I have installed over five thousand basketball hoops. I am the Bubba Gump of basketball hoops. “I know everything there is to know about basketball hoops.” Over this time, the same number of people have trusted/asked my advice on the best hoop selection for their home. In this post and the videos you see below, I’m hoping to give you all the info you’ll ever need to make a sound purchasing decision. (And also to know more about basketball hoops then you will ever possibly need to know.)
(Truthfully, I saw Henry Rollins on Joe Rogan’s podcast and he talked about getting information processed quickly and published. So I have had all this information in the deep recesses of my brain on basketball hoops that I’ve wanted to publish for years. It’s been haunting me mercilessly.)
So here you go. It may seem long but I try my best to give you the info quickly. It’s all bulleted and all of the videos are under 60 seconds. Enjoy!
If you want to skip all the below info, feel free to reach out to me with the contact form at the bottom of the post. (I will never send you ANY unsolicited texts, emails or calls.)
Why buy a hoop? Of all the pieces of sports equipment to purchase for your child, a basketball hoop is one of the best investments you can make both in your child and your self (emphasis on SELF). It gets your child out of the house which leaves you with more peace and quiet. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. They get exercise too.)
In speaking with thousands of customers, I’ve boiled the purchasing decision down to three questions:
- How old are your kids? Why do I ask this? Adjustable-height hoops adjust to two heights, 7’5″ and 5’5″. If you have very young kids, they won’t be able to shoot on a hoop that adjusts down to 7’6″. So it may make sense to go with a higher-end hoop that adjusts down to 5′. If your kids are younger and you don’t have the money, maybe you wait to buy one until they’re a little older.
- How serious of players are they? If you’re just looking for something to shoot around on, an entry-level hoop is fine. (Larry Bird grew up in French Lick, Indiana and played on dirt with a hoop mounted to a telephone pole.) If they’re serious, maybe you want to go with a higher quality hoop.
- How big/small is your playing space? Obviously, you can be limited by your driveway playing space. For instance, my driveway is small. A 42″X72″ backboard will overpower my space.
Adjustable or fixed? There are some purists that believe kids should be practicing on the official height of 10′. Personally, I think people like this are a buzzkill. Let kids have fun with trick shots and dunking. Pete Marovich is considered one of the purist shooters in NBA history and his dad had him playing on an adjustable-height hoop growing up. So if it’s good enough for Pistol Pete, it’s good enough for you.
- There is a negligible difference in price between adjustable and fixed.
- It gives you more flexibility. What if you have a party and there are young kids? It gives them something to keep them occupied and playing.
- There’s no difference in the quality of play. Some people feel a fixed-height hoop is more sturdy. It’s not. So why not go with the hoop with more options?
Acrylic or tempered-glass backboard? Unless you’re looking to avoid vandalism, I recommend tempered glass. It’s just a better quality of play. If it wasn’t, the NBA, NCAA and high schools wouldn’t use glass. The only time I recommend acrylic is if you’re mounting a backboard to a wall and you’re concerned with the weight of a glass backboard.
- Acrylic gets a chalky look over time. Glass does not.
- There’s a negligible difference in price so you’re not saving money by going acrylic.
- I’ve installed hundreds of glass backboards in public places and have never had a problem with vandalism. You have to throw a direct shot at the board. The only time this happens is inside gyms with stray baseballs and lacrosse balls. (There’s a fine line between vandalism and boys that play lacrosse/baseball that act like knuckleheads. Boys will be boys.)
Glass thickness is a question I sometimes get asked. Although I say in the below video it’s not important, it is. It’s just that it pretty much comes standard in most high-end hoops so you really shouldn’t worry too much about it. There are different thicknesses but it’s more dependent on the price point, not so much the brand or your selection.
42″X72″ Basketball Backboard– This is a cool option to have, especially when you consider you’re going to have the hoop for 15-20 years.
- It’s the same size backboard they use in games. So if giving them a realistic playing experience while they practice is important, a regulation-sized backboard may be important.
- It can overpower the playing space if you have a small driveway.
- Because it’s the biggest backboard, it’s going to be in the higher end of price ranges.
36″X60″ Backboard– This is the most popular size as it falls into the middle range. Most people don’t want to go big but they’re willing to cough up a couple bucks to upgrade over the 36″X54″
- Price difference between 36″X60 and 36″X54″ is negligible so why not go with the bigger backboard?
- It’s not that much bigger. It’s only 3″ more on either side relative to the 36″X54″.
- Some people prefer the more rectangular look to the more square look of the smaller backboard.
36″X54″ Backboard– It’s more than enough, from a size standpoint, when you consider 95% of the shots are taken at the rim.
- If you have a tight space, it makes sense to go with a smaller backboard.
- Although the price difference between this and the next size up is negligible, it’s still less expensive if you’re in a situation where every dollar counts.
- As stated, most of your shots are taken at the rim.
Arena-view Backboard– This is when there’s no visual steel H-frame or I-frame on the backboard as everything attaches to the outside frame of the backboard. This is important to some people and is standard on all the higher-end hoops.
Breakaway rims– This is the roughly 2″- 4″ give you get when you pull or hang on the front of the rim. Almost all higher-end hoops will have a breakaway rim. Some advertise 180′ breakaway rims. (Whatever. As I said, Larry Bird grew up playing on a rim attached to a telephone pole.)
Steel specs– Descriptions come in two forms, the dimensions of the pole and the wall thickness.
- Dimensions of the pole– You’ll hear specs such as 6″X8″ post or 4″X4″. These are the width dimensions of the pole. It is an important factor but some hoops are totally over-engineered. For instance, if you have the money, it’s cool to have a 12″X8″ post. If you don’t, it’s not like you’re hoop is shaking in a stiff breeze or when a ball hits it.
- Wall thickness– You will also hear sites making references like 7-gauge, 5-gauge or 11-gauge, What they’re referring to is the wall thickness of the steel. The lower the gauge, the thicker the steel wall and stronger the hoop. Again, over-engineering. I’ve seen advertisements of hoops hanging Harleys. Why (Or WTF) do you need that much strength for when you’re shooting an air-filled ball at it?
Hoop Overhang– This refers to the distance between the front face of the pole and the front face of the backboard. It’s important when determining how far you want the backboard to stick out into the playing space.
It’s generally a pretty easy question. You get a hoop, you put it on the side of the driveway. Right? As my mother likes to say, “Not so fast there, Abernathy.” There can be certain issues that can complicate the hoop overhang selection.
- Are there sprinklers or a wall that require you to move the post back?
- Do you have a narrow driveway and not have a lot of space in front of the hoop?
- Are there brick pavers under the backboard and you don’t want kids turning their ankles?
(Thankfully, there are several brands that have a Swiss Army Knife collection of features that can pretty much accommodate any scenario. Feel free to reach out to me if you have a unique hoop scenario.)
How easy is it to adjust? Incredibly easy. See the video below. I will say this, though. It can take time and bears a strong resemblance to being a grinder on a sailboat team. There’s a lot of cranking but it’s only for about 30 seconds and there’s no regatta on the line.
What is the installation process?
- After you buy the hoop, it will be shipped to you.
- It will arrive, most likely, on your driveway on a long pallet. There are some companies that will deliver it inside your garage.
- You or the installer schedule 811. This is required by law to make sure the installer doesn’t cut a gas, cable or other important underground line.
- 811 DOES NOT identify sprinkler lines.
- 811 in my area is pretty quick. It takes roughly 3-5 days. If timed properly, it can be coordinated with the delivery of the hoop.
- Once your property is “marked out”, the installer digs the hole and sets the anchor kit.
- 3-5 days later, the installer assembles your hoop. Kids are playing same day.
There are a great deal of additional questions I get asked relative to individual brands. I will be following up this post shortly with a post dedicated to those questions. I will have more to say but I have to post this post for fear of suffering paralysis by analysis.