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How to Build a Basketball Court

If you are not only a basketball fan, but an enthusiastic player, or someone who has kids who are competitive hoopsters, you know the concept of the home court advantage means just as much to you as it does to big-time basketball players.

Instead of referring to the perceived benefit a team has when hosting a game on its usual court in its normal gym or arena, home court advantage could also suggest a place where you or your kids can play your own full-court games without even leaving your property. Have you considered building your own basketball court in your own backyard? Just how much work and cost would it really entail?

The beauty of basketball is that, 1) it can be played by as many as 10 people, but it can be practiced all alone, and 2) it can be played in both large and relatively confined spaces. This is what has long made it "the city game." And it can also be the driveway game, because while an NBA court is 94 feet long, you can create a playing area in your own yard or driveway that is just a fraction of that size.

Importance of the surface

Choose a flat surface on your property to start with, because you cannot play basketball on an incline. Purchase either one or two dedicated goals/backboards to cement into the ground--depending on whether you have the room for a court with two baskets or just an area for one. Measure out your desired dimensions and clear out everything but the dirt in the area you just marked off and level the area by redistributing the dirt so the would-be court has no hills or bumps.

When the weather is dry and you have a couple of days to allow the concrete to set, you can install a concrete foundation. This is the time to install the pole hoops, which should be placed 36"-48" into the ground via the installation method called for by your specific hoop. The regulation height for the rim is 10 feet from the playing surface to the top of the rim. Alternately, you can contact a cement company to handle the "heavy lifting" associated with pouring the concrete for your court. A company can also install the hoops and post footings.

How to mount your hoop

There are four different ways to mount basketball poles in the ground--sleeve, direct burial, J-bolt, or flange anchor. J-bolt mounting entails embedding J-bolts into wet concrete in a certain pattern, and then placing the basketball system on top of them after the poured concrete has cured. The whole system can still be properly leveled even after the concrete has cured, which is a big advantage over the direct bury method.

The thickness of the pole and the method you employ for installing the pole are both more important than the size of the pole. Steel thickness is measured in gauges: the lower the number the thicker the steel. Some brands offer a big pole, but one that if made with steel that might be too thin. An 11 gauge, 4" pole for example would be stronger than a thinner 5" pole. Just as important is how the pole is buried in the ground. Direct bury poles do not have as much vibration as bolt-down or "pier" mount poles. Vibrations on a direct bury pole quickly travel down the pole and are absorbed into the ground--almost the way a lightning rod "grounds" a lightning strike. The vibrations on a J-bolt pole accumulate at the mount plate, so vibrations on these types of poles tend to be more constant. Choose a direct bury pole for more rigidity, and a J-bolt pole for removability.

How wide should the backboard be?

You should take some time to consider the width of the backboard you will be installing on your backyard or driveway basketball court. Regulation size is 72" wide, but your decision will be influenced by how much room you have in your intended play area. A backboard that is 54" wide might be ideal for the average two-car wide driveway, or on a 30' X 30' court. A 60" wide backboard might be the choice for a driveway that is two or three cars wide, and for smaller half-court setups. Backboards that are 72" wide (regulation size) are quite large. They might actually appear out of place in smaller driveways and courts, but if you have a larger area to devote to a home basketball court, a 6-foot wide backboard would be ideal, and authentic.

Surface of the court

You can surface your court with modular suspended tile, asphalt, rubber flooring or custom floors--of course, if this is an outdoor court, make sure that whatever surface you select is waterproof. Use masking tape, spray paint and a tape measure, or a stenciling kit, to create the markings on your own backyard basketball court.

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