Specifications for Basketball Goals

By Cynthia Ruscitto

Shooting hoops is a favorite American pastime. A drive by city playgrounds, suburban homes and rural farms will reveal basketball goals constructed of a variety of different materials. Though sufficient for recreational play, many of them fail to meet the specifications required for use in formal league competitions. Basketball goal specifications were created to maintain the uniformity necessary for competitive play and, more importantly, to keep players safe.

Basketball Goal Anatomy

The basketball goal consists of the net and ring, collectively known as the basket, the backboard to which the basket is attached, support structures for the backboard and safety padding. The following specifications are those mandated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Net

The net of the basket is constructed from a white, corded mesh material. The number of threads making up each cord must range between 120 and 144. Nets made of plastic are acceptable as long as they possess dimensions comparable to those made from twine. The standard net has 12 loops used to suspend the net under the ring. It must measure 15 to 18 inches in length. Nets are constructed in a way meant to momentarily delay the basketball as it passes through.

The Ring

The basketball net is attached to fine gauge metal loops on a ring measuring 18 inches in diameter. The ring is made of metal, has a thickness of 5/8 inch and is bright orange. The upper edge of the ring must be positioned 10 feet above the court and parallel to the floor and centered on the bottom edge of the backboard. A distance of 6 inches must exist between the backboard and the inside edge of the back of the ring. Rings must also bend ("break away") on a hinge under the undue stress that may occur when a player dunks the ball.

The Backboard

The backboard is a smooth-surfaced, rigid structure that supports the basket. Competitive backboards are constructed of transparent materials, such as tempered glass, and measure 6 feet wide and 3.5 to 4 feet high. Two-inch white lines surround the face's perimeter and mark a 24-inch wide by 18-inch high rectangle behind the ring. The top edge of the base of this rectangle is level with the top of the ring. A backboard is padded in a single color along the lower edge and to a height of 15 inches on each side.

Support Structure

The support structure is what holds up the backboard. For the safety of the players, support structures must be located at specific distances from the backboard. The clearance is determined by the location of the support structure. Supports below or behind the board are required to be at least 8 feet behind the backboard and 7 feet above the floor. Supports that extend above the top and beyond the sides of the backboard should clear it by 6 inches and 2 feet, respectively. Padding to a height of 9 feet is required for support structures within 2 feet of the plane of the backboard.

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