Feature Article - February 2011
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Maintenance Series: Gymnasiums

Beauty and the Beast: Maintaining Your Gym

By Dawn Klingensmith

How often a backstop needs to be inspected depends on its level of use and severity of play. A system that has not been inspected in four or five years, or not at all, should be serviced immediately, Warner said.

Frequently used systems call for annual inspections, but in other cases, once every two or three years might suffice.

"Bleachers are different. I almost always tell people to have them inspected two times a year," Warner said. "You have many more moving parts, and you're carrying a live load."

One reason only trained individuals should operate basketball backstop systems is the widespread tendency among coaches and student athletes, when raising and lowering baskets, to override a safety feature requiring them to "stand there and hold a switch until the basket comes to a complete stop," Warner said.

It's inconvenient, but intentional, so if something goes wrong during the 60 to 90 seconds the system is in motion, the operator is right there to disable the power.

"Schools defeat the design in various ways to speed up the process and so they don't have to stand there, which creates a safety issue," Warner said. "You need someone who understands why the system is designed the way it is and is aware of the potential dangers before they start operating it with a lackadaisical attitude."

A thorough basketball backstop maintenance and inspection checklist includes inspecting the motor drive unit, adjusting limits as necessary, inspecting the complete cable system, lubricating and tightening all moving joints, inspecting and tightening bolts, inspecting support tubular steel, tightening clamps and joist hangers, checking and adjusting deployment for proper movement, inspecting switches, and inspecting and lubricating pulleys.

One feature you should have even if you inspect and maintain your suspended basketball equipment regularly is a fully automatic safety strap, which acts as a backup so if a cable fails the safety strap senses it and is actuated to stop the backboard from falling in much the same manner as seat belts prevent a car's occupants from flying forward in the event of a crash.