Portable basketball systems are convenient and relatively inexpensive, so you set up one in your driveway or backyard for a fun game of hoops just about any time. Because they are portable, these systems are not heavy and require either water or sand to weigh them down. Manufacturers provide guidelines on how to use either substance, but they strongly recommend sand over water.
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The substance you use to fill your basketball base will depend on a number of factors, including convenience. Water is readily available at most homes, so you can grab your garden hose and stick it in the base to fill it up. Sand is not likely as accessible, so unless you live in a sandy region, you will need to go to a home improvement or landscape retail store. You can buy sand in bags or in bulk.
Manufacturers recommend filling your portable basketball base with sand for safety reasons. Portable hoops are unsteady and can fall over fairly easily. If you fill the base with water and the base cracks, the water could leak out unnoticed, and the unit could fall over, possibly causing injury. Water is a fluid substance and will move and flow around in the base. Sand is denser and heavier, and Basketballhoopbuyingguide.com notes that filling the base with sand creates a much more stable pole and backboard.
Water freezes in cold regions. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing, the water in the base will freeze and expand, possibly cracking the base. You can avoid this issue by adding a small amount of antifreeze to the base when you add water. After you fill the base with water, you also need to add a tablespoon of chlorine bleach to prevent algae formation. If you plan on moving the basketball hoop often, water is much easier to empty and refill than sand.
Filling the base with water is significantly easier than filling it with sand. For sand, you need to place a large funnel in the fill hole and carefully pour each bag of sand through the funnel. Keep in mind that sand bags are relatively heavy, weighing between 18 and 50 lbs., and you will need several bags to fill the base. A bag of play sand retails for around $3, as of January 2011.