When watching the game of basketball, spectators probably don’t give much thought to what type of backboard is being used. The backboard is in fact one of the most important parts of a basketball system. Though glass backboards have long been thought of as the best backboards, acrylic backboards have many of the same features.
If you are several feet away and look at a backboard you may not be able to tell the difference between an acrylic one and a glass one. They are both clear, they both come in the same sizes, and they both have the outline markings and shooter’s square. When you throw the ball and go for a rebound, that is were the difference comes into view.
Glass backboards are the backboards used by the pros. Professional style backboards are made of ½ inch thick tempered glass. The outline of the backboard and the shooter’s square are fired into the glass so they won’t wear away. A regulation size backboard is 42″ x 72″, but glass backboards come in many different sizes. They are dent and scratch resistant and won’t get dusty.
What is so great about glass? The main reason why professionals love glass is because of the way the ball interacts with the glass. Rebounds bounce off immediately and crisply. There is virtually no reverberation with glass. Glass will not dent so there are no worries about the ball hitting a dent or groove. Players know exactly what to expect with a glass backboard.
One of the only drawbacks of a glass backboard is the possibility of breakage. Though shattering a backboard is not the goal of a slam dunk, it is possible with enough force to shatter a glass backboard. With breakaway goals the likelihood is less, but still possible. There are certain types of glass backboards available that are guaranteed not to shatter. The risk of shattering, however, does not compare to the excellent ball interaction.
Fairly recently, acrylic backboards have come into play. Backboard that are made of cast acrylic are very similar to glass backboards– but more economical. Cast acrylic is one of the strongest forms of acrylic manufactured today. It is virtually dent resistant. Most acrylic backboards come with steel frames for even more stability. This frame is very important for proper ball interaction.
To get a similar feel as a glass backboard, look for an acrylic backboard that is ½ inch thick. If the acrylic is too thick the ball will not respond the same way. Though acrylic backboards are more economical, they will have to be replaced sooner than a glass backboard would. They are also more difficult to keep clean since dirt can get into the grooves.
If you are on a budget an acrylic backboard will definitely get the job done. It has good ball interaction and is durable and sturdy. But, if you are looking for longer durability and more consistency, a glass backboard is the way to go.