Installing a Used In-Ground Basketball System

Bought a used basketball hoop on a metal pole for 25 bucks. Looks like it’s in pretty decent shape, and it’s for my 11 year old son whose interest in sports is pretty flighty, so I’m not too concerned about longevity or amazing quality. I would, however, like to install it correctly.

I’ve checked online and found varying reports of the correct way to do this, and my father-in-law, who will be assisting me, has his own ideas (see below), therefore I come to you with the following observations and questions:

The diameter of the pole is 3.5". It already has concrete in the bottom of it from the old installation. Should I knock that out, or does it make sense to leave it in? How big a hole should I dig? I’ve seen from 1’x1’ wide x2’ deep all the way up to 2’x2’x4’ deep, with the most common instruction being 2x2x2 (would like to keep the amount of concrete I have to mix to a minimum).

My FIL seems to think it would be a good idea to use a PVC pipe, so that the pole can be easily (?) dropped in, but this sounds iffy to me. Would a PVC pipe with a nominal diameter of 3.5" fit around the pole, or would I have to go with something larger? (and if I go larger, then the pole won’t be stable or level unless I pack around the extra space) There doesn’t seem to be any way to test the fit unless I buy the pipe. Not sure if the idea is to set the pole in the pvc in the concrete all at the same time, or just set the pvc, then insert the pole, but either way it just doesn’t sound right to me.

Most of the instructions online just say to put the pole in the wet concrete, level it a few times an hour until the concrete sets. This also sounds weird to me, because it seems like it would be very hard to keep a pole standing upright enough in wet concrete to keep it level. Especially since part of the hoop assembly is still attached to the top of it, so it’s not perfectly balanced.

Any insight on this would be appreciated, and if the mods would like to move this to the Game Room or anywhere else, have at it–it’s the weekend and I’ll be lucky to get any kind of a response here.

I think the PVC is out because you will never clean that old cement off the pipe clean enough for a good fit.

The height is going to depend upon the length of the pole. You need enough pole sticking out for the right basket height. You should be able to see from the residue left on the pole where it has to go as far as depth.

Dig the hole a little extra deep by 6" or so. Add some gravel at the bottom. Level the pole up with 2"X4" braces. Then add the cement. If you level it up right, you don’t need to check anything except vandals before it sets.

When the kid is done with it, cut the pole at ground level and have a beer.

Thanks, Al. The kid could stay at home and play with his basketball hoop 'til he’s ninety for all I care and I would still have a beer. As for the pipe, there’s really no cement encrusted on the pipe per se, just packed into the interior diameter. The question was – do I need to clean that cement out of the center of the pipe? Will I get a better bond if all the cement is fresh in all the places where cement is supposed to go?

And yes, I can see the residue, or change in coloration where the pole was buried before, so maybe that question was premature, but I still wonder about the width of the hole. and I’m not sure how to do the 2x4 bracing. Any examples online? Just did a quick check and couldn’t come up with much.

i’ve seen clothes lines anchored 18 to 24 inches. i would guess a hoop would need to be deeper.

concrete in the interior of the pipe should be OK. frost depth (to not have frozen ground move it) for structures is 4 feet. having a hold 3 feet or better might be OK for a hoop.

if you had it in a pipe for it to fit in then you would need to make drainage for that (3 to 4 ft. deep hole with gravel in the bottom, open to the earth). it would be work to do that and be stable.

you put the pipe in the center, fill with concrete. use boards at an angle as braces, or tie rope guys to keep it vertical while curing.

How tall/long is the pole?

A couple of suggestions:

Consider removing the backboard before installing the pole. This will make it much easier to work with, and you won’t have to be so finicky (yet) about the height of the rim.

However deep you dig, put 6 inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole before plopping the pole in there; this will facilitate drainage.

The pole is 12 feet and some odd inches (1-2). The backboard has already been removed (had to get it in the car somehow), but there is still a scissor-like mounting mechanism on the thing. Hell, take a look at it here. I don’t really care about the height of the rim because Simmerson is only 11 and not a fanatic about basketball, just mildly interested, so regulation height is not really a concern. Question about hole width remains.

If the bottom pole was not broken off at grade, but was pulled out of a sleeve set in concrete, you could buy another sleeve and mount that in concrete.

I have installed the a similar basketball post 2x, replacing the pole after it was hit by a truck and crimped. You dig a hole of some recommended size, fill with concrete, place a piece of re-bar in the center, put the bottom pole over the re-bar, sinking it into the concrete so it sticks out just the right amount (which you have marked). Then you fill the pole with cement and brace it and let everything set up before mounting the upper pole with the backboard etc.

If your post is 3.5" and will fit the sleeve, the length of the sleeve gives you a rough idea of the depth of the hole needed. Installation manuals for a new post system similar to what you have would also be a good resource.

you’ll need some good temporary bracing. Especially since the hoop is attached. It’ll be top heavy.

something like this. Except you can’t nail to your metal pole. You’ll need to clamp a wood block to the pole to brace against.

A regulation basketball hoop is exactly 10’ off the ground, IIRC. So the real question isn’t exactly how long is the pole. You need to project a line parallel to the pole, beginning at the hoop. Whatever of the pole is left over once you get to ten feet along from the hoop, is the part that needs to go underground. This might vary a bit, for instance, if your “court” is the driveway and you want to plant the pole in the dirt next to it, and the ground is a couple of inches higher or lower than the pavement.

Of course, nobody’s gonna come along and declare you have a non-regulation court anyway, but if you want a pretty good approximation of a real world hoop, that’s your starting point.

This is the method that I use and recommend. (For the record, I am a Commercial carpenter/General Contractor w/ 30+ years of experience.)

Dig a hole 16" x 16" x the amount that was in the ground previously. (And no, there is no need to remove the hardened concrete from inside the pole.)
Dig your initial hole with a pair of post hole diggers, then use a “sharpshooter” style shovel to enlarge the hole. If the ground in your area is pretty hard packed, then 16" x 16" square should be more than sufficient.
(Softer ground or a taller pole will necessitate a larger footing. Regardless, you want to try and maintain the original compaction of the soil where you’ll be placing it.)
In the middle of ***that ***hole, place a piece of 6" PVC pipe (I would go with Schedule 40, but a thinner wall pipe will also work just fine.) The PVC pipe needs to be pretty plumb (straight, up and down) and flush with the top of your finished concrete.
You can leave the PVC pipe a little (2"-3") long, place a piece of 2x4 across it and drive it down with a sledgehammer to the proper level. This will prevent the PVC pipe from moving around and trying to “float” out of the footing, as you pour in the concrete.

The way we’ve always done it is…Pour in about a foot of Sackrete and about a liter of water, then mix with a piece of rebar. (Basically, just jab the rebar up and down, and all around untill it gets to a fairly consistent state of mix.)
Doing it like this, also removes any air bubbles in the concrete and prevents “honeycombing”, a cause of weakness and source of cracking. Repeat the process till you get to the top.
(Top meaning, slightly [1-1/2"-2"] below ground level, that way you won’t risk hitting it with the lawn mower, among other reasons.)

While you’re doing the pouring and mixing, occasionally check that the PVC pipe is still plumb.

Day 2
For this stage, you’ll need a little help, and a few things gathered up and prepared beforehand. You’ll need a level of course, (which you should already have, from the day before.;)) one bag of “fine” sand, (the finest grade that your local home depot, lowe’s etc. has, will do nicely) and last, but not least, three wooden wedges. :confused:

Place the goal pole (Dang, I’m a poet and didn’t knowet! :rolleyes:) into the (approx.) center of the PVC pipe that is now firmly anchored in place. Drive the wedges in good and tight, equidistant around the pipe. (maintaining an equal “gap” all the way around.) Check it, for plumb.

Check it, for plumb. If it’s not “plumb”, gently rock it a little in the direction it needs to go, till it is. Pour the sand in, while wetting it down thoroughly. Check it, for plumb! A little sand, a little water, (till it’s damp) then pack it down. (with a 1"x2" that’s flat on the end) Repeat (Don’t forget to, Check it, for plumb!) until the hole is full. Trim the wedges off flush with the top of the PVC pipe. (A handsaw works fairly well, for this.)

Pat each other on the back for a job well done, and go have that beer!:smiley:

The aforementioned method works very well, for a number of different reasons.

  1. If the “goal pole” gets bent somehow (Trust me, it does happen.:smack:), you can “worry” the wedges out, remove as much sand as you can and then remove and replace/repair the pole.
  2. If/when you decide to remove it all together, once you’ve filled the hole in completely and the grass grows back, you’ll never even know it was there.
    (Hence the part about keeping the concrete, slightly below ground level.)

To some, this method may not sound like it is very “robust”. I know for a fact, that it IS.
(Having installed numerous (15+) basketball goal posts and a half dozen 40’-60’ flag poles, with this same method. Some of which, are still standing and in use. The ones that aren’t still standing, were deliberately taken down. ;))

Thanks, everyone, the job is done (except for the backboard). JBDivmstr, had we not finished yesterday afternoon I would have gone with your method.

Here’s what I ended up doing: Dug a hole approximately 18 x 18 by roughly 22 inches deep. Wanted to dig deeper, but the ground was extremely rocky and it was 90˚ with no shade, and it looked like the pole had previously been buried about 18", so we took a chance at this being enough. Covered the bottom with gravel, enough to make the hole now 18" deep. Before lifting the pole into place we mixed some concrete in couple of 5 gallon buckets, probably filling each about halfway. Lifted the pole into place.

FIL had already taped some steel bars to the pole so we’d have something to brace against. While he held the post, I poured in the concrete and mixed some more. Kept on mixing and pouring until we filled the hole (4 80lb bags). Next time I’ll get a wheelbarrow. The buckets worked fine, but it probably would have been easier with the wheelbarrow.

I know frost may be an issue, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. All-in-all not an expensive project. I must point out that Simmerson (age 11) was a huge help. Helped dig the hole, helped scoop and mix the concrete, helped haul the dirt from the hole, all without being told. Amazing to see.

Sounds like y’all did a fine job, from your description. :slight_smile: The only other advice I can add is, you might drill a small (1/4"-3/8") hole close to the bottom so that water can seep out.
And thanks for the acknowledgement, I appreciate it. Sorry I didn’t get it posted sooner. :cool:

This confuses me. Where, exactly should I drill the hole? The concrete is now basically an 18" cube, and buried in the ground. Should I dig another hole to reach the bottom of the cube, then drill into the side? The new hole would have to be wide enough to accomodate a drill. Perhaps I misunderstood?

that would be in the side of the pole near ground level to let water that gets inside drain out.


Try to keep it close to regulation, lest your kid’s muscle memory forever fail him on a real court. :wink: I grew up with on house that had a hoop install on the slanted roof about the garage. Hoop was properly 11 feet off the ground, and the driveway sloped moderately to the street. I was pretty decent at shooting in the driveway, but pretty lousy on the court at school.

I get this, but my hope is that if he actually does develop more than a casual interest in the game, he will seek out many different playing situations/venues. Having said that, the backboard height is adjustable, so we can make it a bit lower to start with, so that he can have some immediate success, then raise it when it gets too easy.

This is a strategy born of wisdom. Speaking from experience, too many parents hinder development by trying to, pardon the hyperbole, blackjack younger children into training on a regulation hoop well before they’re capable of doing so. Bad habits are easily developed when the product known as performance comes at the price of excessive physical exertion. Children need to develop along with the basket. Good fundamental focus now is most important. Bravo to you sir, for accomodating this!

I see that johnpost beat me on the draw. :wink:
Boy howdy, them brainfarts sure do* smell*, don’t they?:smiley: