Four basketball pole specification to check before buying
Author Ryan Tate
Posted March 19, 2013 in category

If you’re trying to get the best bang for your buck, here are four basketball pole specs you’ll want to pay attention to when researching your next basketball goal system.

Gauge
When you see a gauge specification it is usually referring to the thickness of steel on the main pole. You may also see this measured in inches as well. For example, 3/16 inch is the approximately the same as 7 gauge.

An important note on gauge is that it is measured inverse to what logic tells us. The smaller the gauge, the thicker the steel. For example, 7 gauge (also abbreviated as 7ga.) is 50% thicker than 11ga. steel. A helpful diagram of the most common gauges you’ll see referenced on basketball hoops is below.


A diagram comparing common basketball pole thicknesses

The thicker the steel, the more rigid the pole and overall system will be. This is an important factor and should play a major role in you basketball goal buying decision. I’d try to get the thickest main pole within budget as this is a good proxy for the overall quality of the system.

If you’re looking for the thickest poles, check out our basketball goals which all use top-of-the-line 7ga. main poles.

Size and Shape
You will most commonly see three shapes of main pole on a basketball goal.

Round
Square
Rectangular

Round poles are usually found on lower end models and tend to be multi-piece. They will also use a very thin steel.  Homeowners will sometimes fill these with concrete or sand to help improve stability. The most common diameter is 3.5 inches. If budget allows, I would not recommend one of these systems. Higher-end systems will usually use a square or rectangular pole.

Sizes of square and rectangular poles are all over the map. Some of the most common poles sizes are…

  • 4″ x 4″
  • 5″ x 5″
  • 5.5″ x 5.5″
  • 6″ x 6″
  • 8″ x 6″
  • 8″ x 8″
  • 12″ x 8″

On rectangular poles, the larger dimension will usually be the depth as to add more stability in the fore and aft direction since this is where most strains will be. The larger the size, the more stable the system will be.

Watch for ratios here. For example if you have a 6 inch square pole with a 60 inch backboard your ratio would be 6/60=.1. This is higher than say 5/60=.08 which is a 5 inch pole with 60 inch backboard. This is a bit simplistic as there are other factors to weigh but it will give you a rough idea of overall stability.

Gussets
Gussets are found on flange ground-mounted basketball pole systems. They help to stabilize the pole where it attaches to the flanged base. They essentially shorten the pole making it more rigid. You’ll see a count of these ranging from 0 to 8. Generally speaking, the more gussets, the better.

Note: Direct burial basketball goals are not able to benefit from a gusseted base.

Ground Mounting
There are four types of in-ground mounting. A breakdown of each is below.

Direct Burial
This is where the pole is inserted directly into the concrete. The main challenge with this method is that you must make sure it cures precisely level or you’ll end up with a crooked basketball goal. You can also not move this system once it has been installed.

Sleeve
Great in theory but not so much in practice. You still have to make sure the sleeve is precisely level or you’ll end up with a crooked basketball goal. One of the advertised advantages is that you can pull it out and install a new sleeve somewhere else if you want to move the basketball goal. In practice this proves to be almost impossible without a crane. The main advantage is that manufactures can break their basketball systems into smaller pieces which helps with shipping and storage.

Flange and Hinge
Again, the flange must be precisely level with this method. The advantage over those mentioned so far is that you truly can move this system without issue.

J-Bolt
Bolts are sunk into the concrete in a certain pattern (usually 9” x 9” on center). Once the concrete has cured, you erect the basketball system on top of them. The key advantage here is that you can level the whole system even after the concrete has cured ensuring you will not have a crooked basketball goal. Also, this method allows for easy moving just like the Flange and Hinge method.  All of our basketball systems use this method.

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