Unlike in ground goals, portable basketball hoops need to be weighed down by a large base. And the bigger and heavier the pole and backboard, the bigger and heavier the base needs to be. You have two options to fill up your basketball base: sand or water.
So what makes one better than the other?
Water is very cheap and easy to get. Weighing down your basketball hoop is as simple as sticking your garden hose in the fill hole and letting it run until its full. No dirt, no fuss. Plus, if you ever want to empty out your basketball base, it’s relatively easy to drain it. This makes it perfect for the casual basketball player who wants a hassle free way to start playing ball.
Water doesn’t weigh as much as a sand. So consequently, the entire hoop won’t be as stable as one that is held steady with sand.
If you happen to live in a part of the country that regularly gets below zero, a water filled base might give you some problems. When the water freezes, it will expand, possibly causing your base to break. When the air thaws, the water will drain out the crack and you will be left with a broken base. However, this problem can be avoided if you simply
Sand weighs a lot more than water, so you can be sure that you are going to get a good, strong base. That will mean less vibration on the backboard and more solid rebounds. While dunking isn’t generally recommended on portable systems, a system that is weighed down by sand will be less likely to tip over if you get carried away and can’t help but slam the ball.
Also, since it won’t expand in cold weather, you don’t risk your basketball base breaking once the temperature drops below freezing.
Sand is, after all, dirt. So it it’s messy and time consuming to fill it in. On top of that, it is a little more difficult to acquire “clean” sand (sand without any sticks or other fillers in it) than water. If you go this route you may have to check at your local hardware store, which may sell “play sand” by the bag.
Sand is also much more difficult to get out of the base once it is in. So unless you want to grab a spade and dig the sand out the base by hand, filling it with sand is a permanent solution.
So Which One Should You Choose?
It honestly depends upon your needs. If you mostly care about convenience and handle the freezing issue appropriately, then water will be your best bet. However, if want to get your portable basketball hoop as stable as it can possibly be, then sand will be your best choice.