Choosing Ceiling Suspended Hoops for Competition Basketball

Today’s manufacturers offer a number of basketball backstop styles to choose from.  Styles range from the portable hoops frequently seen in larger arenas and gyms, to compact wall mounted units used for shooting stations and play in smaller gym spaces.  The majority of competition gyms built for the K-12 school market today feature ceiling suspended basketball backstops on the main competition court.  Portable backstops often take up too much space in K-12 school gyms, and wall mounted backstops may not always provide the function, fit, and feel necessary for competition.  With ceiling suspended backstops being the primary style choice for K-12 competition gymnasiums, we have outlined a few requirements and recommendations for choosing a ceiling suspended backstop that is ideal for competition play.  Read on to learn why the front braced, forward folding backstop with “bent” mast is generally our #1 recommendation for competition play, and why backstop design is so critical when it comes to competition use.


Save Some Space:

Traditional ceiling suspended backstops designed for competition have long featured a rear telescoping or sliding brace with a cable oriented in the forward position so that the backstop could fold forward.  While this design has proven sufficient for competition over the years, newer designs now offer school facilities with more flexibility and cost savings.

 917 backstop.JPG
A traditional forward folding backstop with rear brace occupies a lot of space and can prove more costly than other options.

Rather than selecting a traditional competition backstop with rear brace and forward folding motion, we often recommend a forward folding backstop with a “bent” mast and front-facing brace.  Download the design here.  The “bent” mast design of this unit helps the backstop lock rigidly into the down position (we’ll discuss this more later on).  The design of this unit also takes up a lesser amount of space overhead than units which feature a rear spanning brace and a forward spanning cable.  Lesser space requirements translate into less suspension structure required, which in turn also leads to overall cost savings!  This is one reason why the front braced, forward folding backstop with bent mast is generally our #1 recommendation for competition courts.  Continue reading on to learn more about this backstop and other viable ceiling suspended options for competition.

 950 backstop
A forward folding, front braced unit with bent mast is often our #1 recommended hoop style for competition courts. 


Win with Rigidity:

A rigid backstop is a safe backstop, and it is also a backstop that provides a feel and experience for players that will elevate their game.  We have all seen a hoop that rattles or shakes considerably during our time on the court.  It just feels wrong, and sometimes it feels dangerous too.

There are a number of steps to take that will guarantee better backstop rigidity.  Rigidity often starts with the building structure that supports the hoop.  Minimizing structural deflection is critical whenever possible.  When it comes to backstop design, one of the easiest ways to create better rigidity is to offset the backstop’s center-of-gravity point.  Backstops with “bent” masts have an offset center-of-gravity.  This feature ensures that the backstop locks into the playing position without much mechanical intervention necessary.  This is another reason why we generally recommend the forward folding, front braced backstop with bent mast for competition purposes.  The inclusion of a properly designed diagonal brace will also help the backstop lock rigidly into place.  To learn more about other critical components of backstop design, circle back to this article when you have a chance.


Powr Lok.jpg

 An appropriately designed brace with dual internal springs, as shown above, helps the backstop lock rigidly into the playing position.


Get your Brace Right:

As we just mentioned, all ceiling suspended hoops feature a diagonal brace that helps lock the backstop rigidly into place.  The placement of this brace is critical for competition purposes.  The National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS) provides specific rule language regarding the position of the brace.  The idea is that the brace should not interfere with the player’s shot trajectory nor the rebound of the ball off the rim.  We’ve included a diagram below that shows the area above the goal that must be clear of bracing to meet competition rules.

Competition Requirements- Front Brace.jpg

Many ceiling suspended backstops need to fold forward, and thus those options with a front brace must comply with competition rules.  The forward folding, front braced backstop with bent mast complies with this design rule.  Because this style of backstop features an offset center of gravity that provides optimal rigidity, the brace may be moved higher up on the mast without compromising performance.  For those front braced backstops that do not feature a bent mast, we do not recommend the front brace be slid upward to comply with the rule.  The brace is designed to provide rigidity for competition, so moving it upward completely compromises the design and defeats its main purpose!

Not all ceiling suspended backstops position the brace to the front of the backstop.  Side folding and rear folding backstops are generally not of concern when considering this rule.



Forward folding, front braced backstops with a “bent” mast are the #1 seller when it comes to K-12 competition gyms.  They feature the most rigid design offered on the market and are more space-efficient than those traditional competition units that feature a rear oriented brace and forward fold.

Side folding ceiling suspended units are another great choice for competition.  Just remember to take a look at their folding clearances when giving them consideration (more on that here).  Rear folding units are also a viable option, but more lateral forces from play (dunking, ball impact on the backboard, etc.) want to push the backstop in the direction of the fold.  This backstop must be accurately designed and installed so that the brace keeps it rigidly locked into position.

If you made it through this whole article, you are now an expert on selecting ceiling suspended backstops for competition play!!

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