Why do people search for a backstop netting solution? It’s ultimately to prevent the ball from either rolling down a steep hill or into vegetation like bushes or the woods. You basically want to keep the ball within the field of play and not have to go chasing it.
(I don’t know how some of you parents feel about it but there’s a subconscious part of me that feels kids should suffer for their sins of missing a shot and have to atone for said sins by having to run down and back up the hill or crawl into the bushes to get it. The fear of fetching outweighs the rewards of extra reps. But hey, that’s just me. I like to live old school.)
Speaking of old school, far be it for me to paraphrase the great Marine General, James Mattis, but I feel one of his quotes best sums up how I feel about sports netting.
To paraphrase his quote, “I come with the best advice I know. I’m not trying to sell you crap. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: if you don’t take my advice on sports netting, I’ll ignore you.” (He was a little more colorful.) The key part of this quote is the part that says, “With tears in my eyes.”
I have this tension because sports netting is a cause of serious tension for me. Why? I try to sell and install quality products but there is just not a quality out-of-the-box backstop netting solution on the market. There just isn’t. It’s all really poor quality.
Every out of the box backstop netting solution has one of the following qualities:
- Flimsy product that will fall apart in less than a year.
- Made of tent pole stakes that, again, will fall apart in less than a year.
- Isn’t cemented in the ground so the poles will lean over and fall down after the first heavy rain or winter thaw.
The inherit flaw of having something not fixed to two fully stable poles is you can’t get a sturdy enough or large enough system to meet your basic ball retention needs. Basically, in current configurations, they attach netting to the hoop or goal. As a result, the netting structure can’t be too heavy or the lacrosse or soccer goal itself will fall down. In the case of a basketball hoop, or the structure of the net itself can’t be too wide or heavy because it won’t be able to support itself.
Because of this, backstop nets don’t cover a wide enough distance to be useful for your court. You’re basically playing with a 10-foot wide net which will not provide the ‘Backstop’ you’re trying to achieve in the first place.
The common thread in all the out-of-the-box netting solutions is they won’t last and are inadequate to suit your purposes. So what is the solution?
I have two, both of which have the same basic solution. The backstop netting I suggest is setting two posts, running cabling between the two and hanging a net on it either via carabiners or zip ties.
Solution #1- Run a cable between two trees.
In this solution, the trees act as the posts. You then wrap cabling around the tree and then hang the netting via carabiners or zip ties.
This is a great setup, provided you have two trees that can be used as the pseudo posts. It’s much more doable with a lacrosse or soccer backstop goal as you can move your goal to accommodate the location of the trees.
It’s not so easy with a basketball hoop. You almost have to be lucky for a set up like this to work on a driveway basketball hoop set up.
When dealing with a driveway basketball hoop, most driveways are close to the home and typically don’t have the proper trees in which to attach cabling. If you even have trees, there is typically some sort of shrub or hedgerow which, again, are not conducive to attaching cabling. Therefore, in a driveway basketball hoop set up, your best bet is to set two pressure-treated wood posts and run cabling between them.
I will confess that one of the issues homeowners don’t like with this option is the permanency of the poles. I hear you but, like I mentioned, this is why netting is a source of tension for me. There’s no good solution. So I usually resort to what is most functional which is the pressure-treated wood post option.
Also, they may have permanency and some may not like the look but they look a lot better than a net that’s broken and hanging half off the hoop. In addition, the picture above is in the wide open and protecting the ball from going off the backend of a retaining wall. In most cases, the net and posts will be blending in to a backdrop of woods giving it a camouflaged feeling.
Materials Needed: I will have all of these items bundled in my shopping cart should you not want to be bothered with going to Home Depot and just want to buy them and have them shipped to you.
As for the netting itself, the easiest solution is to order it from Gourock.com by the panel. Choose the netting you’re going to need by the sport. For instance, a basketball backstop net will not require the same netting as a lacrosse backstop net. Take a look on their site. Their calculator is pretty easy to follow.
Knowledge base needed: I didn’t go through a step-by-step instructional on how to do this because there are too many tools and variables that, if you don’t have them or know how to do this, I don’t think you’re going to be able to wing it. It’s not that it’s exceptionally difficult or challenging. It’s that you either have the tools and skill set or you probably don’t. For instance, working with cabling can be a pain in the butt if you don’t have cable cutters. As is digging without a digging bar, post-hole digger or wheel barrow. You will also need a drill with a decent-length wood drill bit. If you have them, again, it’s easy. But going to buy them for this project is too cost prohibitive. (I hope I don’t sound like an a-hole. I’m just shooting you straight.)