From apple basket to precise diameter: The size of the basketball hoop

What color do the hoops need to be? How far do they need to be from the backboard? How does the length of the net affect the game? What dimensions are specified in the regulations?

Since James Naismith invented basketball in 1891, the sport’s regulations have been modified many times. Although the target itself has evolved—from the apple basket used for the very first games to a twine net hanging from a metal hoop we use today—but the objective has remained the same: shoot a ball into that basket.

Today, the height and dimensions of the basket are strictly regulated. The upper part of the hoop is positioned 3.05 meters high, with a tolerance of ±6 mm.

The dimensions of the hoop are very clear: It must have an internal diameter of at least 450 mm and at most 459 mm. The hoop must be affixed to a backboard that must be separated from the hoop by a distance of 151 mm. The hoop must be made from a solid piece of material with a diameter of 20 mm and must be painted orange.

Regulation backboards are a rectangular, measuring 1.05 meters high by 1.80 meters wide, with a minimum thickness of 30 mm and with a padded lower edge. A rectangle measuring 0.59 meters wide by 0.45 meters high is painted in the center of the lower portion of the backboard, with the bottom of the rectangle beginning 0.15 meters above than the lower edge of the backboard and the hoop attached to the center of the interior rectangle. The interior rectangle is used by players to gauge their shots, so that if the ball hits the rectangle, it should go in the basket.

A net, which ensures that the ball does not bounce away after a successful shot, is connected to the hoop at 12 points. A regulation net is at least 400 mm and at most 450 mm long.

Of course, there also are specifications for the basketball itself. For men’s leagues, the ball must have a diameter of at least 230 mm and at most 240 mm, and it must weigh between 567 and 650 grams; balls used in women’s competition must have a diameter of at least 220 mm and at most 230 mm, and weigh between 510 and 567 grams.