How to Remove a Basketball Pole

Do you have an old in-ground basketball pole on your court that needs to be replaced or removed? Maybe its an eye-sore, or it’s in a bad spot. Or do you have a great in-ground basketball hoop and you are moving to a new house and want to take the hoop with you?

Either way, if you have an in-ground (mounted in concrete) basketball pole, it may seem like an almost impossible task to remove it, but don’t worry. It is possible with some simple engineering and a little elbow grease, to remove an inground basketball pole.

Unless you own or rent a backhoe or a bulldozer to knock the poll over, this can be a little labor-intensive so if your not up for the challenge and hard work you may want to hire someone to do this for you, but if you have basic DIY skills and don’t mind a little digging, then you can definitely do this job.

My Personal Experience

When I was a young kid, we had a great basketball hoop on our driveway that we used all the time. My father got a job transfer and we had to move, but we wanted to take the great hoop with us to our new house. I can still remember my father using a method similar to the one I will describe here to remove that basketball post. We took that basketball pole and installed it in our new house and used it for many years after that.

I have also had some experience in removing old fence posts. The method I will describe below is very similar and can really work for any type of post or pole that is cemented into the ground.

Resources You’ll Need

Below is a list of things you may need to remove the basketball pole:

  • Phone number of the local utility company (if you have inground utilities).
  • One or more helpers – the more helpers the better. You will be digging and you will also need lots of hands and strength to bring the pole gently to the ground.
  • A shovel.
  • Safety goggles.
  • Sledgehammer – if you are going to relocate the pole, you will need this to break the old concrete off of the pole.

How to Remove a Basketball Pole: A Step by Step Guide

The following are some general steps on how to remove an in-ground basketball pole. Keep in mind that this is a labor-intensive process and that basketball poles can be extremely heavy. Please use caution and make sure that the area surrounding the pole is clear. Use your helpers to try and gently bring the pole down.

While there are many ways to remove a pole set in concrete, the following method, in my opinion, is the one that requires the least amount of tools and resources. While it may take a little longer, you will not need tools like a jackhammer, bulldozer or other heavy equipment.

One last note before we start. If you would like you can remove the backboard and rim before you start. This will lighten the pole and make it easier to lower down once it is loosened and possibly prevent damage to the backboard and rim. Keep in mind that if you do remove the backboard you will need helpers to unfasten it and lower it down to the ground.

Step 1: Check for buried utilities.

If you have any buried utilities in your area such as gas, phone, electric, internet or cable, it is very important to ensure that you do not hit any of them when digging. Most cities provide free service to check for buried utilities before you dig. If you have any doubt call your local utility companies and ask them if they can mark all the buried services near your work area before you start digging.

Step 2: Clear the area.

Ensure that the area around the basketball pole is clear. Make sure people are out of the way and move any vehicles or other things that can be damaged.

Step 3: Begin digging.

Begin digging on each side of the pole next to the playing surface. See the diagram below.

Where to dig around the basketball pole. Photo by Melissa Medina

Step 4: Dig to the bottom of the pole.

Continue digging the holes until you reach the bottom of the pole and concrete. It will probably be at least 2 to 2.5 feet below the surface.

Step 5: Rock the pole back and forth.

Once the holes are dug. Get your helpers and begin pushing the pole back and forth in the direction of the holes that you have dug to try to loosen it. Be careful, because once it loosens, it is possible that it will fall to one side or the other.

Step 6: Walk the pole down to the ground.

Once it is loose enough to fall over, you and your helpers can slowly walk the pole down to the ground.

Step 7: (Optional) Remove the concrete.

If you are going to relocate the pole, take your sledgehammer and hammer the concrete on the bottom of the pole to crack and remove it from the pole. Be sure to wear your safety goggles for this part as there will be lots of debris flying around.

Additional Resources

There is a method in which you can use a truck and a tow rope to pull the pole down. This video shows how that can be done. This method may be faster but keep in mind that this method can be dangerous and you could risk damage to your truck if the pole falls on it.

If you are not going to reuse the pole, another option that can make the job a little easier is to use a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade and cut the pole off four or five feet from the ground. This requires some intense metal cutting and the use of a power tool, so this method may not be for everyone.

If you do choose to cut the pole first, please take all safety precautions. Make sure that you know how to use the tool and that you wear proper safety equipment at all times. Remember when you cut the pole it is going to fall like a tree, so make sure the area is clear and that it won’t hit anyone or anything.

Final Words

Removing a basketball pole can be difficult, but it is something that can be done with a little hard work and some help from friends and family. Remember to use caution, ensure the space is clear and make sure you use helpers, this is not a one-person job. Once you have that basketball pole removed you can relocate it or put in a brand new top of the line hoop if you want.

Have you ever removed a pole or post set in concrete? Do you have any other tips or advice? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments if you would like.

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  • Wes

    Thank you, this was very informative. I need additional information if you can provide it. How do you lift the pole remnant with the concrete attached? Isn’t it extremely heavy? How do you maneuver the concrete base to dispose of it? Thanks again.

    • Eric Winkler

      Hi Wes,

      This is a great question. I am assuming you will be cutting the pole off and then removing the base along with the concrete. You are correct, this can be quite heavy to lift, and due to the way it may be positioned in the hole it can often be awkward to get a hold of and lift out of the ground. If you are cutting the pole, I would first suggest cutting it at about 4 feet or so from the ground. This will leave a good portion of the pole to grab onto and pull up out of the ground. You will also want to make sure you have some helpers due to the weight. If needed you can also try tying some ropes around it to give something else to pull on.

      Once you get it out of the ground, you can cut the extra 4 feet off of the pole leaving only the concrete, or use a sledgehammer to bust the concrete up into smaller pieces. If you can’t cut it more or bust it up, have your helpers help you lift it into a wheelbarrow, a cart or use a dolly to move it to where ever you need to take it.

  • Vince Kris

    Do you think the labour is easier if I use a hand saw to cut the pole down in three places starting at the top. I do not need the basketball net anymore. I just want to get rid of it. No need to dig it out. Planning on leaving the cement the pole is in.

    Do you think using a hand saw would be more labour intensive. The saw that I have can cut a christmas tree and ground level easy enough.



  • L Dupre

    Thank you! Giving it a shot this weekend.

  • Don Smith

    Where can I buy a new Lifetime 3 1/2 Inch in ground pole ,they should be in 3 sections

  • Kelly Brown

    Thanks for sharing such an informative blog.