Optimize Design For Clear Heights

Most competition gymnasiums are designed with clear height in mind.  (Clear height: the distance from the finished floor to the lowest-hanging overhead obstruction.)  Clear height is especially important for competition basketball and volleyball, as certain sport governing bodies set forth clear height rules for competition play.  Even when rules are not applicable, it is important to design a functional space for sports to take place.  Sports such as competitive cheerleading should be given practical consideration when designing for appropriate gym clear height.  An optimized gymnasium space creates opportunities to host tournaments and post-season events.  And who doesn’t like home-court advantage?

Overhead gym equipment is sometimes one of the latter items considered during the architectural design process.  As a result, we are frequently asked how tight our equipment will fold to the ceiling. Our equipment does have limitations, and as a result we have created a very general diagram to help assist in development of gymnasium clear height.  Keep these limitations in mind when designing for appropriate clear height.


Because most overhead gymnasium equipment is custom engineered, actual clearances may vary based on project conditions.  We always recommend referring with your local athletic facility representative if you are unsure of a particular condition.

For a listing of some common clear height sport rules, reference this sheet here.  Rules at the state or regional level may vary.

Bent Mast Backstop 2

Ceiling suspended backstops with bent masts offer up less clear height room than backstops with straight masts, but their offset folding footprint can be advantageous.  In this gymnasium, these bent mast backstops fold forward without protruding into the main volleyball court space.  This would not be the case if a backstop with a straight mast had been used.  The lowest hanging obstruction over the volleyball court is instead the bottom-roll divider curtain shown running left-to-right.       

Gym equipment manufacturers offer several equipment configurations to meet the needs of your facility.  Sometimes, equipment can even be laid out so that it does not fold over the competition court areas.  Your local athletic facility specialist can help guide this process and make recommendations.

Side Fold Backstops

Ceiling suspended backstops that fold sideways may offer less clear height room, but they may also eliminate folding interference over the competition court. 

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