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What Causes Dead Spots on a Hardwood Basketball Court?

By Steve Silverman

Hardwood basketball courts may look shiny and perfect, but they're usually not. Today's hardwood surfaces are pieced together and locked into place. As a result, most courts will have any uneven areas and spots that will be "dead" when the ball bounces.

Significance

When a court is pieced together at a school or university gymnasium, air can get trapped between the slats or underneath them. This uneven surface creates a dead spot, which affects the bounce and dribble of a ball.

Time Frame

It takes as little as two hours to take down a full-size basketball court. Many courts for professional teams are assembled and broken down two or three times a week, because basketball teams often share the arena with a hockey team, or another event. The constant dismantling and assembling gradually erodes the integrity and fit of the pieces throughout a season, creating more dead spots on the court.

Size

The average basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is 6 feet 6 inches and weighs 230 pounds. There are 10 players on the court, plus officials. A full-size court, which NBA rules stipulate measures 94-by-50 feet, takes a pounding during a regulation 48 minute game. Dead spots can pop up as a game progresses.

Effects

In some cases, the home team will have an advantage over its competition because its players know where all the dead spots are and the visitor doesn't. This has been a big advantage for teams like the Boston Celtics, because the players know exactly where all the dead spots are on the arena's famous parquet floor.

Prevention/Solution

The best way to avoid dead spots that lead to poor and inconsistent bounces is to play in gyms or arenas that are dedicated to basketball only. Anytime a court must be taken down and then rebuilt ---much like a jigsaw puzzle---there will be dead spots.

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