As the weather is starting to get warmer, now is a great time to start thinking about a basketball system for your home! But with so many options available in the marketplace, just how do you choose? Let’s talk about the different features of these systems offered by manufacturers and what they mean to you, and how you can keep your system looking and performing like new for years to come.
Most inground residential basketball systems are comprised of square steel posts which are powder-coated for a sleeker look and to prevent rust in outdoor settings. Play level and budget are things to consider when choosing your system’s post size, as many manufacturers offer several sizes from which to choose, from 4” post width all the way up to 8”. Smaller posts are generally offered with smaller boards sizes for light play settings or those looking for an economical system, while the beefier posts are usually paired with regulation size boards and may include more options for customers wanting units with a more professional feel.
PlayRx TIP: Surface mount or “bolt to ground” posts are a versatile option because this type of post is easier to install and allows you to relocate your system or take it with you if you move.
Will young children be playing on your home system, or do you have a beginner player that is just learning the game? Then you may want to consider purchasing an adjustable system that allows the backboard to be raised and lowered to different heights. Most premium residential systems will include an actuator mechanism with a crank handle to easily adjust the board height from 6’ to regulation 10’. A fixed system is more economical and may be a better fit if you don’t need the board to be lowered for younger players.
PlayRx TIP: Consider putting a padlock or other locking device on your adjustment mechanism to prevent unauthorized use or tampering with the system when you are not at home.
Backboard size and material are important factors in choosing a system because they both greatly affect playability. Many manufacturers offer their systems with a variety of backboard materials, with the most popular being acrylic, polycarbonate, and glass. Acrylic boards are a popular option because they are typically offered in several sizes to fit your play style, from the smaller 36” x 48” size all the way up to competition 42” x 72” size. Acrylic is lightweight, economical, and stronger than glass, but it can get cloudy or develop a yellowish color over time. Polycarbonate boards are extremely heavy-duty and can stand up to even the roughest play. These boards are often touted as “bulletproof”, thus making them a smart choice in urban areas where the system may be susceptible to vandalism. Glass is perhaps the most popular backboard material for home systems because it will deliver the best rebound, sound, and overall playability that mimics the professional systems found in NBA arenas and top universities. Unfortunately, despite its strength, glass is susceptible to shattering if a rock or other sharp object is thrown at it, so you will want to take that into consideration if you are in a location where frequent vandalism occurs. In addition to the backboard material, you will also want to consider the size of the board. A smaller board size, such as 36” x 48” or 34” x 54”, will be less expensive and sufficient for younger players and light play settings. On the other hand, a regulation size 42” x 72” board will simulate the competition-level play of an NBA board and is a good choice for full-size courts and heavy play environments.
PlayRx TIP: When purchasing a glass board system, make sure that the glass is tempered. Tempered glass is stronger and it will break into smaller rounded pieces versus sharp jagged pieces in the event that shattering occurs.
All residential basketball systems will have one of two types of basketball goals (rims) – either fixed or breakaway. A fixed rim is not movable, while a breakaway rim contains springs which allow the rim to move down when a player dunks or hangs on the rim. Most home systems will include breakaway rims, but some of the smaller budget systems may be offered with simple fixed rims, especially if they are geared towards youth players who won’t be hanging on the goal. It is generally advisable to have a breakaway rim with any backboard that could possibly break or shatter, i.e. glass, acrylic, or polycarbonate, because breakaway rims put less stress on the backboard when dunking occurs.
PlayRx TIP: Look for home systems that have a “direct goal” attachment, which means that the extension arm, backboard, and goal are all attached together in one spot. This transfers any weight from dunking directly to the steel extension arm rather than the backboard.
Once you have decided on a basketball system, now it’s time to start thinking about accessories you may need to help you get the most out of your home court set up. Perhaps the most important accessory to think about is padding. Backboard and pole pads are strongly recommended to prevent head and body injury due to contact with the backboard or post, while base pads are encouraged for covering mounting hardware in order to prevent tripping and foot injuries. Many companies offer these pads in a variety of colors and graphic options to fit your court style. In addition, court marking stencils, ball return nets, and actuator locking devices are all popular accessories to help complete your court.
PlayRx TIP: Check to see if the system includes board and pole padding before buying. Some manufacturers will offer complete systems which include these pads, while others may have these as add-on items.
Proper maintenance of your home basketball system is extremely important for the safety of your players and the longevity of the unit. At the beginning of the playing season, check to make sure all moving parts are functioning properly and lubricate if necessary. Ensure that all bolts are tightened and replace any rusted hardware. Above all, always follow the equipment manufacturer’s recommendations regarding maintenance of your particular unit, and purchase replacement parts through them whenever possible. If you have the space, consider moving your bolt-to-ground system to an indoor storage area during particularly cold or wet winter months, as limiting exposure to harsh weather conditions will also help prolong the life of your system.
PlayRx TIP: Clean acrylic boards with soap and water instead of glass cleaner. Glass cleaners will leave a residue on the acrylic, causing it to look cloudy.
PlayRx TIP: If purchasing replacement hardware from a local store, make sure to purchase zinc-plated hardware, which will resist rusting in outdoor conditions.
Article by: Gared Sports