If there is one tried-and-true remedy to the heat of summer days, that would be a dunk in the pool. Most of us, however, would love to have some fun while we’re at it. Out of the many games available, have you considered… basketball? All you need is, a pair of appropriate hoops!
Water Basketball: It Is, Indeed, A Thing
And it is not a mere pastime; while it is not popular enough to receive media coverage or be played internationally—yet—, this is an actual sport we’re talking about, with its own set of rules. It has been played in the Netherlands since the 1970s, and it has since gained a solid footing in Italy, Australia (Tasmania, more specifically), and other countries.
Although it was derived (and shares a name with) basketball, there are a few core elements that drastically changed when the court is a pool. How do you bounce, how do you dribble? The answer is, you don’t.
The Ins & Outs
The rules will vary between one locale and another—and also between formal and informal games—, but this is, more or less, how it goes:
- Players divide into 2 teams, of 3 to 6 members each. At least one player of each team is reserved as a substitute in case a member of the active team cannot continue. A number considered optimal for informal games is 4 in the water, 1 sub (5 total).
- Inbounds area (that is, where the game can go on) is the water within the pool’s boundaries; if a pool is way too big, the area can be limited with a rope. If the ball touches the top of the deck, the water beyond the limit set by the rope, a non-player, game official, or any wall, structure, etc, it is considered out of bounds.
- At the start, the ball goes inbound mid-pool, after that, it can only advance by either making a throw for the hoop, or passing to a teammate; a player cannot move with the ball in their hands, and they cannot hold it underwater. Field goals are worth 2 points, free throws count for 1 point.
- After scoring, the ball begins play at the spot nearest to the deck (or rope), right next to the hoop.
- Any violation to the rules—as well as standard unsportsmanlike behavior: punching, elbowing, holding someone’s head underwater, etc.— will be grounds for a foul. The opposing team will begin gaining points for every foul after the 3rd.
This is, of course, not set in stone; you can come up with any variations you feel will make the game better for you and yours.
The Hoop Variations
There are two types: one that resembles a court-type one, with the ring attached to a backboard; and another that looks (and works) like a buoy, with the ring on top for you to score through.
The Ones That Score High
The following are options we believe worthy of completing your pool court; one of these may be just what you need.
1. GoSports Splash Hoop PRO Swimming Pool Basketball Game
Although made to emulate the conventional court hoop, it is also designed to look right at home at any poolside, and it is also available in 2 colors—blue and red—, which certainly lends itself to some playful ‘us vs them’ themes if we consider a pair of these is necessary for any actual matches.
Unit is comprised of 4 parts, which are fairly easy to snap together. The base needs only be weighted by filling it with water (using sand will void the warranty), and it will stay in place; this also means you can take it anywhere (to your apartment complex’s pool, for example), as long as you don’t mind putting together and taking apart. If you want to drain it, all that needs done is pulling out the plug at the base. 2 balls and pump included.
- Easier to set up an opposing-color theme game, if hoops are bought in contrasting colors.
- Balls can be easily maintained at proper air pressure, thanks to the included hand pump.
- Paint is known to chip off with relative ease; this may give the product a prematurely aged look.
2. Swimming Pool Basketball Hoop Set by Hoop Shark
This is a buoyant one, and worth considering if for any reason you would rather not spend time putting parts together: just inflate it, set it on the water, and let the fun begin. It is quite portable even inflated, as it weighs just over 3lbs, but you can always deflate it for transportation if necessary—since it is 40″ tall and 46″ wide.
Its large bore valve is designed to keep the unit leak-free, and also to make both inflating and deflating easier. The finish is textured, with reinforced seams to help with durability. The included basketball is size 5, which is commonly recommended for ages 9 to 11.
This item is also available in yellow.
- Ball included is a standard size, apt for younger players—and, by extension, adults.
- Top half prone to failing: multiple consumers have reported having to reinflate it constantly so as to keep using the product.
- Scoring shots are likely to send the ball off-bounds, as there is no net to direct its trajectory through the loop.
3. SwimWays 2 In 1 Pool Sport Combo Set
If you prefer not to be limited in your choice of fun, then you might want to consider this one, as its fairly unique design enables it to function as a hoop for basketball, or as court for volleyball. To this end, it includes a spare pole, a net capable of extending to a length of up to 24′, and one ball of each sport, so that you will not have to search for your own.
- Set provides double the choice of sports —basketball and volleyball—by just swapping a few parts around.
- Might be poorly suited to equip a full basketball court, as buying a second hoop means there will be spare parts —i.e. the second volleyball and net—in storage with little likelihood of being used.
- Hoop is reportedly difficult to assemble: several customers have reported requiring a strenuous amount of force to attach the ring to the backboard.
4. Intex – Floating Hoops 3, Incl Inflatable Pool Hoop and Basketball
If you like the buoyant design but are discouraged by how easy it is to overshoot when scoring, then this one might be something worth considering, as it comes with a sort of net that works the same way as regular hoops—by helping direct the trajectory of a scoring throw. Instead of a full bottom, the unit sits on a ring larger than the one at the top, which means the ball will impact squarely on the water after falling through.
A caveat worth noting: certain platforms offer this item at a lower price than if it is bought from the manufacturer. For this reason, there may be limitations when seeing the price—namely, it might be necessary to add the item to the cart (and then delete it at will) so as to check the item’s asking price. However, from our own independent research, we can verify this one is priced very, very low, to the tune of about a quarter of the average price we’ve seen out there.
Package includes one basketball, and one repair patch.
- It is potentially one of, if not the cheapest alternative available.
- Additional peace of mind against leaks, thanks to the included repair patch.
- Ball will stay within the hoop, instead of potentially flying off-bounds, after scoring.
- Per manufacturer policy, buyer might have to add item to cart before seeing the actual price, depending on the platform used to make the purchase.
- Prone to swaying or being blown over by wind.
- Included ball is reportedly too light for proper play—several customers reported opting for balls acquired separately.
5. SKLZ Pro Mini Hoop Basketball System with Adjustable-Height Pole and 7-Inch Ball
This is a particularly good potential pick if you like playing basketball whenever possible, as the same assembly can be adjusted for different uses. The pole can be set at altitudes ranging from 3′ (for water basketball) all the way to 7, which works just fine for playing outside. The base can be weighted, with sand being preferable according to the manufacturer, and it features wheels at the bottom for easier movement.
The backboard is shatterproof polycarbonate, and features spring action break-away. However—and tempting though it may be—, it is generally not recommended to go all-out dunking on this frame, as the union between ring and backboard is not solid enough (only 3 bolts, according to some accounts).
- Multiple uses: aside from poolside, it works to set up a court outside, or for indoors play.
- Far easier to move around when weighted than many other options, thanks to the wheels at the base.
- It is not rustproof; if the intention is to leave it outside, it must first be treated appropriately.
The Slam Dunk: GoSports Splash Hoop PRO Swimming Pool Basketball Game
In general, setting the hoop on hard, flat ground rather than on water might just be a more solid alternative (and closer to the original sport); there’s also something to be said about not having to fear a random puncture spoiling the fun. In addition, plastic comes with an inherent resistance to the elements.
Aside from these perks, this set comes with quite a bit of value uncommon for its category: available in two colors, it also includes not just one, but two balls, and even a pump so they will be properly inflated for every match. The only thing to be mindful, is the paint eventually decaying.
Everything is ready; the court is set. Game on!