The Top 6 Best In-Ground Basketball Hoops

A good basketball hoop can bring years of joy. It's a great place for the kids of the neighborhood to meet up, practice their skills and compete in shooting games. But, that doesn't mean adults can't have fun with it, too. In a time where everybody is sitting in front of their computer or looking at their smart phone all day, being able to relax and shoot hoops in your own driveway or backyard is just absolutely priceless.

Nowadays, most homeowners opt for the versatility of portable basketball hoops, but these hoops are often a bit shaky and don't deliver a very satisfying playing experience. If you have a place where you can install a permanent basketball hoop, go for it - you will have a lot more fun.

This article aims to help you find the best in-ground basketball hoop for your driveway or backyard. I am going to explain what you need to look for and review some of the most popular basketball hoops on the market:

The best in-ground basketball hoops for every budget:

Basketball Hoop

Backboard Size

Backboard Material

Support Pole

Price

Lifetime 90020

48 inches

Polycarbonate

3.5" round

Lifetime 71525

54 inches

Polycarbonate

3.5" round

Spalding 88461G

60 inches

1/4" Tempered Glass

4" x 4"

Goalrilla GLR GS 54

54 inches

3/8" Tempered Glass

5" x 5"

Pro Dunk Hercules

72 inches

1/2" Tempered Glass

6" x 6"

Pro Dunk Platinum

72 inches

1/2" Tempered Glass

8" x 6"

Permanent basketball hoops are not cheap, and, once they are installed, they often stay for decades, so it makes sense to plan the installation carefully.

Before buying an in-ground basketball hoop:

Legal restrictions:

If you plan to install the basketball hoop in your driveway or backyard, make sure you are legally allowed to do so. Unfortunately, many HOA or municipalities have strict rules against "unsightly nuisances". You really don't want to install a basketball hoop just to find out you have to remove it again a few days later. If permanent basketball hoops are not allowed, check out my article about portable basketball hoops.

Check for underground utility lines:

Permanent basketball hoops require you to dig a pretty deep hole (usually 48 inches) for the goal post. Make sure there are no underground utility lines where you want to put the hoop. There is a free service that can tell you where you can dig safely. Find out more at www.call811.com.

Dimension of the court

Measure your driveway, backyard or any other area where you want to install the hoop. A regulation NBA basketball half-court is 50' x 47' ( 50' x 42' for high school), but of course, your court doesn't have to be that big. Let's assume a typical overhang of 2ft (distance from goal post to backboard) plus another 2 ft of clearance behind the hoop for the height adjustment mechanics. The distance of the high school 3-point line is 19'9", so if you want to have at least 3' space behind the three-point line, you will need a court about 27 feet long.

If you don't have that much space, however, and the dimensions of your court are going to be significantly smaller, it might make sense to stick with a smaller hoop with less overhang and a smaller backboard. This way, your court doesn't shrink even more and the dimensions don't look completely out of whack.

What to look for when buying an in-ground basketball:

If you have decided to buy an in-ground basketball there is a wide array of options. The main distinguishing characteristics are the thickness of the goal post, the size, material, and overhang of the backboard as well as the quality of the rim. Let's take a closer look.

Support Pole

Installation of the Support Pole:

The support pole is the foundation of every basketball hoop and, therefore, responsible for its stability. Cheaper hoops often come with a multi-piece support pole where the bottom pole is directly inserted into a 24" deep hole filled with fresh concrete. This installation can be a bit tricky because you need to make sure the pole is perfectly vertical. You won't be able to adjust the support pole later.

More expensive hoops come with an anchor kit. The construction of the anchor kits is nearly identical among all in-ground basketball hoops requiring a digging depth of 48". This means you will need anywhere between 8-25 bags (80lbs) of concrete. One big advantage of this construction is you can later level the backboard by adjusting the nuts of the J-Bolts beneath the anchor plate.

example anchor kit

You can check out an example of anchor plate installation on this instructional video.

Thickness of Support Pole:

You want the pole as sturdy and stable as possible so that the wobbling after shots (or dunks) is kept to a minimum. Cheaper hoops often come with relatively flimsy support poles (3.5" round diameter) lacking the necessary stability for a professional playing experience. The top of the class hoop in this article features a massive 6"x8" support pole, which eliminates almost any wobbling. Even Shaquille O'Neal himself could dunk on this hoop.

Height Adjustment:

Almost all basketball hoops are height-adjustable these days. Most hoops can lower the rim to 7.5 feet. The most expensive hoop in this test, the Pro Dunk Platinum, can even lower it all the way to 5.5 feet. This is great for kids not yet strong enough to shoot on a regular 10ft goal and it's also great fun to feel like Blake Griffin destroying a 9ft rim. 🙂

However, the height adjustment mechanic is also a source of instability. If you don't plan to adjust the height, it might make sense to pass on this feature and go for a fixed height hoop like the Pro Dunk Hercules​.

Backboard

Size of the Backboard:

The regulation backboard used in the NBA and NCAA is 72 inches wide and 42 inches high. But, these huge backboards weigh a ton and are therefore reserved for the most expensive and massive basketball hoops. Cheaper basketball hoops usually start with backboards that are 48 inches wide, but the most common 54 or 60 inches. These backboards allow you more than enough space for bank shots and layups - 72 inches is really only necessary for the most advanced basketball purists.

Material of Backboard:

Cheaper backboards are often made from Polycarbonate because this material is relatively light and very durable. Unfortunately, as polycarbonate is so light and soft, the rebound response of polycarbonate backboards just doesn't feel right. This is especially true if you are used to high-quality indoor hoops. Another weakness of Polycarbonate is it tends to discolor and yellow after exposure to the sun for a while.

Professional backboards, on the other hand, are made of tempered glass. This material is very hard, scratch-resistant, and offers the best rebound response. You will also not see any discoloration, even after years.

The downside of tempered glass is its weight. Therefore, you often see relatively thin layers of glass in moderately priced hoops (1/4"). The top-notch hoops feature backboards up to twice as thick (1/2"). A 72-inch wide backboard like that will easily weigh over 100lbs and will be completely unfazed by the impact of a basketball, offering a playing experience like no other. If you want to see a great example of a basketball hoop like that, check out the Pro Dunk Platinum.

Overhang of the backboard:

On an official NBA basketball court, the distance between the baseline and the backboard is defined to be 4 feet. This allows players to attack the rim without crashing into the stands. It also enables them to dribble underneath the basket. If you want to do the same, you need a hoop featuring a big overhang (distance between backboard and goal post).

Cheaper hoops like the Lifetime 90020 offer a relatively small overhang of only 22". However, if you only have a small driveway, this can actually be an advantage as it saves a lot of space. More expensive (and heavier) hoops like the Pro-Dunk-Platinum offer up to 4 feet of overhang and allow for much more under-the-basket action.

Rim

Almost all in-ground basketball hoops come with breakaway rims. These rims dampen the impact of shots and make rebounds much shorter. They are also much more comfortable if you want to hang on the rim after a powerful dunk.

If you are buying a hoop, make sure the spring of the breakaway mechanism is covered to ensure longer durability.

covered breakaway rim


Popular in-ground basketball hoops:

All right, let's take a look at the features of some of the most popular in-ground basketball hoops:

Basketball Hoop

Features

Quality

  • Price: $196.98
    Was: $272.00

Lifetime 90020

  • great for kids <13 years old
  • very affordable beginner hoop
  • Price: $326.73
    Was: $399.99

Lifetime 71525

  • quickly change height of the rim
  • great hoop in the middle price range
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Spalding 88461G

  • Big 54" backboard
  • great bang for the buck
  • Price: $999.99
    Was: $1,379.99

Goalrilla GLR GS 54

  • incredible build quality
  • unique look
  • Price: $1,639.01

Pro Dunk Hercules

  • huge 60" tempered glass backboard
  • best overall portable basketball hoop 
  • Price: $1,848.00

Pro Dunk Platinum

  • huge 60" tempered glass backboard
  • best overall portable basketball hoop 

In the following paragraphs we will take a closer look and talk about the pros and cons of each basket:

1. Lifetime 90020

Technical Specifications:

Backboard Size:

48"

Backboard Material:

Polycarbonate

Height Adjustment:

7.5' - 10'

Overhang:

22"

Support Pole:

3.5" round

Price:

Lifetime is a company known for producing very affordable basketball hoops of good quality. The 90020 is on the lower end of their price spectrum and a great option if you are looking for a first basketball hoop for you kids. Compared to their cheapest models (see my article about portable basketball hoops), the overhang of 22" allows a decent amount of under-the-basket play and reduces the danger of crashing into the goal post.

The backboard of the Lifetime 90200 makes bank shots a bit tricky because, at 48 inches wide, it is much smaller than a professional 72" backboard. But, this also comes with a big advantage. The small size, combined with the very light material (Polycarbonate), makes the required digging depth (24") very manageable and a massive support pole unnecessary.

Compared to heavier and more expensive hoops, the stability and sturdiness of this hoop can be a bit disappointing. The hoop will rattle for a few seconds after every shot, especially after long three-pointers. However, at this affordable price, you really can't expect to get a substantial, rattle-free hoop.

Overall, the Lifetime 90200 is a great option for kids or guys who want to shoot a few baskets in their driveway. If you are looking for a more professional playing experience, you will want to look into sturdier, more stable basketball hoops.


2. Lifetime 71525

Technical Specifications:

Backboard Size:

54"

Backboard Material:

Polycarbonate

Height Adjustment:

7.5' - 10'

Overhang:

22"

Support Pole:

3.5" round

Price:

The Lifetime 71525 improves on one of the biggest weaknesses of the 90020 and comes with a bigger 48" backboard. This is a welcome change and allows players to make bank shots and layups more easily. Apart from the size of the backboard, the tech specs are pretty similar. The backboard is also made from the same Polycarbonate, the overhang of 22" is identical and the support pole is equally thick (3.5").

What is different, however, is the height adjustment mechanism. While the 90020 Action Grip adjustment allows you to adjust the height in 6" increments, the 71525 allows you to adjust the height between 7.5' to 10' in infinite increments. The power lift pole is easy to use and allows kids to adjust the hoop on their own, which is great news if you have kids of different ages. Unfortunately, the adjustment mechanism is also a source of instability, so don't expect this hoop to be as stable as fixed-height baskets you know from the gym.

Overall, the Lifetime 71525 is a great option if you are looking for a beginner, in-ground hoop with a bigger backboard.


3. Spalding 88461G

Technical Specifications:

Backboard Size:

60"

Backboard Material:

1/4" Tempered Glass

Height Adjustment:

7.5' - 10'

Overhang:

24"

Support Pole:

4" x 4"

Price:

This Spalding basketball hoop is one of the cheapest option with a big, 60" backboard made of tempered glass. And, a backboard like this makes all the difference! The size is very close to professional dimensions and the added weight and rigidity of the tempered glass make the rebound response much more satisfying. If you like to finish your layups high off the glass, this hoop is for you.

The adjustment mechanism is very stable, but a bit difficult to use. Kids probably can't adjust the height of this basket on their own. Combine the sturdy 4"x4" support pole with the heavy weight and the stable adjustment mechanism and you have a basketball hoop that keeps rattling and shaking to acceptable levels.

The overhang of 24" is still far away from allowing the official 4ft distance between backboard and baseline, but this also means you don't necessarily need a huge backyard for this hoop. In fact, the required space is comparable to the two Lifetime baskets presented before.

If you are looking for a moderately-priced basketball hoop with a big backboard and good quality, the Spalding 88461G is a great option.


4. Goalrilla GLR GS 54

Technical Specifications:

Backboard Size:

54"

Backboard Material:

3/8" Tempered Glass

Height Adjustment:

7.5' - 10'

Overhang:

30"

Support Pole:

5" x 5"

Price:

Goalrilla is a company known for the excellent quality of their basketball hoops. The GS 54 is their entry model and comes with a heavy 54" backboard made of thick 3/8" tempered glass.

Cheaper basketball hoops often come with support poles made from two or more pieces, which can harm the stability of these hoops. The support pole of the Goalrilla GS54 is made from a single, 5"x5" piece of solid steel connected to the 48" deep concrete base via an anchor kit. And, that's great news, because it ensures there is almost no shaking or wobbling. Another advantage of the anchor kit is you can easily uninstall this hoop if you ever plan to move. You don't need to do a lot of digging; just buy a new anchor kit and install it on your new court.

If you only have a relatively small or medium driveway or backyard but want to buy a high-quality basketball hoop that will last you for years, then the Goalrilla GS54 is the way to go. If you are looking for a basketball hoop with bigger backboards, Goalrilla also produces versions of this hoop with 60" or 72" backboards.


5. Pro Dunk Hercules

Technical Specifications:

Backboard Size:

72"

Backboard Material:

1/2" Tempered Glass

Height Adjustment:

Fixed

Overhang:

48"

Support Pole:

6" x 6"

Price:

Now we are really entering the realm of high-performance basketball hoops. This Pro Dunk Hercules hoop is an absolute monster that weighs more than 300 lbs! A large portion of this weight comes from the massive 72" x 48" backboard made from thick 1/2" tempered glass, the exact same dimensions used in the NBA!

This basketball hoop is the only hoop in this article fixed at 10' height with no adjustment mechanism. Of course, this is not ideal if you have small kids who want to hold their own dunking contest. But, if you don't intend to adjust heights anyway, you can save a few hundred dollars while eliminating a source of instability. In fact, Pro Dunk is so sure of the sturdiness of this hoop, they give a limited, lifetime warranty that includes dunking and hanging on the rim.

Another distinguishing attribute of this hoop is the 4ft overhang. You really don't need to be afraid of crashing into the goal post with this hoop. However, if you really want to go nuts, Pro Dunk also builds the Hercules Diamond with a 5 ft overhang that allows you to go for the official 4ft distance between backboard and baseline.

Overall, the Pro Dunk Hercules is a great way to go if you have a big backyard and you are looking for a professional style basketball hoop that will last for years (or decades)!


6. Pro Dunk Platinum

Technical Specifications:

Backboard Size:

72"

Backboard Material:

1/2" Tempered Glass

Height Adjustment:

5.5' - 10'

Overhang:

48"

Support Pole:

8" x 6"

Price:

The Pro Dunk Platinum is built very similarly to the Pro Dunk Hercules, but comes with a height adjustment mechanism. While most hoops are adjustable between 7.5' to 10', this hoop can be lowered all the way to 5.5 feet. If you want to make sure everybody can dunk on your basket, that's the way to go. 🙂

Even though this basket comes with a big 4ft overhang and an extensive height adjustment, there is no wobbling or shaking. If you want to get a look at it yourself check out this video:

So if you are looking for a massive, height-adjustable hoop with a lifetime guarantee then go for the Pro Dunk Platinum!

Final Thoughts

If you want to buy your kids their first basketball hoop then the Lifetime 90020 is a very affordable option that will last for a few years.

However, if you want to upgrade to a more professional basketball hoop that is still affordable then I would go with the Spalding ​88461G.

If you have a huge backyard and money is not an object​ then go for the Pro Dunk Platinum, it is the only basketball hoop you will need to buy in your life!

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