Basketball at its core requires only two things: a basketball and a basketball hoop. There are certainly other elements that are required for an official game of basketball, but the ball and hoop are the essential requirements. Let's take a look at why the hoop is a core element of basketball and the various styles it comes in.
What are basketball hoops used for?
The basketball hoop is one of the most integral parts of the game because in order to make a basket, you need a hoop. In the earliest days of basketball, a hoop was nothing more than an elevated peach basket. That original basket was mounted to a railing with no backboard. The modern basketball hoop consists of a net dangling from a metal rim, which is connected to a backboard. That backboard is then connected to another surface to keep the hoop 10 feet above the playing surface.
The NBA has a strict set of rules regarding its hoops. All NBA backboards must be transparent and measure 6 feet wide by 3.5 feet tall, while the metal rim must be exactly 18 inches in diameter and the net be 18 inches long. Former NBA player Shaquille O'Neal managed to break several backboards over the course of his career, so it makes sense that all NBA teams are required to keep a spare backboard on-site for games.
Things To Consider
When looking for a basketball hoop, you'll want to consider the following:
- Will you be using your hoop indoors or outdoors?
- How tall do you want your hoop to be?
- Do you want your hoop to be able to adjust heights?
- How much do you want to spend on a basketball hoop?
- Do you want to be able to move your hoop to a different location?
Like any piece of equipment, your intended use and preferences are going to determine which style you should buy, so let's take a look at the different types of basketball hoops that are most common today.
An in-ground basketball hoop is a backboard and rim connected to a metal pole that is rooted in the ground. This is the sturdiest type of hoop, but it is immovable and requires special installation with concrete, which results in a high cost. Due to the difficult nature of installation, permanence, and high cost these are usually found in public parks or areas. The height of the hoop is also determined during installation.
Mounted basketball hoops pay homage to the original hoops by connecting to and relying upon another surface. These can be mounted to any surface stable enough to support the weight of the hoop. These are commonly seen outside of garages or the walls of a gymnasium. Similar to in-ground hoops, the height of mounted hoops is determined during installation. Mounted hoops are typically the cheapest type of hoop.
A portable basketball hoop is a backboard and rim attached to a pole stemming from a wide, sturdy base that has wheels on the bottom. This is the style of hoop used in the NBA. Portable hoops are easily transported and typically height-adjustable. Due to the flexibility in environment and use, portable hoops tend to be more expensive than mounted hoops, but the ease of assembly instead of installation makes them cheaper than in-ground hoops.
The variation of material when it comes to backboards affects the performance of the hoop in terms of durability and recoil.
- Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate is a typically strong plastic material, but it is weakened when exposed to UV light. As a result, polycarbonate hoops left outside will deteriorate in quality after 3-5 years. This is the softest of the materials, so it has the most flexibility.
- Steel: A steel backboard is going to be the most durable, but that strength results in a backboard that gives harsh bounces on shots.
- Tempered Glass: Tempered glass is a strengthened, heavier form of glass that is highly durable. The NBA and other official games of basketball all use hoops made with tempered glass. It has nearly no give, but isn't as harsh as steel and is transparent like NBA rules mandate.
There are a number of different producers of basketball hoops, but to keep it from getting overly complicated, let's take a look at three of the most popular brands: Goaliath, Lifetime, and Spalding.
- Goaliath: Goaliath produces only in-ground and mounted hoops with a focus on training hoops and a lower price point. Goaliath offers four styles of in-ground hoop and two styles of mounting hoops.
- Lifetime: Lifetime offers a wide range of basketball hoops ranging in both price and style suitable for any level player. It has the largest price range of the three, while offering upwards of 30 different hoop styles.
- Spalding: Spalding is focused on high-quality hoops that come with a higher price tag. As the official hoop brand for the highest levels of basketball, Spalding hoops are primarily designed for the most serious basketball players looking to invest in their game.
When choosing a basketball hoop there are a number of important factors to consider including the durability of the hoop, the cost, and the size.
As with most products, the higher price point brings along a higher quality product, which means more durability. The location of the hoop is the biggest factor in the durability. Outdoor weather conditions are likely to do a number on the hoop over the years regardless of the material leading to maintenance, while indoor hoops shouldn't need to be replaced often, if ever.
The cost of a hoop is largely dependent upon the type of hoop, but there are other factors like backboard size, brand, and hoop quality. Across most brands when the backboard is the same size, in-ground hoops are the most expensive, mounted hoops are the least expensive, and portable hoops fall in between. For an in-ground hoop, prices can get as high as $2000+ or as low as $215, while most are in the $500-$800 range. For a portable hoop, prices range from $160-$1000, while they primarily are in the $200-$500 range. Mountable hoops cost between about $125 to $350 typically.
When purchasing a basketball hoop they can be bought with varying backboard sizes. The backboard size certainly plays a part in the cost of the hoop with larger backboards costing more. For young kids, investing in a cheaper youth hoop might make sense. However, the largest determining factor in what size hoop you buy is ultimately your budget and preference. A bigger backboard prevents more misses, but there's no need to purchase a hoop with a NBA regulation-size backboard for your personal use.
What are the best basketball hoops?
When choosing a basketball hoop it is important to consider durability, cost, size, brand, and materials. We've compiled the best basketball hoops for you.
How tall is a typical basketball hoop?
The typical basketball hoop is 10 feet tall given that every official game of basketball played at the professional, college, and high school level requires a hoop at that height. If you decide to mount your own hoop or put one in the ground, you can choose how high you would like the hoop to be. Some hoops on the market come with the option to adjust the height of the rim.
How much does a basketball hoop cost?
A basketball hoop can cost anywhere from $160-$2000+ depending on the type, brand, and size. Most in-ground hoops cost between about $500-$800, while portable hoops cost between $200-$500. Mounted hoops only cost in the $150-$250 range, but they can get up to $350 if you're looking to purchase a high-end mounted hoop.
What are the different kinds of basketball hoops?
There's primarily three different kinds of basketball hoops: in-ground, mounted, and portable. In-ground hoops are rooted in concrete and are only used outdoors. Mounted hoops require a stable surface to mount the hoop from. They must be installed properly because they aren't easy to move. Portable basketball hoops are the easiest to move as the name implies and they're also the easiest to adjust in terms of height as they often come with a height-adjusting mechanism.