It’s pretty undeniable that there are a lot of decisions to be made when you observe all of the hundreds of basketball hoops for sale. Should you get a portable unit or in ground? Should you get a system with a square pole or round? How big should it be?
But one of the most important decisions is what the basketball backboard material. The four backboard materials offered are molded plastic, acrylic, polycarbonate, and glass. So what is the difference between them, and how do you know which one you should get?
This is the cheapest basketball backboard, and you typically see it on the least expensive systems. If you are an adult player who is interested in playing a good game of basketball, you should generally stay away from this material. It vibrates a lot and the fairly soft plastic simply absorbs the force of the basketball when you throw bank shots. That means that instead of getting a good rebound, it kind of just drops down. If, however, you are buying for a kid, this material is fine, as they aren’t typically concerned with having high quality rebound anyway.
A step up from molded plastic is the acrylic basketball backboard. It works a little bit better because it can be translucent, like pro systems, and acrylic is a bit more a rigid material. That favors you in two big ways. Firstly, it means that you can do bank shots without worrying about the ball dropping straight down quite so much. And secondly, it makes that it is more durable, which means it can take a whole heck lot more abuse without cracking.
Polycarbonate looks like acrylic, feels like acrylic, and plays like acrylic. So what’s the difference? The difference is in the over durability of the material, which is especially important in mid range basketball hoops where the backboards are relatively thin (about two to three eights of an inch). If you expect to be playing particularly roughly on your basketball hoop, or even if you want an extra level of assurance that your hoop is going to last a very long time, polycarbonate is definitely the way to go.
Glass is the material that they use in NBA, college, and even the large majority of high school courts. The reason why it is still so popular is because it is the most rigid material of all, and therefore offers the most rebound.
Buyers should be aware, however, that systems with this level of quality are usually pricier than acrylic or polycarbonate basketball hoops, usually costing at least eight hundred dollars and often more. However, in terms of play, there is just no comparison for the rigidity and rebound of a real glass basketball hoop.