A generation ago, a plain plywood rectangle with a netless orange rim was a common sight on garage roofs everywhere. But today more sophisticated “basketball systems” have become the new standard. Typically located away from the garage (and the garage windows and the cars inside), self-contained basketball systems take advantage of today’s larger driveways. In-ground or portable, they are usually adjustable in height to accommodate players of all ages.
In-ground basketball systems include a pole, backboard and rim. Prices start at about $100, but most products fall in the $250 to $700 price range. Top-of-the- line models cost $1,000 or more. The biggest variables among models are the post strength and the backboard material, size and thickness. Anchoring methods also vary somewhat.
The cheapest in-ground systems come with a 3-1/2-in.-dia. round pole. But you don’t need to spend much more to get a 4-in. square pole (which is much more rigid than a round pole). Backboards range from 48 to 72 in. wide (regulation size). For most home-owners, a 56- or 60-in.-wide model is a good choice. Clear backboards are made of glass in institutional models, but most residential systems come with an acrylic or polycarbonate backboard. They don’t get quite the rebound effect of glass, but they’re not likely to shatter, either. Look for a backboard that’s 3/8 or 1/2 in. thick. Thinner products have a flimsy feel that many cagers object to. Be sure to carefully consider the location before installing an in-ground basketball system. In particular, evaluate what lies behind the rim, especially if a street or a neighboring yard is nearby.
Step 1: Dig a hole for the pole footing, following the manufacturer’s depth suggestion. Add a few inches of gravel for drainage.
Step 2: Place bricks or concrete blocks in the hole to support the pole and then fill the hole with concrete. Do not attach the backboard yet.
Step 3: Brace the pole (we used sawhorses, 2x4s and bungee cords) and check it with a level. Check and adjust the pole periodically as the concrete sets up.
Step 4: After the concrete cures (at least three days), assemble and attach the rim and backboard. You’ll need at least two helpers for this job.
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