How High Is A Basketball Hoop? A Brief Look At The History Of The Rim

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Written By Max Kesler

Basketball superfan. Proprietor of

According to official rules, a basketball hoop is 10-feet (305cm) above the ground. Pretty easy to remember, huh?

The rim measures exactly 10-foot (305cm) off the ground

And what about in women’s basketball? Although women are on average shorter than men, the hoop in women’s basketball is also 10-feet high.

For much younger players, however, a regular rim is simply too high. Playing basketball on a 10-foot rim would be incredibly challenging, and therefore youth basketball has the following hoop height guidelines:

  • Ages 5 to 7: 6-foot rim
  • Ages 8-10: 8-foot rim 
  • Ages 11: 9-foot rim
  • Ages 12+: 10-foot rim

That’s surely a big hassle for parents, right? Luckily, most in-ground and portable basketball hoops are adjustable. Phew!

Why 10-feet?

Many people wrongly assume the top of the basketball hoop stands 10-foot above the ground because it’s a nice number. But, the actual reason can be found lying in the history of basketball.

There was once a Canadian gym instructor at a YMCA school in Springfield, Massachusetts, called James Naismith. During a harsh winter in 1891, Naismith was tasked with creating an exciting and challenging game that could be played indoors on rainy days. By taking inspiration from existing sports like soccer and football, the first ever iteration of basketball was born.

At the time, basketball hoops obviously didn’t exist. Instead, Naismith hung peach baskets on the railing of a running track that circled the outer perimeter of the gym.

And guess how high that railing was? 10-feet!

(In fact, YMCA gyms were actually built to the same specifications, so they all had these 10-foot high railings available!)

Credit: Black Fives Foundation

Could A Higher Rim Benefit The Game?

It’s no secret that being taller is a big advantage in basketball. In fact, professional basketball players have been getting taller and taller.

Back in 1946, when the NBA first started, players were on average 6’2 to 6’3 tall. Nowadays, however, NBA players are on average 6’7 tall.

That has led to some people arguing for the regulation height of the basketball hoop to be raised. For instance, a higher rim would make fundamentals more important, as making shots closer to the rim would be more challenging and less dependent on the height and physicality of players.

Everyone Loves The Slam Dunk

The ability to get above the rim and dunk a basketball might seem unfair to those who can’t reach the rim. But let’s be honest here, I doubt many basketball fans would want to see fewer dunks during games.

Personally, I feel a hoop being higher than 10-foot would be a big slap in the face for those of us who weren’t born giants. It’s high enough as it is!

And besides, it appears there would be no end to raising the height. There will always be a freak who can reach even higher. Let’s not forget about Dwight Howard comfortably dunking on a 12-foot rim during the 2009 NBA Slam Dunk Contest:

1 thought on “How High Is A Basketball Hoop? A Brief Look At The History Of The Rim”

  1. Women players in the 1950’s must have been better players than today’s male counterparts because of their height.


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