The Lifetime 51544 is the ideal portable basketball hoop for any sorts of hobby basketball players. Of course, you cannot expect it to bring premium features at such a non-premium price point but it still manages to be one exceptionally good model for all sorts of players. We found it particularly good for kids since it has a wider backboard and is very durable with shatterproof parts as well as padding on its pole. If you are looking for a great model to start playing basketball with your kids at, look no further. This one can and will handle any sort of abuse from kids playing on it even them hanging on the hoop, as well as bad weather conditions. Let’s dive into this review and see its interesting features, as well as main pros and cons.
Our Verdict: We recommend the Lifetime 51544 to anyone looking for an affordable hoop for him and his friends or for his kids to play on. Sure, it isn’t a Spalding hoop but you might be surprised at how well this holds its ground to more expensive models.
Continue reading to learn more about this top-selling model by Lifetime
Features That Make It Stand Out
Are you in need of a well-built, feature packed portable basketball system that’s designed with kids in mind? The 51544 comes with some great safety features and is highly adjustable, so your child won’t quickly outgrow it.
Throughout all the features which we will showcase, you will feel the vibe of this being a more kids-oriented product. This isn’t just a feeling you will be getting but a reasonable understanding of what this product has to offer you and your family. The height adjustment options ensure that your little basketball players will grow along with the hoop they will be playing on. The five year warranty will also ensure that the hoop will stay in one piece for years to come.
Another kid-friendly design feature is the backboard. In fact, let’s talk a little more about it:
The backboard is made out of polycarbonate. This isn’t exactly a great material for serious players but then again serious players will look past this model 10 out of 10 times. The material of this board is made to withstand shocks and hits and is entirely shatterproof aided by the steel frame. You’d think that this would take all the rebound away but we were surprised at how “reboundy” the whole thing felt.
If you are getting this hoop for yourself then it will be the perfect practice machine for distance shots and shooting drills. Now, let’s continue with the next most important thing:
Just by knowing the gallons this base fits you will understand why we wouldn’t recommend this to adults. 34 gallons of space even when filled with sand won’t allow adults to dunk or hang on the hoop even though lighter game will be entirely okay. The wheels of the base make transporting this hoop from point A to point B easier, but not as easy as some other models with a wheelbarrow design. Leaks aren’t something typical for these models but you should keep your base away from sharp objects and potential harm. During windy seasons and/or extreme weather make sure you either cover or take the hoop apart to place it in your garage.
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The pole consists of three parts which isn’t ideal but then again it is sturdy enough to hold the backboard in place without too much wobble. A benefit of the three-piece system is the height adjustability. It can vary from seven and a half feet to ten feet all done by the slide of a handle at the back of the support pole.
A very cool feature of the pole is that it comes with padding. The last thing you’d want if your kids are playing basketball is for one of them to hit the pole when there is no padding to it. More padding always equals safer play time for the little guys so it is always a welcomed feature.
Want to learn more about portable basketball systems? Check out our Buyer’s Guide!
The rim on this thing is super premium and isn’t typical for this price class at all. It uses a set of compression springs which increase its durability while also making it feel far more natural than some other rims in this price range. The steel hooks for the wet are welded which is also a rare thing for such a basketball hoop.
The netting is weather-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor conditions and means that you won’t have to take it on and off every time a rain starts or it is scorching hot outside.
The springs of the hoop are metal, though, and you will have to cover then when it’s raining. Luckily for you, there is a large cover included in your package. It’s the little things like that that make the user experience so much better.
Once again, if any of the parts break or misbehaves, there is a 5 year warranty covering any type of malfunction of the whole basketball hoop.
How Easy It Is To Assemble?
If you are assembling this alone it will take you around 3 hours to complete it. If you’re experienced in these kinds of tasks, it won’t take more than 1-2 hours, especially if you have an extra set of hands. Still, have in mind that the included instructions aren’t exactly the best. In case you cannot figure something out there is a daily customer service team at your disposal.
Out on the court, this mid-priced portable basketball system can’t handle an intense pickup game with adults, but it does make a great choice for kids and young teens. While the manufacturer markets this system to players of all ages, it’s obvious that it cannot handle rough gameplay from larger players.
The three-piece pole design negatively impacts the system’s stability, however, the thirty-four gallon base somewhat makes up for it. The base size is better than average, compared to other models in this price range, which normally have a max base capacity of around twenty-five gallons. While the larger base does help to improve stability, it’s not quite enough to allow adults to dunk.
You’ll note that the system tends to sway back and forth if a heavier player dunks or with a three-pointer rim shot. We wouldn’t recommend leaving this model out on a windy day, since it has a reputation for tipping over.
Considering this isn’t one of the most stable portable basketball systems on the market, the shatterproof backboard may not even be a big deal, since any dunking that’s done will be by children. However, the added safety is definitely a nice touch that parents can appreciate.
Another great safety feature is the pole padding, which will protect kids if they accidentally crash into the pole during a game. Unfortunately, not many basketball systems come with this safety feature, which is one of the reasons this model scored big points with parents.
Despite being made out of polycarbonate, you’ll notice that the backboard is pretty responsive, allowing the ball to easily bounce off it.
Since this model is height adjustable, it’s a well-built family friendly model, it simply just doesn’t have the type of stability that’s needed for training purposes or a serious pickup game.
Overall, if you’re looking for a portable basketball system that your child won’t quickly outgrow, then the 51544 is a great choice and one that won’t break the bank.
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Now that we’ve gone over what type of performance you can expect, it’s time to check out the pros and cons of this model.
- Shatterproof backboard
- Sturdy construction
- Padded poles which are kid-friendly
- Adjustable height
- Great value for the money
- You get a spring cover for the rim’s springs
- Full 5 years warranty
- Free customer support
- Larger than average base size
- Can be a bit tricky to assemble if you don’t have experience
- The straight pole can get in your way when playing below the ring
- Not stable enough for adult use
- Must be stored safely during high wind conditions