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What should you look for when you shop a basketball hoop?

HAMMER Basketball-Ratgeber Kauf-Tipps Basketballkorb

Quality features - Pointers for buying a basketball system

Aside from its looks, you should make sure that the product quality is what you want. This can be divided up into a handful of aspects. We have put together a few points to look out for, to help you find the right basketball hoop for your intended location.

1. Material of the Hoop

A robust steel hoop will ensure optimal resilience. If the hoop is made of metal tubing, then it should have a minimum thickness of 19 mm. You or your kids won't have much fun for long with a low-quality, cheap and thin basketball hoop. Just the ball bouncing off the hoop can impact its shape over time or even break it. The material of which the hoop is made is therefore not just important in terms of how long it lasts, but is also a safety aspect.

An outdoor hoop should, of course, have a weatherproof coating or anti-corrosive paint to prevent rust.

Tip:

Buy a high-quality, durable model and make sure the hoop has the official diameter of 45 cm.

2. Suspension of the hoop

The suspension of the hoop is another key quality aspect. Some basketball systems feature a double pressure spring, which ensures the best possible bounce stability for the ball and can withstand dunking at full force.

Many players hang off the hoop for a second when they dunk. The weight will tilt the hoop forward a few centimetres and will then bounce back after release. Make sure you shop for a basketball hoop with the proper suspension if you and your friends love dunking.

3. Material of the Net

The net, which is usually hooked into the hoop, has two functions: Each successful throw is much easier to see for players, the referee and the audience. The net also slows the ball dropping through the hoop and allows it to usually fall straight down.

Basketball nets can be made of many different materials. We can recommend a robust nylon net for outdoor basketball. It will also be impervious to wind, rain and snow.

Fun Fact:

By the way: there are now also basketball nets with a "night light function", with which you could theoretically be able to play at night. The "glow-in-the-dark" principle improves the visibility of the net when the sun sets.

4. Stand

The stand should also be robust and weatherproof.

The stand is the connecting piece between the base and the backboard. It should be nice and sturdy if you want to enjoy your game without too much shakiness. However, the stand is often a very cheap piece of equipment and exactly the opposite of what you might call 'robust'. Make sure to have a closer look at the stand before you buy to check that it is well-made and not shaky.

You have the choice between stands consisting of a single piece, two or three pieces. Single-piece stands are, of course, the most robust.

5. Base

Another important quality feature is the base. The higher its volume capacity, the higher the stability of the entire basketball system – in other words: the entire structure.

There are many different sizes of bases available. The cheapest basketball systems come with a small base, featuring a volume capacity of around 50 litres. The more expensive and larger bases offer a volume capacity of 150–200 litres.

Tip:

Make sure to add some antifreeze if you are using water as your fill medium and if the basketball system will be staying outdoors all year round. Otherwise the expansion and contraction of freezing and thawing water could damage the corpus of the base.

A much better idea is to use sand for the base, as it is a lot denser than water and will therefore make the base a lot heavier. Filling the base with sand may be a little more difficult than using water, but the one-time effort is definitely worth it in the long run.

Caution!

Never play with an empty base! It is essential to fill the base before use to give it the necessary stability!

6. Height Adjustment

The ability to adjust the height of the hoop can be a decisive factor for game enjoyment. The basketball system will offer a lot of fun for kids and for adults, as it can be set to the perfect height for whomever is playing. Not all, but many basketball systems come with height adjustment, i.e. a quick and elegant option to set the hoop at a height for anyone playing.

If you have a height-adjustable basketball system, you can set the hoop lower to practice dunking or to play with younger players, for whom the regulation height would simply be too high. And it takes seconds to readjust the height to its original setting when you are done. A height-adjustable basketball stand therefore offers plenty of opportunities to combine your serious training with some fun.

Tip:

It is advisable to start at a much lower hoop height for kids and teens than you would use for adults. That is an especially good idea if you want them to learn the right throwing techniques right from the start – and the distance from a kid's hands to a hoop at 3.05 m height is simply too large. You might even say that height-adjustable basketball stands will 'grow' with the kids. When you look at it that way, you are making an investment into the future. (For professional players, the hoop is set to a height of exactly 3.05 m from the ground to the upper edge of the hoop)

There are various mechanisms to choose from in terms of setting a custom hoop height. Some of them are good, others not so much. Back in the day, you would use the famous broomstick to set the height of the hoop or you had to fumble in lofty heights to operate some sort of hinge. Here is a list of the most popular mechanisms currently on the market:

Telescopic Bar

The telescopic bar is basically the multi-part stand mentioned earlier. It can be extended like a telescope and is then fixed at a specific height with a tightening ring. Some of those telescopic bars feature a seamless, freely selectable setting, while others click into place at specific increments. Telescopic bars are the height-adjustment of choice for the less expensive models.

Broomstick Setting

The grid setting is a better option, in which the backboard is moved up and down and the bar remains at the same height. The grid settings are usually changed with the help of a broomstick, with which you release the lock to then move the hoop to the desired height.

Height-Adjustment via Handle

Things get a lot more manageable when the height-adjustment is done via a simple handle. To that end, a second rod behind the stand features a handle. Pressing the handle releases the rod and allows you to reduce the length of the stand, and with it, the height of the hoop. The construction locks into place when the handle is released. The good old broomstick is therefore obsolete, as anyone can reach the handle with ease.

Pneumatic Height Adjustment

This type of height-adjustment mechanism is easy to use. It also works with a handle, but has a seamless adjustment, which means there are no set locking points. The hoop will remain at the exact height you set once you release the handle. Pneumatic height adjustment mechanisms for basketball hoops are relatively rare in Europe, but not entirely unthinkable.

7. Material of the Backboard

The material of the backboard is a deciding factor for the bounce behaviour of the ball. And that is important in so many ways! On the one hand, it will allow you to physically predict the angle of bounce to land in the hoop, just like we are used to in professional systems, e.g. at school. And on the other, it offers a realistic way to practice your rebound.

Tip: Aiming at the outlined rectangle on the backboard makes it much easier to score.

A high-quality backboard will help convey a professional game experience. Lesser quality backboards often have the problem that the ball bounces back with either too much or too little force and can therefore not be comparable to training sessions in a sports hall.

Backboards come in a large variety of materials. The four most common are:

  • Acrylic Glass
  • Shatterproof Glass
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polyethylen/ABS

Acrylic Glass / Perspex

Acrylic glass is probably the most popular raw material for backboards. Acrylic glass is a highly heat-resistant resin, which is also known by the brand name Perspex. Acrylic glass has excellent rebound characteristics, which means that the ball will bounce off the backboard in a physically predictable direction. At the same time, the resin material optimally absorbs the ball spin and translates it into a change of direction. That is a particularly important aspect for long-distance throws or free-throws, in which the ball is intentionally thrown with a backward spin to make it fall straight into the hoop after it bounces off the backboard. Even a expertly executed layup that is released with a sideways spin will need a proper material to bounce off – like acrylic glass.

Shatterproof Glass

If your first priority when shopping is quality and performance, we recommend investing in a basketball system with a backboard made of shatterproof glass. These backboards have the same great play properties as acrylic glass, but are virtually indestructible and offer a very long service life. Such quality comes at a price: Basketball systems with a shatterproof backboard are among the most expensive in the market.

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate is basically the all-rounder among plastics. You will have seen the huge choice in terms of models if you have been shopping around for a basketball hoop. Hoops with a polycarbonate backboard mostly offer good value for money and good game properties. But: polycarbonate backboards are significantly inferior to their glass-based counterparts with regards to the physical predictiveness of rebounds. They are mostly palpably duller in their response and less agile in the translation of the ball spin.

Polyethylen / ABS

Polyethylene and ABS are the cheapest materials. These materials are usually used for backboards of less expensive basketball systems. The material is the dullest and ball rebounds are the least agile on these backboards. This negative effect can be further exacerbated by a rickety overall construction. You should only resort to models with a PE backboard if you really want to save money.

8. Dimensions of the Backboard

A backboard you use at home doesn't have to have the enormous dimensions as the ones used by the NBA (183 x 110 cm), but it should be big enough to allow you practice throws from all directions. The ideal size allows proper rebounds, so that you can play 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 with ease. A good guideline for the width of the backboard is at least 100 cm. Backboards under 100 cm wide will restrict your game to mainly simple, frontal throws. A layup, aimed at one of the corners of the outlined rectangle and played from one side might become problematic with such a small backboard. And there is the added issue of having to run after the ball quite frequently after a missed throw.

Bottom line:

There are quite a few details to think about before buying a basketball hoop if you want to purchase something of quality. And you should do just that, because the enjoyment of the game and your personal safety should be paramount. The old saying "buy cheap and buy twice" definitely applies.

Here are some final shopping tips before you get on your way:

Hoop and pole: If at all possible, avoid the very thin, cheap models. You won't get much enjoyment out of these. Check all the welding seams, especially the seam between the hoop and the retaining struts, as that is the most vulnerable point. We recommend buying a basketball system with a hoop consisting of tubing that is at least 19 mm thick.

Backboard: The backboard should be at least 100 cm wide to give you the full range of play options. The material of the backboard also plays an important role – make sure it is of good quality.

Height: You are definitely best served with a height-adjustable hoop. A height-adjustable basketball stand will 'grow' with the kids. When you look at it that way, you are making an investment into the future. The basketball system should definitely allow the regulation hoop height of 3.05 m.

Portable Basketball Hoop: One big advantage of basketball systems with a base is that they are portable and can be moved or relocated as needed. They are, however, never as robust as in-ground systems. The base should be large enough to allow a volume capacity of sand or water large enough to give the base secure stability.

InGround Basketball Hoop: All these systems are highly robust and very good quality. Buying one of these will mean guaranteed years of enjoyment. And, though they might not look it at first glance: even these systems are somewhat portable! You can always buy another ground anchor, find another position and install the hoop again. The "anchor kit" is a universal component and therefore not tied to a specific location or one-time installation.

Read More: Which Basketball Hoop Should I Buy?

Find the right hoop for your game. Click here to get an overview of all basketball hoops!