When Dr. James Naismith nailed a peach basket up in a Kansas YMCA thus inventing basketball, he probably didn't imagine a future suburbia where driveway hoops dot the landscape. For many, a house isn't a home without a hoop. There are many options when looking for a home basketball system, but with a little research and some assembly, anyone with a little space and some time can be swishing shots by sundown.
When choosing a type of system, make sure that you consider where you are going to put it. You need plenty of room to play, no fragile windows nearby, and a smooth surface. You might also want to make sure that the location you choose won't be in the way of any traffic or cars. If you have all this in place, then you can think about whether or not you have the room for a full size system or if you would rather get something you can mount on the house or garage. Keep in mind that mounting a board means that it is not adjustable, so as soon as Junior grows a few inches, that means you have to adjust the system. Freestanding systems often come as adjustable models that can be raised or lowered between seven and ten feet high, great for a growing kid or a family of basketball players of various sizes.
There are three major features to be concerned with after you have decided what type of system you want: the backboard, rim, and net. The desirable qualities of each of these parts pertains to all types of systems.
* Backboards can be made of Plexiglas, acrylic, graphite, a composite, or metal (resistant to vandalism). Sometimes people even build their own backboards out of wood. It is a cheap option, which if you decide that's the best route for you, stick to heavy duty wood so that it won't crack or splinter.
* Glass gives a great rebound, and is typically what is used for any competitive basketball games. Acrylic gives the same look, with a similar feel, but it will cost less. Though acrylic backboards look like indoor baskets, they lack stability, and often come with a steel frame for support.
* Fiberglass and graphite backboards play the most like professional baskets, but lack durability.
* Look for backboards with a target on them. It makes practice much easier when you know where your target is.
* Backboards can be the standard rectangular size (42" x 72") or of the rounded, or "fan" variety (39" x 54"). Part of choosing is size has to do with how much space you have and how much room you want to bank your shots off of the board.
* Basketball rims are 18 inches in diameter. The rim construction should have a minimum diameter of 5/8 inch and solid steel support braces at least 1/2 inch diameter for durability.
* They come in two types, either fixed to the backboard with a single metal piece, or as "breakaway" rims.
* Breakaway rims are spring-loaded, meaning that they give under pressure making them more forgiving, and more like professional rims. Under pressure, breakaway rims will flex and absorb the strain, rather than to cause the backboard to break. This is important if you plan to do any kind of dunking or hanging from the rim.
* All rims have net clips or welded steel net hooks to hold on the net.