Now that you've had some time to assemble that new Lifetime Portable Basketball System you got for Christmas, let's cover a few important things that every basketball hoop owner should know. (Yes, that means this is important for you to read even if you aren't a brand new basketball hoop owner.)
Portable basketball systems are convenient. You can purchase a Lifetime Basketball System and be playing basketball the same day. However, when you assemble a portable basketball system, it is important to always follow the manufacturer's instructions very carefully. And, that means right down to the final instruction about filling your portable base. I have seen lots of systems with weights, bags of cement, or bricks on top of the base to hold it down - like in these pictures. This is a big "no-no" and very dangerous. We rigorously test our basketball systems and write our specific instructions for a reason. Most websites will state that portable systems aren’t very heavy, and they usually aren’t. But not filling the base up properly can cause your system to tip over and get damaged, and possibly cause severe injuries.
Our instructions (which are all available on our website if you lost yours) indicate that there are two ways that you can fill a base - with water or sand. (Be sure to read your specific model instructions to learn how much to use of either option.) Obviously, water is significantly easier and cheaper than filling it with sand, but this is not my professional recommendation. Remember water can freeze, and if you live in a cold region the water may possibly crack your base. (Although, Lifetime bases are made out of high-density polyethylene plastic that is flexible enough to expand with the water when it freezes.) Another concern I have with water is if your base gets a small leak, the water could leak out unnoticed and the unit could fall over possibly breaking your system, or worse, causing injury.
Therefore, I recommend (and we recommend in our instructions) to use sand. Sand is denser and heavier, and filling the base with sand creates a much more stable pole and backboard. Some of you may be concerned that using sand makes the system extremely heavy to move. You are right, it does. Your child certainly will not be able to move this system and it will be difficult even for a strong adult. But, you will be surprised to learn that the majority of people I speak with who have a portable system really don’t move it that often. So, it is worth the extra stability and safety precautions to fill with sand.
So, if you fill the base, what happens if you are moving and want to take your hoop with you or you simply want to sell it? I'll be honest, emptying a base is very difficult. It can be done but I would say once you fill the base with sand, don’t plan on emptying it unless you absolutely have to. Even when filling the base with water, it is very hard to get all the water out of the base.
Another important thing to keep in mind as a basketball hoop owner is to make sure you have your system on a level and safe surface. While it is tempting to place a basketball system on the sidewalk or end of your driveway to make the street your "court", this is very unsafe for both players and drivers.
Finally, since it is winter right now, whether you are a new or existing basketball system owner, check out these helpful winter basketball hoop maintenance tips to help keep your system like new in our previous Basketball FAQs During Winter Months blog post.