Architects: when designing your next athletic facility, keep these 5 critical factors in mind.
There are many different models of ceiling suspended backstops that fold and operate in a variety of ways. Some models fold the brace forward, backwards, and to the side. Other models fold forward while a telescoping brace supports it in the back. Other units have a chamber or a bend in the mast. Click here for a guide to view the different models. There are several things to consider which ones work best when designing your gymnasium and building. Consider some of these 5 factors below and consult with your athletic equipment manufacturer for their recommendations early in your project to guarantee the best choice for your facility.
1.) Fit. A rim sits at 10 feet and hinges near the ceiling. If your ceiling is 30 feet tall, then you need about 20 feet of clearance in the direction of the fold. Many buildings don’t have enough room to fold in a particular direction before coming into conflict with a wall, duct, or other interference. Back braced, forward folding units have a footprint behind the backboard for the brace in addition to the folded footprint. The hinge point of a backstop normally sits about 1 foot behind the face of bank on straight mast designs, but consider a chambered mast design to shift the hinge point backwards on a forward folding unit or frontwards on a backward folding unit for a more flexible footprint.
Notice the Side-Folding backstop (upper right-hand corner) does not obstruct the court when volleyball is played. The running track would not allow for a back-folding design.
2.) Court clearances. Different sports and levels of competition require different clearances above the court. Research what is required for the level of activities in your facilities. When folded, most backstops fold within 3 or 4 feet below the ceiling depending on the style you choose. However, side folding backstops retract parallel to the court and the 6 ft wide backboard is on its edge; causing it to be lower than most. An advantage of side-fold design is that it can often be used to avoid folding over a court area all together.
3.) Line of sight. Many facilities have raised spectator area with either bleachers or a second floor viewing area. Keep in mind what the equipment will look like in both the play and storage position to ensure spectators have a clear view of the court, scoreboards, and other items of interest unless you want to offer “obstructed view discount seats”.
4.) Performance. Chambered mast backstops pre-load the brace giving a slightly more stable backstop. It is only one factor in the stability, so don’t let this the deciding factor. Most of the performance characteristic come from properly engineered structure and high quality components.
5.) Price. Many units are similar in price, but a forward folding, back braced unit often costs more due to structure required in front and behind the unit. For buildings with large spans between their supports, choosing a model that fits the structure in one bay can significantly reduce the structure costs.