Basketball is the third biggest sport in the U.S and has a following of more than 250 million people worldwide, so it’s no surprise that playing basketball is a great popular pastime for people of all ages. In the past, lack of high quality basketball portable hoop systems limited basketball enthusiasts to in-ground hoops.
These are restrictive as they are cemented permanently into the ground, they are often subject to sanctions imposed by the local homeowners associations. Since the 1990’s, portable systems have surged in popularity due to their versatility and convenience.
Once flimsy and unstable, recent advancements by manufacturers have meant that the portable systems now the choice when it comes to home hoop systems. Let’s take a look at the best portable basketball hoops and my review. Here are six of the best systems on the market at the moment.
Lifetime 51544 Front Court Portable Basketball System
basketball hoopTake your game to a higher level with the Lifetime 51544 Front Court Portable Basketball System. Are you in the market for a sturdy entry-level setup? This affordable basketball system offers excellent value for money without compromising on quality. Perfect for beginners, the Lifetime 51544 will be the focus of your backyard for years to come.
The 50-inch steel framed polycarbonate backboard is shatter proof. It boasts a Speed Shift feature, allowing easy one handed height adjustment between 8 feet and 10 feet in 6 inch increments. The 18 inch Slam It solid steel rim uses a double spring compression mount and includes a standard all-weather net. The
The 3-inch steel pole is powder coated for extra longevity and the pole pad provided gives added safety. With a 34 gallon high density polyethylene base, this portable basketball hoop system guarantees durability and stability. When filled with water, Lifetime say it will withstand winds of up to 40 miles per hour.
Packing the base with sand provides more rigidity against stronger winds. Assembly of this backboard requires 2 people. It comes with a 5 year warranty.
Most hoop systems are adjustable between 7.5 feet and 10 feet. However, the Lifetime 51544 can only be lowered to 8 feet. This may make it unsuitable for smaller kids.
Turn your driveway into your own personal arena with the Lifetime 71286 XL. This easily built system promises happy years of dunking.
With a virtually unbreakable 52 inch polycarbonate backboard, you will never have to worry about shattering or cracking. The UV protected graphics will never fade or peel from sun exposure. This model showcases Lifetime’s Power Lift device which is a pneumatic mechanism enabling easy one-handed height adjustment. This is a great kids basketball hoop.
The adjustable backboard goes up and down in 6 inch increments between 7.5 feet and 10 feet, making this a versatile system that caters for all ages and skill levels. The 35 gallon sand or water base makes it sturdy and extensive testing ensures that the hoop will remain upright in the harshest inclement weather.
The solid steel Slam-It rim features double compression springs that withstand dunking while protecting the players. Welded steel net and hoop hooks hold the all-weather net in place. Powder coating reinforces the 3.5 inch rust resistant pole and the 5 year warranty covers every part of the Lifetime 71286 XL. This is a great cheap basketball hoop.
Although the assembly of this system is straightforward, it can take a bit of time and requires 2 adults.
Spalding NBA 68564 Basketball Hoop
Create your own shooting haven with the Spalding 68564. This is a mid range hoop that offers something for everyone. This outdoor portable basketball hoop is ideal for those who want to practise their drills and shots daily. Trust one of the oldest and best known sporting brands by investing in a Spalding System!
The 54 inch steel framed acrylic backboard includes authentic style board pads which give it a more realistic feel during play. Spalding’s Screw Jack lift is a crank style apparatus, meaning raising and lowering the backboard is as simple as turning a lever.
The height is adjustable in increments between 7.5 feet and 10 feet, making it a great choice for players of all ages. The lift handle is detachable so that the height cannot be interfered with.
Designed with player safety in mind, the 3.5 inch round pole sits at a 20 degree angle from the base of the unit. This feature allows for more play under the net and reduces collisions with the pole during play. There is also a front cover on the lower section of the pole that gives extra protection.
Anchored by a 40 gallon sand or water base, this sturdy system can withstand aggressive play and variable weather. The Arena Slam breakaway rim bends slightly for safe dunking. This is one of the best portable basketball hoops you can get.
As the unit uses a 3-piece support, expect some mild to moderate shaking when shooting.
Lifetime 71522 Competition XL Portable Basketball System
Aimed at the more serious basketball player, this mid-range system from Lifetime offers some excellent features and is at the lower end of moderately priced hoops.
Features The 54 inch acrylic backboard is stronger than the polycarbonate backboards of the less expensive Lifetime models. This portable hoop also has two extra backboard braces, improving backboard vibrations in comparison to its cheaper counterparts. This is a great hoop for indoor use.
Perfecting the height of your 71522 competition outdoor portable basketball hoop has never been so easy. The height is adjustable between 7.5 feet and 10 feet in one inch increments thanks to the one-handed pneumatic lift mechanism. Moored by a 35 gallon base, this backboard stands up to the weather and allows for minimal shaking during play.
Double compression springs hold the Slam-It solid steel rim in place making it a safe bet to practise your dunks on.
The 90 degree angle of the support pole makes it less stable than other systems with flatter angled poles.
“The Beast” Basketball Hoop by Spalding
Bring the NBA to your backyard! This professional grade system has it all. It’s the first NBA quality tempered glass portable basketball hoop system made for home use. This hoop is as serious about basketball as you are.
The 60 inch backboard showcases a two-piece square angled pole and a massive 50 gallon base maximizes stability and minimizes vibration. This basketball outdoor portable hoop boasts a two-wheeled base with semi-detachable handle for ease of movement.
The height is adjustable between 7.5 feet and 10 feet in infinite increments by a crank handle mechanism. The Beast comes with a Pro Image breakaway rim which can handle the most aggressive dunks without a problem.
A steel frame encased spring return mechanism makes this the most durable rim and net on any portable basketball system. Spalding have really excelled themselves with The Beast. This is for serious players who want top quality, this system is a frontrunner.
Surprisingly, we didn’t find any disadvantages!
Spalding Street Tournament Side Court Portable Basketball Hoop
This system is extremely durable and infinitely flexible. Designed to withstand street tournament play, this hoop is as robust as they come.
The 54 inch acrylic backboard folds down for storage, making this system ultra-convenient. This outdoor basketball hoop has an extension arm which provides 3 feet of offset when the goal is at the highest setting.
Designed with player safety in mind, the cushioned backstop protects players during intense competitive play. The height of this portable basketball hoop model is adjustable between 8 feet and 10 feet, although adjustment is much more difficult compared to systems designed solely for recreational use.
Additional ballast weight is required. Spalding recommends using 500 lbs for this portable street hoop.
Why Choose A Portable Hoop Over An In-Ground Hoop?
There are advantages and disadvantages with both types of systems. In-ground hoops are generally sturdier and players can dunk freely without the risk of causing damage. They also take up very little ground space and have a greater variety of backboards to select from. However, they are permanent and cannot be moved after installation.
An in-ground hoop requires sacrificing a space in your driveway or backyard. They are more expensive compared to portable hoops. Installation of an in-ground hoop requires completely level ground, making it a difficult and tedious job. It’s also vital that the concrete used to set the pole in the ground is exactly level, otherwise the pole will set at an angle.
A major disadvantage of in-ground hoops is that many neighbourhoods and homeowner’s associations have restrictions on them as they are sometimes classified as permanent structures. In some cases you need planning permission before erecting an in-ground hoop.
Portable basketball hoops are mobile and easy to move. They don’t fall under any neighbourhood sanctions. They are more affordable than in-ground systems and are effortlessly assembled. The biggest advantage of these systems is the adjustable height. This makes them accessible to young children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach a standard height in-ground hoop.
The height is adjustable as the child grows, making it a perfect long-term investment. However, portable systems have large bases which take up a lot of ground space. The rims are more likely to suffer damage than the rims of in-ground hoops.
Ultimately, it’s up to the user to consider the pros and cons of each option and decide which type of system suits their needs best. Because of the restrictions imposed by some neighbourhood associations with regard to in-ground hoops, portable basketball systems are the best option for many people.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Portable Basketball Hoop
There is a hoop out there for every budget. It’s worth bearing in mind that even though most affordable entry-level models are perfectly adequate, they are not always as durable as the more expensive hoops. It all comes down to how much use the system will get and how much money the user is willing to spend.
If the plan is to practise intensively for hours every day, purchasing the least expensive option isn’ t a good idea. Once the user has established a budget, then it’s time to take a look at which features are affordable and relevant.
The rim is the hoop that the ball passes through to make a basket. As it comes into play on nearly every shot, it’s important that the rim is durable and secure. Most portable systems feature a compression breakaway rim mechanism that eases the tension on the hoop when dunked.
Putting too much pressure on the rim risks permanent damage, but this breakaway mechanism protects against such destruction. Some higher spec systems feature a professional grade breakaway rim. Springs encased in a metal cage reinforces the strength of these rims.
The backboard is the large rectangular structure attached to the rim. Backboards vary in material, size and colour. Backboards range in size from 44 inches wide to 60 inches wide. Entry-level backboards are often made from polycarbonate.
Polycarbonate is extremely durable and unlikely to break. However, it’s lacking in performance. Players report a poor rebound from polycarbonate backboards. This has a huge impact on the game. Mid-range models are usually acrylic, which performs a lot better than polycarbonate.
Top of the range systems use tempered glass, which is what indoor arena hoops use. Tempered glass gives a far superior rebound than polycarbonate and acrylic. However, it is pricier than the alternatives. Tempered glass is generally only found on the most expensive portable systems.
The base of a portable system is an important feature that impacts on both safety and quality of play. It’s the anchor of the unit, providing stability and sturdiness. The base needs enough anchoring weight to protect the unit from tipping over.
This weight also minimises vibration of the hoop during gameplay. Bases range from 27 gallons to 50+ gallons capacity. Most portable outdoor hoops have 35-40 gallon bases, although some of the higher spec models have larger ones.
Bases use either water or sand as a ballast, filling with sand gives a more stable result. If you’re using water and live in an area prone to freezing in winter, then you should consider mixing a little antifreeze in with the water. This prevents the water from freezing and expanding and tearing the base. Some bases have wheels on them, making the unit easier to move.
Support Pole System
Having a quality support is important as it keeps the portable basketball hoop steady in play. These supports come in 3 main designs. There is a 3-piece, a 2-piece and a 1-piece support. The 3-piece design is common in cheaper models. It is the least stable design and results in a moderate amount of vibration.
The 2-piece supports are generally found on more expensive systems and offer more stability. 1-piece support poles are normally only found on top of the line in-ground basketball systems.
Adjustable Height Mechanism
Height adjustment is an important factor to consider, especially for young players. Generally, systems will have a height range of 7 feet to 10 feet. Some units may only go to 8 feet at their lowest. This would make them unsuitable for younger children.
There are a variety of height adjustment mechanisms and it’s vital that you choose the correct one for you, especially if you want to change the height often. There are 5 types of height adjustment mechanisms. There is the telescoping boom, broomstick adjustment, trigger handle, pneumatic adjustment and crank handle.
This mechanism is usually found in the most inexpensive systems. This works by moving the 2 poles.
This method is also found in cheaper hoops. You adjust the height by lowering or raising a boom then securing it with the ratchet that’s attached to the backboard. This is a difficult and cumbersome method.
This is an easy to use tool. Pull the trigger, adjust the unit to the desired height and then release the trigger to lock the rim in place.
This is the type of mechanism used on many budget to mid-range portable hoops. It is similar to the trigger handle but uses pressurized gas to adjust the height, making it easier to use.
The crank handle mechanism is found in more expensive systems. Although they are trickier to adjust than the one-handed pneumatic systems, they allow for minimal vibration in comparison.
Adjusting the Height for Your Child
If you’re buying a portable basketball system for kids, you need to consider what height you need to set the goal at. Elementary school children will generally need the system lowered to 7 feet for them to play on it.
For kids who play in youth basketball leagues, you can raise it to 8 or 9 feet. From junior high onwards, most kids are able to play on the standard 10 feet hoop.
Quality and Durability
It’s really worth doing some solid research before investing in a portable basketball system. Once you have set your budget and decided which features you want, it is then time to think about quality and durability. You need a hoop that fits your requirements, with the highest spec that your budget allows for. Generally, higher quality hoops come with a higher price tag.
Many mid-range products will compromise by offering a high quality backboard with lower height adjustment or vice-versa. It’s really worth deciding which features are important to you.
Your durability requirements depend on who is going to use the hoop, and how often. Obviously, if you’re buying a hoop for a group of children, you need a tougher system than if you were buying for a single adult to practise on. If you buy cheap then you may find yourself regretting it down the line.
Care and Maintenance
Once you have purchased your portable basketball hoop system and you have done some advanced vertical basketball training, you want to make sure that you get the most out of it. There are a few things you can do to maximise your hoops lifespan. In stormy weather, it is best to move your system to a sheltered place. If this is not possible, then tipping it over and lying it on the ground will minimise the risk of damage by wind.
It is also worth considering moving the system indoors in cold wet weather to prevent rust. The hoop nets need replacing every 5 years on average. Routinely check the base of the system to make sure that there is enough water or sand to weigh it down.
If the ballast is inadequate, there is a risk of the unit tipping over and damaging the rim or backboard. Bolts and nuts need checking for tightness once a year. Proper care and maintenance will prolong the life of your portable basketball system.