My love for the game of basketball started very early when my parents installed a driveway basketball hoop for my brother and me. It wasn’t anything special - a cheap backboard mounted to the wall of the garage probably only 8 feet high. But I loved it! I spent every day of the summer shooting hoops with my friends and neighbors; I even made my first dunk on that hoop. One thing is clear: this was definitely one of the best investments my parents ever made.
These days, a lot of neighborhoods don't allow permanent basketball hoops anymore. Fortunately, if you don't want to miss out on the fun of shooting hoops in your driveway there is an easy solution: portable basketball goals.
In this article, I want to recommend different hoops for every budget and to help you find the best fit for your situation.
Click on any of the links to read an in-depth description or continue with this article and find out which hoop will fit best in your driveway or backyard.
There are a lot of things you want to consider when buying a portable basketball hoop; in the following paragraphs I want to talk about the most important ones.
Whether you want to practice the famous Tim Duncan bank shot or work on your lay-ups, the backboard for your hoop better be of good quality! This comes down to three main factors: size, material and the overhang of the backboard.
The regulation basketball backboard used in the NBA and NCAA is 72 inches wide and 42 inches high, but you will rarely see a backboard of these dimensions in a driveway. If money's no object and you are building a professional basketball court in your backyard, then go for a 72" backboard. Otherwise, there are more sensible options on the market.
Backboards usually start at 44 inches wide, which is very small, makes layups hard and bank shots almost impossible. Backboards offering better playability start at 54" inches. These give a much more professional feel and allow for easy layups and angled floaters. More expensive, high-quality hoops often come with 60" backboards while regulation 72" backboards are almost entirely reserved for the most luxurious and professional basketball goals on the market.
Backboards are usually made of either one of these three materials:
Polyethylene (or Polycarbonate) is a fancy name for plastic and is most often used for the cheapest basketball hoops. It has one big advantage: it is almost indestructible and, therefore, a great option if you are looking for a basic hoop that will last you for years. If you want a high-quality hoop, however, plastic has two problems. The rebound effect is pretty bad, which means the ball basically stops dead once it hits the backboard. Also, the look of plastic boards just screams "kids hoops".
Acrylic backboards are a clear step up from cheap polyethylene backboards. Transparency offers a much more professional look. Unfortunately, acrylic is a very soft material and will pick up scratches over time, which will slowly spoil the great look.
Acrylic is very popular with hoops in the moderate price range because it weighs considerably less than tempered glass. This means the support structure doesn't have to be as sturdy in order to support the weight of the backboard. Unfortunately, lighter basketball hoops are more susceptible to wind and the rebound response of the backboard is only average.
Tempered glass is the material used in professional basketball hoops in the NBA, NCAA and all over the world. It is by far the heaviest material, requiring a heavy base and support pole. But, if you invest in a glass backboard, you are rewarded with the best playing experience by far. Tempered glass doesn't scratch easily and keeps its clean look forever. Also, the rebound response is much better than in any other material.
The offset of the backboard describes the distance between the backboard and the support pole. If the offset is too small, it is easy to crash into the basketball post after a layup or dunk attempt. Professional basketball goals feature an overhang of at least 4 feet, but portable ones usually have far less. This is no problem if you just practice your shooting, but if you want to play real games, make sure that the overhang is deep enough, otherwise padding the goal post is a good idea.
The rim diameter of 18 inches is the same for every hoop on the market. What is different, however, is the way the rim is attached to the backboard:
The standard rim is simply screwed into the lower backboard. This gives the rim a lot of stability, but it also results in a lot of long rebounds and shots that bounce in and out. You also don't want to dunk on a rim like that, where all the force is transmitted (unchecked) onto the backboard. The result is either injured hands or a damaged backboard.
Breakaway basketball rims with compression springs dampen the bounce of your shots, resulting in the "soft touch" every shooter loves. If you plan to dunk on your basketball hoop, a breakaway rim is mandatory. These rims come in two different variations: cheaper versions with exposed compression springs, or more expensive and more durable rims with covered springs offering better rust protection.
A stable and robust support pole is very important for the stability of a basketball hoop. Most portable basketball goals these days have the ability to adjust the height - great for kids who want to learn the game (or adults who want to pretend they can dunk), but it makes the construction of stable support poles difficult. Cheap and moderately-priced hoops often use three-piece pole constructions. If you want something less shaky, look for two-piece support poles - usually reserved for more expensive basketball hoops.
The height adjustment systems also differ widely in quality and ease of use. Cheap basketball goals often use a telescope pole fixed by a knob in 6-inch increments. More expensive hoops like the Spalding Beast offer a screw jack adjustment system, which is much easier to use and allows you to choose any height between 7.5' and 10'.
The base is one of the most important parts of any portable basketball hoop. It not only provides the hoop with the necessary stability, but it also a crucial part of its portability.
The base usually includes a container that can be filled with water or sand. The bigger the capacity of the base, the more stability provided.
Beginner hoops often come with a capacity around 27 gallons. The plastic backboards of these basketball goals are rather light, therefore the base doesn't need to be very heavy. More advanced hoops (with bigger backboards made from acrylic) usually come with heavier bases with a volume of around 35 gallons. The base of the most expensive (and much heavier) hoops can easily exceed 50 gallon, which has the negative side effect that it hurts the portability to some degree.
base of the Spalding "The Beast"
If you need to move the hoop after every basketball session and portability is very important to you, you should make sure that the base has wheels. Fortunately, this is the case for almost all portable basketball hoop these days.
Alright, let's take a closer look at some of the most popular portable basketball hoops:
7.5 - 10 feet
If you are looking to buy the first basketball hoop for your kids, and you don't want to spend a fortune, the Lifetime Pro Court is a great choice. Very light and portable, the height is adjustable from 7.5 feet to 10 feet and the material is durable enough to withstand rain and wind for years.
The assembly of the Lifetime Pro Court is relatively easy and shouldn't take you longer than two hours. While you can put it together on your own, a second adult makes the process much easier. Once the hoop is assembled, fill the base with water and you are ready to go!
If you want to lower the hoop for your kids, you can adjust the height using the telescope mechanism of the support pole. Unfortunately, this takes two people and is a bit complicated. If you need to change heights often and quickly, there are much easier adjustment systems available in more expensive basketball hoops.
The backboard of the Lifetime Pro Court is made of Polyethylene and only 44 inches wide. That's perfectly fine for kids, but if you want to practice bank shots, you should probably look into options with bigger backboards.
Another reason this hoop doesn't work for more serious play is the fact the backboard is screwed directly onto the support pole. So if you want to work on your best Michael Jordan imitation and dunk from the free throw line, you will inevitably crash into the post. The Lifetime Pro Court is best used for shooting around and less for real basketball games.
Overall, this is a great basketball hoop for goofing around or for kids under the age of 13. For older (or very dedicated) kids, you may want to look into something closer to a professional basketball hoop.
8 - 10 feet
The Lifetime Front Court is a clear step up towards more professional basketball hoops. The 50-inch, see-through backboard looks great and allows for more creative layups; the rim has a breakaway mechanism that softens the bounce and is great for dunking. The Lifetime Front Court is a little heavier than its little brother the Pro Court, but it is still very portable and can be moved easily by one adult.
If you have kids of different ages and you are looking for a basket where you can adjust the height quickly, this hoop is a great choice. The one-hand, speed shift adjustment allows you to change the height in 6-inch increments within seconds. In fact, it's so easy, your kids can do it on their own!
Speed shift height adjustment
What's also great about the Lifetime Front Court hoop is the backboard is not directly screwed onto the support pole, instead, the backboard hangs 18 inches in front of the goal post. This overhang is a real game-changer because it gives you extra space to land after a layup and allows for real basketball games.
The only downside to this hoop is probably the assembly process. A lot of customers complain about the poor quality of the instructions and the number of tools needed. So, if you are not a talented handyman. you better reserve enough time!
Overall, the Lifetime Front Court is a great hoop in the moderate price range that is especially awesome if you need to adjust the rim height often and quickly.
7.5 - 10 feet
Moving farther up in the world of portable basketball hoops, the Spalding Pro Slam features a 54-inch, acrylic backboard, a professional covered breakaway rim, and a massive 34-gallon base.
Spalding is the largest basketball equipment supplier in the world and the official sponsor of the NBA. This allows Spalding to print the NBA logo on the backboard - a nice touch for every basketball fan who wants to replay the biggest shots of his NBA heroes in his own driveway.
This Spalding hoop has a forward-bent support pole that extends the backboard in front of the base, which is great for under the hoop play and layups. The 54-inch, see-through backboard should be big enough for almost any recreational basketball player and the covered breakaway rims make dunking fun.
The adjustment system couldn't be easier to use and allows you to change the height of the hoop quickly in 6-inch increments from 7.5 to 10 feet. Another nice touch is the tilted cover of the base, which not only protects you from stepping on it and spraining your ankle, but also automatically returns the ball when you are swishing your free throws!
Exacta height adjustment
Like for most portable basketball hoops, the assembly of the Spalding Pro Slams seems to be quite an adventure and can take you (and a buddy) up to 5 hours. Luckily you only need to assemble it once and will have fun for years.
The Spalding Pro Slam is another great option in the moderate price segment. A large 54-inch backboard, a sturdy base and adjustable height make this hoop perfect, not only for little kids but also their basketball-obsessed fathers!
7.5 - 10 feet
The Silverback NXT has almost the same specs as the Spalding Pro Slam. It features a 35-gallon base, adjustable height, and a covered, breakaway rim. The most obvious distinguishing factor is the infinity edge backboard, which is not covered by a frame like every other backboard and offers a very modern, clean look.
This basketball hoop is produced by the same company that makes the Goalrilla in-ground baskets which is very well known for their incredible quality. The excellence of this hoop is obvious the second you open the Silverback NXT. Every part is numbered and the instruction is very detailed. You can easily assemble this hoop in 2 hours, and if you need help there is even a youtube assembly video!
The Silverback is a great example of thoughtful engineering - the frame is very stable, the hoop doesn't rattle at every shot and the 26-inch overhang gives you a lot of space under the backboard. The adjustment system is easy to use and allows you to change the height from 7.5 feet to 10 feet in 6-inch increments. If you want to get an idea about the quality of the Silverback NXT, check out this video:
The Silverback is not cheap, but it is a great choice if you want to invest in a really high-quality basketball hoop engineered to last. If you want to save a little bit, there is also a smaller version with a 50-inch frame.
7.5 - 10 feet
This portable basketball hoop by Spalding was named "The Beast" for a reason. With a huge 60-inch backboard and a massive 55-gallon base, it comes closer to a professional basketball hoop than any other portable hoop on the market.
Different from the other basketball hoops recommended in this article, "The Beast" has a backboard made from high-quality tempered glass. This very heavy material is usually reserved for indoor or in-ground baskets and has a rebound efficiency unlike any other. If you plan to throw alley-oop passes off the backboard, this is definitely the hoop for you.
Other advantages - cheaper and lighter baskets tend to vibrate/rattle after longer shots, this baskets stays quiet and unfazed. Also, even if you are a big and athletic player, you can still hang on the rim without worrying about getting buried underneath the basket.
Unfortunately, all this weight has one negative side-effect. It is not exactly easy to move this basket. You can certainly do it with two adults, but if you plan to stow it in the garage after every basketball game, this is probably not the perfect hoop for you. If you are looking for a high quality basketball hoop that you can move easily, I would go for the Silverback NXT. On the other hand, if portability is no issue, I would skip the "Beast" and go for an in-ground basketball hoop that will provide even more stability and longevity.
Portable basketball hoops come in a very wide price range! If you are looking for the first basketball hoop for your little kids, and you are not sure if they are going to stick with it, then the Lifetime Pro Court is a great beginner hoop.
The Silverback NXT is more expensive but extremely well engineered and my top pick for ambitious basketball players who are looking for a quality hoop that will last a long time.
Best Gifts for Basketball Players – 20 Great Basketball Gift Ideas
Best Arm Sleeves for Basketball – Top 5 Shooting Sleeves
The 7 Best Basketball Hoops for Kids and Toddlers
The Best Mouth Guards for Basketball – How to Protect Your Teeth!
The Best Basketball Books: My Personal Top Five