The Complete Process of Installing an In-Ground Basketball Hoop

Owning an in-ground basketball hoop is indeed a special feeling. Except for its great sturdiness and perfect rebound feel, you don’t have to worry if it’s going to fall over every time it gets little windy.

Although installing this type of hoop may seem like something doable only by pros, it’s easy to do it if you follow the right instructions.

You’re a few steps ahead if you read our articles on how to dig a hole for a basketball pole and on installing a ground pole sleeve for a basketball hoop. If you haven’t, you’ll catch up.

In this article, we’re explaining the complete process of installing an in-ground basketball hoop. No matter which brand you own (Spalding, Goalrilla, Lifetime, etc.), we’ve got you covered. It takes time, but you should be able to do it without making a mess.

My experience

I first must say that we installed a hoop pretty easily. In advance of getting the delivery, I checked some YouTube videos on how to install Lifetime basketball hoop in the ground. I’m linking all relevant sources in this article.

Thankfully, my 16-year-old boy took on the task of digging the 48″ deep hole for the hoop. We needed around 11 bags of 80 lb concrete bag to fill the hole. The #4 rebar was included in the package, so it spared me another trip to the hardware shop. Delicately placing the anchor bolts into wet concrete will make the job very straightforward.

We kept things as level as we could, and that served a lot later when placing the pole to bolt down basketball hoop. We protected the top of the anchor bolts from possible damage during the pole installation by wrapping it with blue painter’s tape.

Make sure you have at least three step ladders for backboard attachment. We also recommend it for the initial lifting of the backboard. After the heavy work was done, the rest was smooth. The rim went up quickly enough, and that was it! I was great to do something useful with my boy. We love to adjust it for a summer evening dunk session when dad’s home.

How are we going to install an in-ground basketball hoop?

• First, we’ll measure the basketball hoop frame to get a reliable estimate of the hole we’re digging
• After we measured it, we’ll dig a square hole for which parameters should be given in the instructions, but today we’ll learn what dimensions you can use for any in-ground basketball pole
• Next step leads us to set the ground anchor and preparing the concrete. We’ll pour it around the hole for stability, and we won’t do anything until it dries
• When the concrete is stable, we’re moving to assemble the equipment
• Then we’ll fit the anchor bolts which we plan to use to place the hoop and check if it’s strong enough to bear the load
• We’ll then call some help and put the hoop on anchor bolts (and make sure it’s upright)
• If your rim is fixed to the backboard, then proceed with setting it on the pole and if you need to attach rim to the backboard, do that first
• Make sure it’s safe, straight and sturdy, and you’re ready to rumble

Where to? (install an in-ground basketball hoop)

Before installing this kind of hoop, it’s crucial that you first survey the area and then go to state authorities to collect utility marking. Most States don’t allow holes beyond 3 feet deeper of utility marking.

Then, and this is important, look for a nearly level surface. Commonly speaking, a driveway is probably the best choice. However, if you have a long yard that may work as well. For instance, the Goaliath basketball hoop installation instructions are recommending a backyard for playing area.

Regarding technical details, you should first control for underground pipes. If there are any under the surface your aiming at, you’ll find out calling 811. Next, you should check the playing area surface and if the surface material is for playing good basketball.

While you’re at it, also check out if there’s enough room for movement that basketball requires. Make sure that there are no windows you can break nearby, and if you thought about painting the court check if the surface allows for it.

The ideal weather conditions include daytime temperature around 40 degrees and nighttime temperature around 32 degrees. Check if it’s going to rain and if the temperature will fall below freezing point. If it rained 5 hours before the planned time of installation, don’t start.

If you decide to pour concrete in winter months, there are a few things you will want to remember

• If the ground is frozen, you’ll have to wait until it unfroze before you can even consider beginning. You should NEVER put concrete in the frozen ground since it poses some issues from cracking, crusting, and sinking unevenly.
• Use a fast-setting mixture with hot water. As the name implies, it will usually set in under an hour. When mixing concrete in these weather conditions, regardless of type, use hot water.
• Accelerator is the key here. If you can’t get fast-setting concrete or have already purchased regular, you can buy an accelerator that helps to raise the concrete hydration rate. This serves to shorten the setting time and gets the concrete to a better strength sooner. Do not use any accelerators or additives with calcium chloride as this will lead to the rebar rusting and may could cause the concrete to snap.
• Do not use fast-setting concrete with an accelerator.
• Use curing blankets. They help to trap in the heat and moisture, so the concrete can reach its natural strength. Plus, these tarp-like blankets that come in rolls preserve the concrete from freezing.

What are the required tools & materials?

Along with two capable adults, you’ll need:

• Carpenter’s Level
• 15’ Tape Measure
• Shovel & Post Hole Digger
• Wood Board (scrap)
• Heavy Duty Tape
• Sawhorse or Support Table
• Stepladder 8 ft. (2.4 m)
• Safety Goggles
• Container/Wheelbarrow to Mix – minimum 960 LBS. (436 KG.)
• Optional: Large & Small Adjustable Wrenches
• (2 each) Wrenches and/or Socket Wrenches and Sockets (we recommend Deep-Well Sockets).

The complete in-ground basketball hoop installation process

Groundwork

1. Precisely identify each pole section and mark 5” (13 cm) from top of middle pole section and top of bottom pole section ends with tape or marker. Check if the ground is level with the playing surface, then start digging the hole. As we mentioned earlier, we recently wrote an article that included detailed instructions for digging the hole.

2. Insert the bottom pole section into a ground sleeve. Assemble clamps around bottom pole and ground sleeve. Fill hole roughly 3/4 full with concrete. Tamp down concrete to free air pockets. The first few steps are critical so be careful.

3. Insert ground sleeve and bottom pole into the hole. Fill the hole with concrete. Tamp down concrete to free pockets and make drainage hill up to the line on the ground sleeve. Center and level ground sleeve assembly in the hole.

If you don’t know how to set ground sleeve properly, here’s how to install it in four easy steps.

4. Using a standard level, ensure the pole and ground sleeve is completely vertical in the concrete. Using wood, clamps or other means, brace the assembly during the curing process of the concrete. Check to level on all sides several times while concrete is curing.

Hoop Assembly

1. After concrete dries, remove clamp assembly and lift bottom pole section from the ground sleeve. Bounce top pole and middle pole together until the top pole moves to the previously taped reference mark on the middle pole. When properly assembled there should be 5” (13 cm) of overlap.

2. Add bottom pole to assembly. Bounce pole sections together three times, rotate 90° and repeat rotation bounce procedure. Continue this step until the middle pole moves to the previously taped reference mark on the bottom pole. When properly assembled there should be 5” (13 cm) of overlap.

3. Assemble rebar centering clips near top and bottom of rebar. Completely seal hole at the bottom of the bottom pole with heavy-duty tape to retain rebar and concrete inside. Mix concrete (around 100 lbs. (45.4 kg)) and fill pole 1” – 2” (2.54 – 5.0 cm) below bottom elevator hole on top pole section.

4. Bend back exposed top flange sections of the secured ground sleeve. After the concrete has cured, remove the tape, install pole cap and clamp cover, fit pole assembly into the sleeve. Mark a line with tape or marker 16”(40.5cm) from the bottom of pole assembly.

5. Fit pole assembly into grounds, ensuring a full 16” (40.5cm) engagement. Secure clamps around pole section. Refer to Step 4. Tighten completely to bolt down basketball hoop. Lower clamp covers over clamps and snaps into proper position.

NOTE: Pole may be generously lubricated for ease of assembly. I know for sure that it is on models like Spalding 54 Acrylic Inground and Spalding 88454g. And I think that it’s the same with Lifetime 54 In Ground Basketball System, so there’s a high possibility that your pole also may be lubricated.

6. Beginning with top hole in left and right screw jack support plates, install elevator tubes to the pole as shown. Then secure lower holes in support plates to the pole. Attach height decal on screw jack. Align the lower edge of the decal with screw jack bottom.

7. Place cover over screw jack. Center screw jack between support plates and secure. Secure upper elevator tubes to pole assembly. Insert spacer through top holes of height indicator cover and screw jack assembly as shown. Align spacer and screw jack assembly between elevator tubes and secure.

8. Assemble backboard brackets using bolts, and nuts. Attach elevator tubes to backboard using spacers, bolts, washers, and nuts. Insert T-bolt into bracket then, attach that assembly to the board using bolts and nuts.

9. Attach the rim to the backboard. Fit rim securely into the bracket. Allow T-bolt to slip through the center hole in the rim. Then install reinforcement bracket onto T-bolt and spring onto T-bolt. Install special nut and washer onto T-bolt and tighten the nut until flush with the end of T-bolt.

10. Install net and finish up! Rotate crank handle to adjust backboard. View label to determine approximate backboard height. Enjoy playing time.

Should you hire a professional to install your home basketball hoop?

A new in-ground basketball hoop is not only aesthetically a great addition to a modern suburban home, but also an investment like any other housework. Done right, it can become an essential part of your home.

Now, two days are all it takes to install this kind of hoop at your driveway:
Day 1: Preparing the anchor, and installing it on grass, asphalt or cement.
Day 2: Installing the pole and backboard on the anchor. That’s it.

It’s reasonable to think that it’s easier if someone comes and installs it for you. But before calling a service, be sure to think about these few things and then decide for yourself.

If you’re not so handy with tools, but you would like to become, this is the perfect chance for it. This job isn’t too easy nor too hard, and it’s doable in two to three days tops. If you don’t have two days of your life to learn a new skill (which you’ll need), you’re not living.

Also this way you can include some family bonding and hang with your boy or girl. Make the job more fun. You can even make this a weekly project if you like.

Take it easy. The outdoors work is soul-healing, trust me on this. Plus the feeling you get when you actually make something real by yourself in these times of iPhones and iPads.

If you’re worried about not owning the right tools, don’t, you get the most of the material with the hoop, and there’s barely a few tools needed. Get them for this task, and I’m sure you’ll use all of them for something else later.

And finally, the cost of in-ground basketball hoop installation (Pro Dunk, Huffy, etc.) is too damn high after you’ve already bought the hoop!

Do you need to fill a basketball pole with concrete?

When the engineers built Hoover Dam, they put cooling pipes through it because of the heat buildup. After that section was set, they tapped the pipe full of concrete and sealed it so sure it will lock up.

For a pole to bend, a wall has to collapse a fraction to full collapse. Full of concrete, that action is curtailed.

So let’s say you bought a Spalding 60″ hoop, dug a hole, mixed and poured the concrete, and set the footings for the pole. And since you’ve heard from friends that they poured cement in the pole once they attached it, you have two questions:

a) Does it make more sturdy, less shaking when we do that?
b) How much of a work is it to do? Primarily, is it worth it?

Now to get a few things off my mind. No, you don’t ”need” to fill a basketball pole with concrete, but it will be stiffer, and your whole backboard and pole won’t shake terribly every time you shoot.

The concrete hardens the pole to smooth out the vibrations that can occur when the basketball hits the rim. Also, a lot of the basketball poles are multiple sections, so the concrete helps it act like one formation instead of 3 pieces of the pole.

It’s what I had growing up, and everyone choosed to play in my slanted backyard instead of the flat driveway ones because my hoop didn’t shake at all. Much more like playing on an indoor hoop.

My suggestion would be to fill the pole with concrete definitely. It’s a PITA, and you’ll need to do it a bit at a time, but it is what’s right. Also, don’t skip the rebar. That’s important.

How to fill the pole with concrete?

Mix the concrete a bit wetter; the wetter the concrete, the less strength the pole has. Pour in the concrete and then get a piece of rebar to dive down into the wet concrete over and over to allow the concrete to settle.

Do this frequently after putting in say half a 5-gallon bucket of concrete. It is essential that you don’t have any voids in the concrete. I would also put one #4 rebar in the center of the pipe before you start filling the pipe. Try to keep the rebar gathered in the pipe as you fill with concrete.

Oh, and don’t save on the pole overlap if it’s a two-piece, and that goes double if it’s a three piece. Use a little vaseline and hammer that shit in there.

What type/how much of concrete to use when installing an in-ground basketball hoop? How to do it?

If you want your in-ground basketball hoop to be long-lasting, the foundation is the key. Achieve the right mixture of concrete and water, and it will give your hoop additional years of life.

A mixture that is too thin won’t be able to hold the basketball pole in place properly. A mix that is too thick will leave you trying to fill voids that can’t be seen. So how do you reach the perfect balance? Let’s see!

What do we recommend?

Improve Hoops recommends buying 11-12 bags of Quikrete concrete mix. This concrete meets the ASTM C387 Standard Specs for concrete. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to have a bit more bags on hand in the event the installation becomes a little messy.

How to mix concrete?

Making concrete footing can get dirty if you haven’t done it before, but we tried to explain how to do it as smooth as possible here. If you’ve done it before, read on.

Basketball hoop assembly mistakes, problems & faq (Lifetime, Spalding, Goaliath, etc.)

There are a few standard mistakes people make during installation, and it would be best to avoid them.

The first mistake is not ensuring that a basketball pole is level and vertical. Please accurately brace the pole before putting the cement when you’re starting to pour the concrete. And also continuously check the pole with a plumb line or level.

The second most common mistake is not installing a ground pole sleeve. A quality hoop can cost a lot of money, so if you want to move it sometime, you should ensure that you can easily do it. So before installing the pole, install the sleeve. This will also make the complete in-ground hoop installation way easier.

What to do if the poles are not budging?
When this happened to us, we just kept beating the two poles together on top of a 1”-long piece of plywood. After we lubricated it (I used WD-40 Silicone, and it was helpful) to facilitate the aligning, it took us around 25 minutes of hard hammering. A lot of sweat, but we finally got it.

FAQ

Can you bolt the in-ground to your driveway instead of pouring concrete?
If you have a hoop with backboard wider than 50” than it’s a big and heavy backboard. It needs the cement, and a lot of it, to act as a counterweight and keep all parts stable. Trying to bolt this to the ground would be terrible. The long bolts need to be set in concrete to prevent the backboard from wobbling or worse tipping over onto something or someone.

What are the hole dimensions that you have to dig for the 72″ system?
Dig a 30″-deep 1′ x 1′ square hole.

Final thoughts

The process of installing a basketball hoop may be simple, but it doesn’t mean it’s simple to do it. This kind of a job requires patience and will. We hope that we made it somehow simpler than you thought it would be. If you’re still not sure if you’ll be able to do it, don’t give up on the basketball hoop.

You have two more options; to call an installation service to do it, or to get a portable basketball hoop instead. If you’re short on cash and don’t want to spend all the money on in-ground hoop + installation, we recommend going with the latter solution. If in doubt, read our complete report on the best portable basketball hoops on the market and decide for yourself.

Nevertheless, sniff around a bit on Improve Hoops and stay tuned, we’ve got good things coming. Thank you.

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