I t may seem that the only aspect to debate when comparing in-ground and portable basketball hoops is the installation method. Yet things are not as simple as they seem since the two options are different from many points of view, starting with the quality of the materials used in their construction and ending with the size of the backboard. While most reviews will tackle aspects regarding their ability to withstand rust, sun, and strong winds, for portable models, the accent is put on their weight and the possibility to relocate them with ease. In this article, we compare the main components of the two types of goals to see how they are different and in which situations you should pick one over the other.
Let’s start with the most noticeable difference: permanent hoops go into the ground, and their base is covered with concrete, while non-permanent models come with a large base that needs to be stuffed with water or sand to counterbalance the heaviness of the pole and board. Now let’s focus on the specifics of each option:
There are three options available: direct burial, ground sleeve, and anchor installation.
The first method, which is also the oldest, implies digging a hole of about 4’ deep or more, placing the pole inside it, and covering it with concrete. It sounds pretty simple, and it is if you have some experience working with concrete, as you need to check that the pole is placed in the center of the hole and stands perpendicular to the ground until it cements into it. Lifetime goals are often designed for this type of installation.
This is the most common in-ground arrangement, as hoops that come with a sleeve are more inexpensive than those with anchoring systems. They also promise that you will be able to remove them from the ground in the eventuality that you need to relocate and just plant them on another site by using a new sleeve.
So what is the sleeve more precisely? It is a steel tube that goes directly into the hole you have dug into the ground. Then, you pour concrete around it and wait for it to become firm. After completing this step, you just need to slide the pole inside the sleeve and secure it with bolts. When it’s time to move, the manufacturers say that you will be able to just unbolt and remove the pole.
This system is very common to Spalding hoops, especially to more low-end models, and has proven to be extremely reliable. Nevertheless, in our experience, the sleeve portability is not really a thing since the pole and sleeve tend to stick to one another over time, and it becomes basically impossible to separate them.
The latest method regarding hoop installation consists of a steel square plate that is provided with J-shaped bolts. To install this system, you need to fill the hole with concrete and then place the plate with the bolts in it. The bolts sink as deep as 2’, so the arrangement is exceptionally solid. When the concrete is solid, you can bolt the pole in this support. You will encounter this type of setup in more expensive models, like those produced by Pro Dunk, for instance. The best thing here is that you can simply unbolt your goal and transport it to the new location.
These models are conceived to facilitate transportation. This means that steel is no longer preferred for the base and is, in most cases, replaced with plastic. This may seem like a hazard waiting to happen, but there is more engineering here that has the purpose of preventing injury risks that were associated with basketball. More precisely, the support is empty and waits for you to pour sand or water into it (sometimes it may need both).
The size of the base is directly proportional to the size of the board as it needs to work as a counterbalance. For instance, when it comes to such a large goal as Spalding The Beast, which carries a heavy temperate glass panel, you will need about 55 lbs. of sand for the basketball hoop.
Even if the balance you attain is textbook and the pole doesn’t seem to move at all, when using a non-permanent model, it is not advised to try slam dunks on it.
For permanent models, the pole can be either square or round. Square models are often built in one piece and are the sturdiest, while it isn’t uncommon for round models to come in 3 pieces. This takes a bit from their stability, but people choose them because they tend to be cheaper. Most poles are protected against rust by a powder coat, while the more expensive models have a zinc galvanized layer underneath the final layer, which is called an “armor”.
Since they need to be transportable, portable poles are lighter and almost always round. The protection layer is often less resistant, and even the warranty is shorter, as it is clear that these models are not intended to last for a lifetime. Thus they are easier to disassemble when you decide to dispose of them according to the municipal rules.
The most common boards are those made from acrylic, polycarbonate, and hardened glass, yet the third choice is more common with in-ground hoops as it is hefty. For portable models, the lighter the board, the better, and we must say that the other types of materials are pretty resistant as well. The gain of using a glass board is that it offers the same rebound as an official goal and is very durable, but this doesn’t mean that it cannot smash if you are playing too aggressively. Remember Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal during the games against the New Jersey Nets and the Phoenix Suns when he shattered two very robust tempered glass backboards?
There are two common types of rims accessible, and you can get them for each of the goals: fixed and breakaway. The first type is the most inexpensive and is rigid, so there are more chances that it will break if you play more aggressively. Collapsible hoops, alternatively, include a spring system that allows them to bend under your weight, thus reducing the impact on their structure. They are the best if you are into dunks, and the proof is that they were introduced after Darryl Dawkins shattered a backboard when dunking on a fixed rim.
A third option is obtainable, the double rim basketball hoops, which come with two rings for extra strength. You will want to opt for the double rim and breakaway for in-ground models as they are sturdier and can support you hanging on them.
By now, you should be familiarized with the components of both moveable and non-moveable goals and be able to tell which would work best for your situation. But let’s put them face to face one last time and see which is worthier to be selected according to the main qualities players expect when looking to buy them.