Before you go out and make an investment in a basketball hoop, there are a few things you should consider and be able to answer before you decide on the best basketball system for YOU!
The very first thing you need to decide is if you want a portable basketball system, an in-ground basketball system or a wall-mounted backboard. There are definitely benefits to all three, it just depends on what your at-home setup is!
A portable basketball system (which this website is all about!) is best for those that want to be able to possibly move the basketball hoop in the future, those who want to be able to adjust the height of the basketball hoop easily and those who have a flat surface such as at the end of the driveway to place the hoop. Portable basketball hoops are the most commonly bought type of basketball system and there are so many various types of hoops that you can even further narrow down which one is right for you! If you want, head to Amazon to see the large selection of portable basketball hoops that are available on the market before you read my reviews!
An in-ground basketball system is more of an investment because it becomes a permanent fixture in the place you decide to house it. You primarily see these on playgrounds, but still some people choose to use an in-ground basketball system at their home. One of the main benefits of these hoops is that they are sturdier in weather, winds and in overall vibration when shooting hoops. Now, if you’re located in an area known for high winds and damaging weather, this may certainly be the best option for you. Most of us only have to deal with these extreme conditions once in a while, and for those instances, a portable hoop is plenty sturdy enough, not to mention, it can always be wheeled in a garage or sheltered from extreme weather. The main advantage of these systems, in my opinion, is that, when installed correctly, vibration is almost completely removed from the basketball hitting the backboard. When hoops are very unsteady and the ball hits the backboard, you can notice a “deadening” of the ball, causing it to not bounce naturally off of the backboard.
A wall mounted backboard is perfect for those with not a ton of room outdoors to set up a portable or in-ground system. You can easily mount these backboards on the side of a house, garage, or other flat surface. They also provide a great deal of stability and sturdiness.
Who is going to be using your hoop?
Answering this question will definitely help you make the decision above. Elementary school leagues normally use a 5-7 foot hoop; youth leagues use an 8-9 foot hoop and junior high school is the normal 10 foot height. The best decision, in my opinion, is to get a hoop that can grow with you!
What are the best brands of basketball hoops?
There are a few very well known brands that make great basketball hoops, and these days, you can literally purchase a basketball hoop that looks like the portable hoops that are setup for NBA games! Trust me, if I had the money, I’d be buying those, but you really don’t need to be spending $5,000 on a basketball hoop (or even $1,000!). You can still get all the important features and a very sturdy, long-lasting basketball hoop for much, much less.
Some of the brands that produce the more professional (but very pricey!) basketball hoops are Goalrilla, First Team and Mammoth. These, like I said, are beautiful basketball systems, and no doubt, extremely high quality, but usually a little bit more expensive than is really necessary. The brands that I will be recommending and reviewing here are Lifetime and Spalding. There are many, many models all with different features to suite your needs. The best part is, you are going to be getting a high quality basketball system without breaking the bank!
Backboards come in a variety of shapes, sizes and are constructed of different materials. Personally, the most important factor in purchasing a basketball system is that the backboard is the proper size and shape. At this point when you’re making an investment in a basketball system, they are all going to be constructed of a tough, durable and well-tested material makeup.
The most common type of backboard that will be in the basketball systems I am recommending is good old plastic! There are various types and if we want to get technical, they are referred to as polycarbonates and in the descriptions online, you’ll see them trademarked as Lexan, Makrolon and Makroclear. They are perfect for the type of usage you are looking for and are dense and sturdy enough that you don’t need to worry about them being overexposed in the elements, or shattered with a bit of rough play. Professional indoor systems are often made of shatterproof glass and reinforced many times over, which is extremely costly, and just not too practical for most people!
Backboard Sizes and Shapes
The sizes and shapes of the backboards are most important when you are buying a basketball hoop. First and foremost, I am adamant that you should be buying a rectangular-shaped backboard. There are some (usually lesser-priced models) that have a fan-shaped backboard. This is a mistake – I promise you!
The first reason is for repetition and cognitive memory practices. When you’re growing up and really learning the game, practicing everyday, you build muscle memory and visual memory. When you’re practicing everyday on a fan-shaped backboard and then go to school and are playing on a rectangular-shaped backboard, your brain doesn’t immediately recognize that fan-shaped backboard as the same hoop you were practicing on—your visual perception will be off, and the result most likely will be different. It is like the saying, “You Should Practice Just Like You Play!”
The second reason I am recommending rectangular-shaped backboards is for the old-school bank shots. You want the maximum amount of backboard space and a fan-shaped backboard just won’t be able to give you this. In addition, a backboard should be at least 42 inches for the same reason.
There are a variety of backboard sizes, but I feel that in order to truly be able to practice how you play, you will need at least a 42 inch, rectangular backboard.
This isn’t really something you need to heavily research unless you are buying a competitive indoor system and there is going to be heavy rim play (aka dunking!). All of the rims of the basketball systems I am going to be recommending have a diameter of 18 inches (standard) and the actual rim will have a diameter of 5/8th of an inch with steel support braces. This is plenty sturdy and strong enough for dunking, heavy play, and withstanding the elements. Of course, please do know that if you are planning on having a 250lb man dunking on this system everyday, you may want to consider purchasing an in-ground system with a hoop that specifically withstands very strong force. I think that is common sense, but just had to say it!
Now, this is a personal preferences and most hoops have the white nylon mesh cord. Sometimes on playgrounds, you’ll see the chain-linked basketball hoops, but those are put there because they obviously last longer, and many people like the sound effects of a basketball hitting the chain! For personal use, however, the white nylon mesh cord looks nicer and I actually love the sound of the swoosh that comes from the nylon nets. They are very inexpensive, and you can even put them in the wash if they start getting too dirty.
I really only like to recommend basketball systems that are investments because I feel strongly about making sure your hoop can grow with you. This actually cuts down costs in the long run!
If the goal is to introduce the sport to your children and they aren’t quite old enough to reach a full 10ft. rim, you want to make sure your hoop is adjustable in height (which most are these days). One really, really important thing I like to mention (this is the coach coming out in me) is that if you feel your child is at the point of being able to shoot at a 6ft tall hoop, but isn’t quite able to make it to 7.5 feet yet, you STILL purchase the hoop that starts with it’s lowest adjustment at 7.5 feet. This should NOT be a deterrent in the type of hoop you buy. Here is the logic, if you go now and purchase a hoop because it goes down lower than 7.5 feet, it only takes about another couple months of practice before they will be able to reach the next height. It also gives them something to strive for, instead of settling.
Many of the youth models go lower than 7ft, but I’m telling you, it’s NOT worth purchasing! You’re just going to have to go out and purchase another hoop –trust me!! The youth models are not as sturdy and are great to pass down, but not great to grow with!! You will thank me later.
Back to adjustability, you really just want to make sure that the height is easily adjustable and there are many different hoop heights possible. Most of the hoops I am recommending have ½ foot increments, which seems to work great.
These days, the actual act of adjusting a hoop is very easy and kids and teens can easily do it themselves, but I will go into more depth about each of the mechanisms in the product reviews.
Most of my reviews are based around portable basketball systems, and so the idea about portability is obviously very important, in my opinion! Portable basketball systems give you the flexibility to move them if necessary, while still being sturdy, reliable, and versatile. Most of the portable basketball systems require you to put water or sand in the base in order to balance it. A lot of people choose to do different things—some use water and put a bit of antifreeze inside (if they live in a colder climate), others use sand which works great, but isn’t as easy to pour out, and some use water and then drain it and bring it in the garage when it’s just too cold to play outside anyway!
Growing up, I always kept my hoop outside because I was such a diehard basketball player that I would go outside even when it was below freezing to play. We never actually put any anti-freeze inside and never had a problem with the base of our hoop!
Now this is VERY important! As you know, I only review quality products and I know that you do truly pay for what you get when buying a basketball hoop.
What you need to realize when deciding which basketball hoop is right for you is that assembly is going to be required, no matter which hoop you choose! There is no way around it. SO many of the reviewers who choose to give their opinion of the hoop write about how assembly took longer than they wanted and it was a big pain in the butt!
I’ll tell you this right now….assembly is not fun! But again, no matter what hoop you choose, assembly is necessary. I have tried to make it as easy as possible by providing instructions for putting each hoop together so you can take a look over it beforehand and gather any additional tools you may need.
Many complaints were that the customer didn’t fill the portable base with water or sand after standing the hoop up, which caused it to fall over. Well, this is common sense, and the directions say to do so! In my opinion, you cannot give a bad review of a basketball hoop for something that is clearly stated in the instructions.
Putting together any of these basketball hoops I recommend will take you between 2 and 4 hours. Just give yourself a little bit of time, ask someone to help you, and you should have no problem!
If you want to skip to the chase and find the best price on basketball hoops, you need to go to Amazon to find the cheapest prices and best basketball hoops.