The 5 Best In-Ground Basketball Hoop of 2018

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Updated: March 26, 2018

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world. Thousands of children the world over grow up playing the game. Many of them dream of one day playing in the NBA or representing their country in the Olympics.

The road from childhood ambitions to professional reality doesn’t have any shortcuts, but there are a lot of ways to help your child develop their game. One of the ways you can do this is buying a basketball hoop so your kid can practice at home. This can be especially valuable for high school athletes and college hopefuls.

Of course, you don’t need to have an aspiring athlete to justify buying a basketball hoop. A pickup game of basketball is a great way to exercise, and both children and adults alike can enjoy playing with their friends.

There are several different styles of basketball hoop to choose from. Before you start shopping for hoops, you should first consider which style best suits your home, lifestyle and budget.

This guide will provide a brief overview of the three main types of basketball hoop and the benefits of each one. We will then focus specifically on the features of in-ground basketball hoops. Finally, we will feature our top-five product reviews, including a brief overview of the our picks, followed by a more in-depth look at each of the products.

Picking the Right Basketball Hoop

Choice is a great thing. What’s best for me may not be what’s best for you. When you know what your options are, you’re in a better position to make an informed decision as a consumer. So let’s take a brief look at the three main types of basketball hoop.

1. In-Ground

A frequent sight in city parks large and small, in-ground hoops are the most stable basketball hoops and provide the best performance. However, they are also the most expensive type of basketball hoop. While some low-end models are available for around $200-$300, a professional-grade hoop can cost $1000 or more. What’s more, professional installation fees can run well over $400. If you own your own home, however, in-ground hoops can be considered a worthy investment.

2. Portable

Arguably the most popular style of basketball hoop, portable hoops tend to be less expensive than the in-ground models, and they are also easier to move around. The biggest downside to portable hoops is that they tend often have balance issues and the base is easy to trip over when you’re diving for a rebound. They are a great choice to buy if you don’t own your own home, and a high-end model performs almost as well as their stationary counterparts.

3. Wall-Mounted

Although they’ve declined in popularity in recent years thanks to the invention of the portable hoop, wall-mounted hoops are much less expensive and are perfectly suited for friendly games in the driveway. They also take up much less space than an in-ground or portable hoop. However, they do not provide an authentic playing experience, and are better suited for informal shootarounds then for high school athletes.

What You Need to Know About In-Ground Hoops

Because they are fixed to the ground, typically in concrete, you never have to worry about the stability of your basketball hoop, provided it is installed correctly. That means you can pay more attention to the things that matter most: your backboard and your rim.

The Backboard

No matter how good of a player you are, you’re going to miss a lot of shots. 50% might be a failing grade in school, but in the world of basketball, it’s an A+. Michael Jordan, who led the league in points per game for ten of his fifteen seasons, shot 50% for his entire career. Even Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, the most prolific scorer in history, made 56% of his career shots.

You might be wondering what the shooting percentage of an NBA legend has to do with the backboard of a hoop. It’s simple: if you miss a shot, you need to be able to rebound the ball. The materials used in your backboard affect the way it rebounds the ball. The better the quality, the more accurately the ball bounces off of it.

Although a backboard can be made out of a variety of materials, there are three materials that are used more commonly than others. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from each one.

1.Tempered Glass

If you’re looking for an authentic NBA experience, a tempered glass backboard is the way to go. Glass backboards are used by college basketball and professional teams alike. No other material comes close to the bounce and performance of tempered glass. Hoops with glass backboards tend to cost more, but you should be able to find one for around $400.

2. Acrylic

Acrylic backboards are made with a kind of durable plastic. Although they don’t offer quite the performance of tempered glass, they are lighter and more durable, and are frequently used in mid-priced models. They are especially desirable in portable basketball hoops, as they won’t break if the hoop is knocked over somehow.

3. Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate backboards, along with other plastic backboards, are stiff and fairly durable, but often don’t provide a very good bounce. These are frequently used for inexpensive models, especially basketball hoops aimed at younger children, where the quality of the bounce isn’t as important. They’re a poor fit for a serious athlete but adequate for a simple game.


The Rim

There are two basic types of rim: standard and breakaway. Standard rims are so called because they used to be used in all basketball hoops. In the 1970s, the breakaway rim was developed, and is now standard for all professional basketball hoops.

1.Standard

The main difference between a standard rim and a breakaway rim are the springs. There are no springs in a breakaway rim, which means that when they’re dunked on, they tend to warp and can even break the backboard. For this reason, standard rims aren’t used on high-end basketball hoops. However, cheaper hoops that use acrylic or polycarbonate backboards aren’t in any danger of breaking, and are more likely to use a cheaper rim.

2.Breakaway

There are two varieties of breakaway rim: enclosed spring and exposed spring. Differences in quality of the materials notwithstanding, the main difference between the two is whether the breakaway springs are enclosed in plastic or not. Exposed breakaway rims can rust when exposed to the weather, especially in humid environments. Most top-tier basketball hoops use enclosed springs.


The Nine Yards

The backboard and the rim are the two most important features of your hoop, but there are a couple of other things you need to consider as well.

1.Backboard Support

Your backboard and rim will only be as stable as the supports that hold it up. There are three different tiers of backboard support: one-piece, two-piece and three-piece support poles. As far as in-ground hoops are concerned, you only need to worry about one-piece and two-piece supports. The rule is, the fewer the supports, the better. So you’ll generally find one-piece backboard supports on high-end hoops and two-piece supports on mid-tier products.

2.Backboard Adjustment

Most basketball hoops – even the inexpensive ones – have a mechanism that allows you to adjust their height. Most modern hoops have a crank that allows for easy adjustment and can adjust from 7 ½ to 10 feet in height. Some high-end models give you a wider range of adjustment, however. If you have young children, make sure your hoop has a good range of adjustment.

Our Recommendations

 

Lifetime 71281

 

Spalding NBA 54”

 

Silverback SB60 ProDunk Gold 60” Spalding “888” Series

 

*BEST ON BUDGET* *BEST VALUE* *TOP PICK*
What We Like 1. Affordable budget model

2. Comes with a five-year warranty

3. Height is easy to adjust

1. Good price for glass backboard

2. Comes with a five-year warranty

3. Good stability

 

1. Larger backboard is closer to regulation size

2. Comes with a five-year warranty

3. Excellent mounting system

1. Single-piece support provides excellent stability

2. Includes padding set for extra safety

3. Uses rust-free materials

1. Officially licensed NBA

2. Regulation size backboard

3. Sturdy, flexible breakaway rim

What We Don’t Like 1. Tends to wobble, especially when dunked on

2. Three-piece support isn’t very secure

1. Backboard isn’t thick enough

2. Height adjustment is creaky

1. Very heavy frame

2. Wobbles sometimes when dunked on

1. Extremely heavy frame

2. Backboard isn’t regulation

1. Extremely heavy frame

 

Who Should Buy This? This hoop isn’t adequate for high-school athletes, but if you just want a hoop for casual games, this is a great choice because of its affordability. Similar in price to the Lifetime 71281, a glass backboard and two-piece supports make for a more authentic shooting experience. Neither a budget model nor a high-end hoop, the Silverback is a good middle ground. If you’re serious about basketball but have a limited budget, this is where the money is. Expensive but well made, and with an industry-leading five feet of adjustment, this hoop is a good fit for anyone serious about basketball. Spalding is the biggest name in basketball equipment. This hoop is expensive, but the quality is worth it. This is a must-have for any collegiate-bound athlete, but is too expensive for casual play.

A Closer Look

In-Ground Hoops Under $300

1.Lifetime 71281 In Ground Power Lift Basketball System

At a Glance

Height Adjustable from 7 ½’ to 10’
Weight 84 pounds
Backboard 52” steel-frame shatterproof polyethylene
Rim Breakaway – exposed spring
Support Three-piece steel poles
Warranty Five year limited

Most of us want the best out of life. We want the best car, the best home, the best cell phone, even the best pizza. But sometimes, for some things, we really don’t need the best. If you’re a graphic designer, you need the best computer money can buy. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, not so much. We might want the best of everything money can buy, but at the end of the day we settle on the things that are most important.

For most people, a basketball hoop falls under the latter category. Basketball is a lot of fun, and unlike most sports, you don’t need a lot of people, expensive equipment or a large area to play. All you need is a ball and a hoop, and unless you have a promising young high school athlete at home, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on a hoop.

Lifetime makes several budget-friendly basketball hoops, but the Lifetime 71281 is the best of the bunch. It strikes the perfect balance between performance and economy. Since it is mounted in concrete directly in the ground, it is far more stable than a portable hoop and less likely to tip over. It’s also easier to keep it level and balanced.

Let’s talk about specifics. The backboard is 52 inches and is made out of a durable polycarbonate. While this doesn’t offer the best rebounding, even if the hoop is knocked over by a hurricane or some other force. It also means it won’t shatter when you dunk on it. The breakaway rim is fairly durable and easy to dunk on, but the hoop does tend to wobble when you do so.

Aside from the backboard, the biggest drawback of the hoop is its support. Three-piece supports are typically used in portable basketball hoops, and they aren’t very sturdy. In addition, this hoop is very light. The average hoop weighs 300-500 pounds, but this weighs less than 100, so you really notice when a heavier person dunks. When you consider that a professional power forward can weigh upwards of 250 pounds, that’s a big deal.

The bottom line here is, this is a hoop that’s really meant for casual games and younger players. It is perfect for layups and three-point shots, and adjusting the height is as simple as moving a lever, which makes it easy to set this up for people of all ages to play. But if your son weighs twice as much as the hoop itself, he might want to think twice before he dunks.

Verdict: Ideal for younger kids and families on a budget. Not recommended for serious dunking or high school / collegiate athletes.

Check Price on Amazon


In-Ground Hoops Under $400

2.Spalding NBA 54” In-Ground Basketball System

At a Glance

Height Adjustable from 7 ½’ to 10’
Weight 145 pounds
Backboard 54” steel-frame tempered glass
Rim Breakaway – exposed spring
Support Two-piece steel poles
Warranty Five year

Spalding, along with Nike, might be the biggest name brand in basketball – other than the NBA itself, of course. And that’s because Spalding is an official sponsor of the NBA. Every basketball and every hoop across every professional arena in the United States uses Spalding. They’re also the official partners of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague on the other side of the Pacific.

The name Spalding carries weight with it. That means our expectations are just a little higher when we see a hoop adorned with the NBA logo. Fortunately, the Spalding 54” in-ground basketball system doesn’t disappoint – mostly.

Right off the bat, there are several obvious improvements over the slightly cheaper Lifetime 71281, most notably the tempered glass backboard. The backboard is only ¼ inch thick, which is a little thinner than a standard glass backboard. But considering how economical this hoop is, it’s hard to fault them too much.

Another notable difference is the breakaway rim – the spring isn’t exposed on this model. That means the rim performs just a little better, and it also means it’s less likely to weather or rust. The hoop also has better support, with two poles instead of three. A two-pole setup still isn’t ideal, but you’re not going to do better for under $400. The hoop is also a little heavier than the Lifetime, which helps it feel a little more secure. Having said that, hanging onto the hoop after you dunk is definitely not recommended, especially if you’re a little heavier. While it’s harder to warp breakaway rims, it isn’t impossible.

Although I didn’t personally have any problems with the backboard, there are some consistent complaints from customers that the backboard shatters. These instances are cases of manufacturer defect, and Spalding will happily replace your backboard since you’re under warranty. That said, a broken backboard is a disheartening experience.

This hoop isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it’s an improvement over the Lifetime 71281. This isn’t an ideal practice hoop for a young athlete, but it will get the job done. If you need to buy a hoop for your kid and don’t have a lot of money to spend, this is a good choice.

Verdict: Ideal for younger kids and families on a budget. Acceptable but not ideal for high school / collegiate athletes. Not recommended for serious dunking.

Check Price on Amazon


In-Ground Hoops Under $800


3.Silverback B5402W 60″ In-Ground Basketball System

At a Glance

Height Adjustable from 7 ½’ to 10’
Weight 203 pounds
Backboard 60” tempered glass
Rim Breakaway – enclosed spring
Support Two-piece steel poles
Warranty Five-year limited

Compromise can be a wonderful thing. It’s inspiring when people or groups with different ideas can come together and find common ground. Nowhere is this more true than in marriage. Compromise is often considered essential to a successful marriage, because nobody agrees on anything all of the time.

Life is full of compromises, and so are the things we buy. Very few of us can afford to buy whatever we want, so we strive to find the middle ground and make the best of what we have. The Silverback B5402W 60” basketball hoop is an exercise in compromise. It occupies a middle ground between the middling performance of a budget model and the high cost of top-tier options, and just may be the best overall value of all.

Possibly the most notable difference between this hoop and all the others is its mounting system. Most in-ground hoops are embedded in concrete. This is very stable and secure, it’s also very permanent. If you ever want to relocate and sell your home, you’ll have to leave your hoop behind.

The Silverback bucks this reality with an innovative anchor mount that bolts into the ground – and can be unbolted if you ever decide to move. While this isn’t nearly as stable as being secured in three feet of concrete, it’s a good deal less permanent. Considering the cost of a premium basketball hoop, that makes a big difference.

The hoop itself weighs 203 or 204 pounds, which is roughly half of what a professional hoop weighs. The backboard is 60 inches of tempered glass, and the breakaway rim is quite sturdy and flexible. The hoop has a large padded area to prevent you from hurting yourself when you go in for a layup, and the hoop is strong and sturdy enough for solid dunks. The hoop has 2 ½ feet of overhand from it’s pole, so you’ve got a good amount of room to maneuver beneath the basket. The height can be adjusted by a simple crank shaft, situated within easy reach so people of all ages can raise or lower the hoop.

So what makes this a lesser hoop? Well, two (or maybe, three) things. First is the size of the backboard. A regulation backboard is 72 inches, so if you really want to experience proper NBA rebounding, this just barely misses the par. The other difference is the supports. Top-tier hoops have a single, heavy pole to brace the backboard. Silverback uses two slender poles that don’t offer nearly as much stability.

Finally, there’s the matter of the anchors. The hoop is stable enough under normal conditions, but if you live somewhere and experience occasional or frequent high winds, this doesn’t have several feet of concrete to hold it in place. Still, it’s a minor issue, more a matter of taste than an actual problem with the hoop.

Verdict: An excellent basketball hoop, and a retail price under $1000. Suitable for children of all ages, and acceptable for high school / collegiate athletes to practice.

Check Price on Amazon


In-Ground Hoops Under $1600

 

4.Pro Dunk Gold 60” In-Ground Basketball Hoop

At a Glance

Height Adjustable from 5’ to 10’
Weight 470 pounds
Backboard 60” tempered glass
Rim Breakaway – enclosed spring
Support One-piece steel pole
Warranty Limited lifetime

Have you ever been able to do something just a little bit better than everyone else? Maybe you sing “La Donna È Mobile” as well as Pavarotti. (Actually, that’s impossible.) Maybe you can bank thirty foot shots at the drop of the hat. My forte is pie: nobody makes a better apple pie than I do.

This hoop just happens to have one such superlative. It has a superior adjustment range to any basketball hoop on the market. Most hoops can be adjusted from 7 ½ feet to 10 feet. Pro Dunk Gold can be adjusted all the way down to five feet, so even your little ones and their friends can play.

There’s a lot to recommend this hoop besides its extraordinary range. At 470 pounds, it’s rock-solid, with a solid one-piece beam for unparalleled backboard support. It features a 60 inch tempered glass backboard and a breakaway rim, and is hefty enough that you can dunk safely and securely without worrying about damaging the rim.

Another notable feature of this hoop is its Rust Armor – a special coating that combats rusting, ensuring long life for your hoop and keeping it pristine even in humid climates. It also comes with an inch of padding for protection around the rim as you go in for a layup, and an easy-access, low-hanging handle that makes for easy height adjustment.

The biggest downside to this hoop is the backboard. It performs well, but this is an expensive hoop, and it doesn’t even include a regulation backboard. Considering that there are other similarly priced hoops that do feature a 72 inch backboard, this seems like a major oversight.

One thing to keep in mind is that this hoop is exceptionally heavy. It weighs nearly 500 pounds and requires a hand truck just to move it. Due to its extreme weight and its value, self-installation is not recommended unless you have professional experience.

Verdict: Expensive, but well-made and high quality. Suitable for players of all ages and skill levels.

Check Price on Amazon


In-Ground Hoops Under $1600

 

5.Spalding “888” Series In-Ground Basketball System

At a Glance

Height Adjustable from 7 ½’ to 10’
Weight 498 pounds
Backboard 72” steel frame tempered glass
Rim Breakaway – enclosed spring
Support One-piece steel pole
Warranty Limited lifetime

When you think of basketball, what comes to mind? A playoff game at Madison Square Garden? Stephen Curry and his mind-blowing sharpshooting? Loud chants of “DEFENSE” at every home game?

Chances are, when you think of basketball, you think of the NBA. That’s what makes the Spalding 888 Series so great. The Spalding 888 is officially licensed by the NBA and bears its ubiquitous logo both on the backboard itself and on the generous padding that adorns the pole.

Everything about this hoop is a step above the competition. It features a regulation-sized 72 inch backboard, made with 3/8 inch of steel-framed tempered glass. The backboard is supported by a solid square six-inch pole. The board is offset four feet from the pole so you can clog the paint just like the pros do in the big time.

The proprietary Flex Slam breakaway rim is second to none. It’s solid and stable, and even the net looks different from other basketball hoops. With a sturdy base, large backboard and 500 pounds of metal behind it, you can dunk to your heart’s content.

Even aesthetically, the 888 Series blows away the competition. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better looking basketball hoop anywhere. This may not be the most affordable hoop on the market, but you won’t find a better one.

Verdict: Superlative design, solid construction. It’s expensive, but the quality and performance is second to none.

Check Price on Amazon

 Final Thoughts

I was watching a highlight reel of a recent NBA game in Charlotte, North Carolina. Toronto Raptor Serge Ibaka launched a bad three, and four Hornets were boxing out Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas. Kyle Lowry – who stands all of six feet – came out of nowhere to grab the rebound. With the shot clock winding to zero, he threaded the ball to DeMar DeRozan, who knocked down an off-balance three-pointer just before the buzzer sounded.

Basketball is so much more than just a game or a competition. It’s meaningful and tangible in a way that is difficult to describe. Hope and exultation, triumph and courage, the freedom to control your destiny: all of that lives in 29.5 inches of ball. Chances are you’ll never get a chance to posterize LeBron James at the Staples Center. But with a basketball hoop, you can make your own moments to remember.

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