Portable Basketball Hoop Guide

Before spending money on a portable basketball hoop, this guide is a must-read. Spalding, Lifetime, Goalrilla, and Huffy basketball goals are popular products that offer a wide range of price and performance options.

You've got several different options when it comes to basket ball hoops, and the one you'll choose really depends on your answer to the following questions:

  • Who will use it?
  • What is the skill level of the players?
  • How old are the players?
  • What level of competition do you want to have?
  • Will its location be temporary or long-term?
  • What's the weather like in your area?
  • How much space do you have?
  • How much do you want to spend?

Portable Basketball Goals for Sale

portable basketball hoop


Spalding

Lifetime

Huffy

Used


Check out our Basketball Equipment page for other types of portable basket ball hoops including systems for pools, trampolines, and indoors.

Goalrilla is a popular brand for in ground basketball systems.

One your first considerations is location. What kind of space do you have available for a goal?

Watch the short video below by Lifetime products for some helpful information about choosing a goal based on where it will be located.


We'll talk about portable basketball hoops here, but you can click on the following links for information about your other options:

In Ground Basketball System

Wall-Mount Basketball System

Combination Backboard-Rim

Portable Basketball Hoops

Portable basketball systems are very popular for driveway and backyard basketball courts. According to Huffy, nearly 80% of basketball goals purchased today are portable systems. Here are some factors to take into consideration as you decide which type of goal is right for you.

Cost

When it comes to a portable basketball hoop, you can basically spend as little or as much as you want to spend. It all depends on the age and skill of your players, how much use you think the goal will get, and the quality and performance you're looking for.

You can find goals ranging anywhere from $100 to $5,000 on up.

There are basically 3 categories of portable basketball hoops: home goals, premium home goals, and commercial goals.

Home goals cost between $100-$500 and can be found in most sporting goods stores. They're okay for beginners and little kids, but most serious players would prefer a more stable, durable type of goal. The backboards on these goals are thin and don't allow for true bounce. They are definitely not designed for dunking.

Several years ago, I bought 3 portable basketball goals in this price range for a little kid's basketball camp I was conducting at our church. We had a tight budget, and I wasn't sure how popular the camp would be with our youngsters, so I didn't want to invest a whole lot in them. I spent about $200 apiece for them and they have not only survived a couple years of basketball camps, but here it is about 3 years later and they are still being used at least once a week by the youth group at our church. They are certainly not professional quality, but they have suited our needs just fine.

The premium home goals are the next step up in quality and price, and the commercial portable basketball hoops are those used for high-level competition like you'd find on the championship courts at outdoor Hoop-It-Up tournaments and in college and professional basketball arenas.

Stability

The stability of your basketball system will greatly affect its performance. If it's not very stable, it will feel flimsy, tip over easily, and vibrate every time the ball hits it. The type of backboard you select also affects this. The lower quality portable basket ball hoops are not as stable and don't perform as well overall as the higher quality ones. And they are not as sturdy as in-ground systems or wall-mounted hoops.

Portable goals get their stability by filling their base with sand or water. If you live in a really cold climate, it's possible you would need to add anti-freeze to the water to avoid the base from getting damaged as the water expands and contracts.

Sand bags, cinder blocks, or weights can also be placed on top of the base to increase stability. When properly filled a portable basketball hoop should provide a minimum 200 pounds of pullover resistance. The cheaper models provide as little as 70 pounds and can easily be tipped over with rough play and strong winds. I recommend checking out the goal's stability rating before buying it.

Adjustable Height

An adjustable height goal is a must for kids. Young players need a lower goal to experience more success. Older kids also have a lot of fun goofing off with a lower rim. As the players grow, the basket can grow with them. Many goals can adjust from 6'6" up to 10'.

I suggest taking a careful look at the type of mechanism the goal uses for raising and lowering. That was by far the most difficult part of assembling my portable basketball goals. I find them to be a little difficult to adjust and not true to the height they claim to be, but I don't know if that was my fault in assembly or a fault with the product itself. 

Types of Backboards

One of the greatest determinants of the quality and cost of a portable basketball hoop is the type of material the backboard is made out of. 

Check out the video below to see how the type of backboard affects the goal's performance.


Acrylic and polycarbonate are the most commonly used materials, but backboards can also be made of tempered glass, fiberglass, graphite, molded plastic, wood, steel, or aluminum. Here's a quick look at each type of backboard:

  • Composite – the lowest quality and lowest level of performance. Inexpensive and perfect for beginners.
  • Polycarbonate – shatterproof and much more durable than composite.
  • Acryclic – not as durable as polycarbonate or as rigid as fiberglass or graphite, but it provides a better rebound and it has the look and styling of a professional backboard.
  • Tempered Glass – premium backboard providing the highest quality and performance. The type of backboard used on college and pro basketball courts.
  • Steel and aluminum – very strong and resistant to vandalism, but they don’t provide very true rebounding action.

Backboard Size & Shape

Backboards are either fan-shaped or rectangular, and they range in size from a youth-size 32" wide to a regulation-size NBA backboard 72" wide x 42" tall. Most portable basketball hoops measure 42"-44" wide x 36" tall.

I definitely recommend wider backboards for higher-level play because they provide more opportunities for bank shots and rebounds. Smaller backboards will work for recreational use or if space is limited.

Basketball Rims

Rims are made of steel and are 18" in diameter. They come in 3 different styles:

  • Standard – bolts directly to the backboard.
  • Spring-loaded – provides some "give" when a player dunks the ball or hangs from the rim.
  • Break-away – heavy-duty rim that actually "breaks away" from the backboard during a slam dunk to keep the backboard from cracking.

Basketball Nets

Basketball nets are necessary for a couple of reasons. First, they slow the ball down as it comes through the hoop so that it drops straight down to the ground. If you've ever tried to shoot without a net, you know you'll be chasing the ball everywhere. That's not much fun! Also, it's really hard to tell if the ball actually goes through the basket without a net attached.

There are different types of nets:

  • Nylon – the most popular kind of net used in regulation competition.
  • Chain – used mainly on playgrounds and outdoor courts because they are sturdy and are harder to vandalize.
  • Coated cable – used mainly on playgrounds and outdoor courts for the same reason as chain nets.

Relatively Easy to Move

A portable basketball hoop is great for driveways, out in the street or anywhere else where you will need to be able to move it from time to time. They have wheels on the base, so they can be tipped and rolled to a desired location.

I will say from personal experience that even though they are portable, the larger basketball systems require a couple of people to move them. Once their base gets filled with water or sand, the unit becomes very heavy and doesn't move without quite a bit of effort.

Also, I found it difficult while standing on the ground to be able to reach up high enough to get enough leverage on the pole to be able to tip it. You definitely want to lower the goal as much as possible to make it easier to handle. 

Easy to Assemble

The goals I purchased for our basketball camp were Spalding portable basketball goals with acrylic backboards. I was able to put all 3 of them together in one (long!) afternoon. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but I found the directions to be pretty user-friendly, and the whole process could be completed with the help of a friend. Within a few hours, you can be up and ready to play!

Leveling

Portable basketball hoops often need to be leveled. Whether it's from being assembled a little off balance, getting rattled around from the balls banging off of them, or locating them on an uneven playing surface, they will have to be leveled from time to time.

The driveway basketball court I played on for years sloped seriously downhill. In a case like this, you need to use a level to get the rim level with the horizon.

Start by raising the goal to its highest point so it's at its most unstable position. Determine which way the system is leaning and add shims underneath the side of the base that is too low. For example, if it's tilting forward, place shims under the front of the base.

For safety reasons, make sure the shims don't stick out from under the base. Using 2-3 solid shims underneath should be enough to stabilize and level it. You can also place additional weight on the side of the base opposite the direction of the tilt. Sandbags, cinder blocks, or free weights work great for this.


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