear crank with the speed of the pin adjust. Generally, these units seem to work reasonably well for adults, but are too difficult for kids 6th grade or younger. Higher end units with heavier backboards may require a grown adult to raise the basket. High end and low end models are available in gas assist styles.
There are still adjustable basketball goals on the market that utilize a cable attached to a winch that is wound up or down to raise or lower the basket. Though this style was dominant in the early years of adjustable goal development, it has mostly been phased out as better, safer options have evolved.
About the Author
Jeff Roth has been involved in the design and manufacture of basketball goals and sports equipment for over 16 years. He is employed at First Team Sports, Inc. in Hutchinson, KS. Learn all about First Team's full line of sports equipment at www.firstteaminc.com