How to buy an Inground Basketball System


Why buy an inground system? You want to save the space that the  base takes up on a portable system, you want a strong and secure installation for maximum playability and you want a clean look that is going to enhance the appearance of your home. Once you have decided that an in ground system is the right choice for you, how do select from the literally hundreds of options? Just follow this guide:


The first step is to understand that there will be an inevitable balancing of budget and features. If price is not an option, then selecting will become a relatively simple process. If like most of us there are budget constraints, you will need to weigh what features are important to you against their cost. Here is a list of features and their differentiation:


Backboards : You need to select a backboard size and a backboard material. The four basic materials are glass, acrylic , fiberglass, aluminum and steel . The last three are typically institutional alternatives and will not be covered here. The main residential options are glass and acrylic. For optimal rebound, glass is the top choice. There will be variations in the thickness of the glass. Typical options are 3/8”  and ½”. The thicker the glass, the better the rebound action and the less fragile the backboard is. Acrylic is 10 times stronger and less expensive than glass. While the rebound effect is not as good on an acrylic system, there are a lot of things that manufacturers can do to make the action very close to glass. For best action on an acrylic system you will want a full steel frame around the perimeter of the backboard and an H frame securing the backboard to the system. Other configurations are acceptable ( and less expensive ) , but will not have as active a rebound. Once again, thicker will produce better action. Acrylic systems come in 1/8” Ό” 3/8” and ½” thickness. Once again, a price vrs performance decision will have to be made.


The official backboard size is 42” x 72”. Residential systems vary greatly in the dimensions of the backboards and again, this has a big influence on cost. You can go for the full size 42 x 72 or drop down to 42 x 60 which still feels huge because of the 42” dimension. An example of this would be the First Team Powerhouse nitro. If that size is too big or busts the budget, there are options in 60 x 36 , 54 x 36, 48 x 36 and even 54 x 34 ( silverback ). Keep in mind that if you do not have a full court you won’t need a full backboard,. So this can be a great area to make a budget call.


The pole : Do I really need to worry about the pole? Doesn’t it just hold up the backboard? Well yes and no. These systems get heavy and you want a sturdy assembly that is not going to move easily when you play. Plan on dunking? Take that into account as well. Getting a 42” x 70” glass system? You will need a substantial pole. Selecting a 48 x 36 acrylic? You will not need as substantial a setup. There are three aspects to determining the quality of the pole: One piece is better than two piece, the larger the exterior dimensions the better and the thickness of the steel itself. Steel thickness is expressed in gauge and/or thickness. Basketball systems are produced in 16 ( For round poles and considered thin) , 14, 11 and 7 gauge. The lower the number, the thicker the steel. 7 gauge is roughly equivalent to 3/16”. Typical construction of poles are 4x4 5x5 6x6 and 6x8 .


Adjustment system : There are three basic types of height adjustment: Hydraulic where you squeeze a handle to release the system, move it to the desired height and then release where it will now lock.  A crank system where you rotate the handle to move the backboard to the desired position ( some crank systems use a spring assist to compensate for the weight of the backboard ) and a manual system that is released and set using a broom handle. The all work at getting the goal to the desired height with the only obvious compromise being the potential inconvenience with a manual system. This can be another great area to save on cost if your system will not be adjusted often.


Safety setback : The setback is the distance from the pole to the goal. This will vary as the height of the pole is changed but the standard measurement is made when the system is in the regulation 10 foot position. Regulation overhang in high school up to and including NBA is 48”.  Residential systems are available with overhangs of 18”-66”.  The more aggressive the players, the more you will want to take into consideration the size of the overhang.  Bear in mind that with greater overhang comes greater stress on the pole, so your cost will go up as the overhang increases not just because of the additional overhang itself, but also because of strengthening in the associated components.  As aggressive play increases, you should not only consider the overhang, but also pole pads and backboard pads.


Metal finish : All residential systems have a powder coating finish to protect them from the elements. Domestically produced systems such as Gared, First Team and Barbarian have a pre treatment that helps preserve the powder coating and thereby reduce the incidence of rust. The barbarian systems go a step further and use an additional zinc powder coat before the black powder coat that creates a very rust resistant system.

Those are the basics. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call at 1-877-358-5579 . If we  can answer we will and if we do not know for certain, we will find out and get back to you.

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