Sometimes you can look at a driveway and it is obvious where the basketball goal should go. Other times there are multiple options or you have to make trade-offs due to constraints like utility lines, trees, windows and neighbors.
In this post I’ll attempt to cover the best method for determining your driveway basketball court layout and common pitfalls to look out for when choosing a location for your new outdoor basketball goal.
Laying out your driveway basketball court
- Print out court dimensions (These are high school court dimensions, the most popular)
- Create a diagram of your playing area to scale with the court dimension diagram. Add three things to it…
- Playing area dimensions
- Utilities – Call 811 to have them marked if you do not know where they are
- Easement and property lines
- Cut out the void spots in the court dimension diagram so you can overlay it on top of the playing area diagram you made. Move it around until you find the position that’s best for your area.
Choosing the right basketball goal
There are three things to consider when choosing a basketball goal for your playing area…
The bigger the backboard the wider variety of bank shots you can take on it. If you have a wide playing area, you will be able to take advantage of a bigger backboard whereas if you have a narrow playing area, it is not as beneficial to go with a wide backboard. My rule of thumb is…
- 54 inch backboard for anything less than 15 feet wide
- 60 inch backboard for anything between 15 and 25 feet
- 72 inch backboard for anything larger than 25 feet
Definition: n. o·ver·hang – The distance from the front of the pole to the front of the backboard
Generally speaking, the larger the overhang, the better. This is more true if you’re going to be playing 2-on-2 a lot as more play is done underneath the basket (lay-ups, rebounds, etc.).So, if you have a deep playing area, get a basketball goal with a large overhang (4-5 feet) and install the pole close to the playing surface to maximize the playing area underneath the basket. If you have a shallow playing area consider where the free-throw (15 feet from the backboard) and three-point (21 feet from the backboard) line will be. If you want to make sure to get these lines in you can adjust two things.
- You can get a basketball goal with a small overhang (3 feet).
- You can pull the pole off of the playing area some.
You can do both or just one depending on your situation. If you don’t have room to pull the pole off of the court, consider getting a short overhang instead.
Tip: Have the backboard hang over your driveway at least 2 feet. Any less and you will have balls and players out in the grass a lot.
Tip: Watch my video on pier placement. It goes over these things a little more with visuals!
If you have a competitive player now or your children might be competitive in the future it is advisable to get the highest performing system that will fit your area. This will future-proof your goal and you will be happy you made this decision down the road. Optimally you’ll want to get a system with a regulation-sized backboard for competitive players so they can come home practice just like they play up at the gym. As you get larger, rigidity of the system also improves further emulating the gymnasium experience. If you are not going to have competitive players using the system, the performance and backboard size are not paramount.
If the curve is close to the basket in such a way that it is taking away playing area, consider getting a basketball goal with a bigger overhang so the backboard projects into the playing area more thus minimizing the impact of the curve.
Most setups are done so that the basketball goal is seen from a profile view, not head on. This really minimizes the impact the goal has on your home. Also, the glass is clear so you can see right through it and the support structure is black with very little signage so it blends in quite nicely.
If possible, do not situate the basketball goal so that players will be shooting into the setting west sun. It is hard to practice free-throws with your eyes closed.
Scan the playing area for breakables like windows and lamps. Try to keep these out of the main playing area.
It is best to avoid downward sloping hills behind the basketball system unless you like chasing balls. There are solutions though. I’d recommend the Guard Net from RolBak.
- Sprinkler head – Lines are okay as you can pour the concrete right around them
- Utility lines
- Roots – Try not to kill your trees!
Most in-ground basketball hoops are installed right next to the driveway in the grass. This is not always the case though. There are many situations where you might want to install it where concrete already is. In this scenario, you can simple jackhammer through the driveway and pour the pier. This is not a big deal and will only add and hour or two to the installation time. Also, it can be done so that the gusset pad at the base of the system covers the seam making for a very clean install.
The concrete footprint is not all that is required in most cases. For example, with Pro Dunk basketball goals, extra clearance for the adjustment mechanism behind the basketball goal is required. Be sure to take this into account when backing the basketball goal up to something like a garage, easement or retaining wall.
Most basketball goals are calibrated after everything is said and done to make sure the height indicator is accurate but there are limitations. For example, if you install your concrete pier below the playing surface too far, the rim may not reach 10 feet. Pro Dunk systems have some leniency here but not much so be sure to install the pier even with the playing surface.
Effective Concrete Additions
If you have the room and budget to expand your driveway, one suggestion I’d make is to create a “runway” of sorts into the basket. 15 feet wide is good. I wouldn’t go any more than about 3 or 4 feet long though. This is enough room for players to run in for lay-ups and box out for rebounds. This also expands the court in front of the backboard allowing you to get in more jump-shots.
Remember to look up too. The top of the backboard will be about 13 to 14 feet above the ground. Do some pruning or choose another spot if limbs are in the way.
Are you thinking about putting the basketball goal where a lot of people back their car up? You might be better off putting it somewhere else to avoid any crashes. Believe me, the goal does not always get the worst of it. Also, consider adding reflective tape to the system to try to catch the driver’s eye.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide but it is a lot of what our installation experts think about when they go out to help a customer find the perfect spot for their new basketball goal. What pitfalls have you found or avoided? Add your suggestions in the comments below.