Design Your Kids An Over-The-Door Basketball Net For Year-Round Hoops
By Mara Shaughnessy
Images supplied by author
Mar 9, 2022
It's basketball season, which means it's time to swish up a kid's bedroom with my over-the-door basketball hoop.
The knotting may seem difficult, but I promise you it's worth the effort. And although this craft uses a wire hanger, I have a feeling that even Joan Crawford would have loved to practice her half-court threes on this adorable game for kids.
Let's get started!
What You'll Need
- paper or bristol board
- clothes hanger
- masking tape
- colourful tape
How It's Made
To make a sturdy base for your backboard, cut a rectangle of cardboard. The one I've cut here (see above) is about 25 cm tall and 40 cm wide — just slightly wider than the hanger.
Next, use tape to attach your hanger to the cardboard. Roll lengths of tape around the wire to get a sturdy hold on the hanger, then press the tape down on the cardboard. Allow the extra length of tape to wrap up and over the top edge of the cardboard and onto the other side to hold everything in place.
Flip the cardboard to the “front side.” (The side without the hanger.) Cut a rectangle of bristol board to the same size as your cardboard and use glue to attach it. If you don’t have bristol board, using a few sheets of smaller paper to cover your cardboard will work just as well!
Now have fun decorating your backboard! I opted to make a standard backboard in red and white, but you can get as creative as you like. Choose your favourite team colours, decorate with logos or add your own original artwork. To make the lines on our backboard, I used a roll of red electrical tape I had on hand, but you can make your lines and decorations in many ways: with paint, markers or cut paper. Have your little ones help design it — use prompts like, "who is your favourite athlete or team?" And if they aren't able to recall any sports teams or athletes, you can ask them about their favourite things and incorporate those themes into the backboard!
Here’s my finished backboard, complete with a rectangle for bank shots and trimmed around the border.
Now it’s time to make the rim for your basketball net. Twist two pipe cleaners together to give yourself a longer length of pipe cleaner to work with (shown at the top of the photo). Bring the ends of your pipe cleaner together to make a loop. Twist the ends to close your circle, but leave an extra 5 or 6 cm of pipe cleaner sticking out (shown at the bottom of the photo). You’ll use the extra sticky-outy pieces to secure your rim to your backboard later.
Next, the net! Cut several lengths of string. My string is about the length of a ruler. Tie a string at the north, south, east and west positions of your rim. A double-knot will keep your strings nice and secure.
Use a bit of judgment to decide how many more strings to tie on. This rim looked good with three additional strings tied in each of the four quadrants for a total of 16 strings. You can tie on more or less, as long as you tie on an even number of strings. For the next steps, you’ll be tying strings in pairs. An odd number of strings will leave you with one string that doesn't have a partner. Note: Before moving on to the next step, trim the loose ends of the double-knots you tied around the rim to make it look nice and tidy.
Now it’s time to start knotting your net. Start anywhere you like along the rim. Find two neighbouring strings. Gather both strands together and tie them into a single knot about 3 cm down from the rim. Move to the next pair of strings, tie them in a knot and so on. This is a task for adult hands, or kids who have the dexterity to tie many knots.
Here is a “flattened” demonstration of a first row of knots. Keep pairing and knotting strings until you arrive at the first knot you tied. That’s one row complete!
Create a second row of knots a few centimeters down from your first row — but this time, create new pairs. Take one string from one pair and one string from the pair next door. Tie a knot. Create another new pair, until just like your first knots, you arrive back to where you started.
When it’s time to create your third row, you’ll do the same. The third row is in essence reuniting the original pairs from your first row. You can see in the illustration above how the rows of knots and string pairings will start to create the signature diamond pattern of a basketball net as they move together and apart, together and apart.
If during the knotting process you get mixed up or lose your place, hold the rim horizontally at eye-level and give it a gentle shake. The strings will fall downward and sort themselves out. This will make it easier to find your next pair of strings to knot. The net is pretty forgiving. It doesn’t need to be done perfectly or be mistake-free to look like a very convincing basketball net!
Create as many rows of knots as you think suit the size of your rim and backboard. This net has five rows of knots. Once you’re done tying, trim the loose ends at the bottom of the net with a pair of scissors to make it look even and tidy.
Now it’s time to attach the rim! Poke a hole through your backboard.
Feed the loose ends of your pipe cleaner net through to the back side of your cardboard and use tape to secure them. Take a peek at the front side of your backboard. If your rim is drooping or tilting downward, pull the pipe cleaner ends tighter/through to the back side more and tape them down again.
If you’d like to use your backboard over a door knob or a closet handle, it’s ready to go as is. If you want to use it over the back of a door, you’ll want to change the orientation of the hook. Carefully and gently twist the top of the hanger a quarter-turn so the hook curls backward and away from the front of the backboard.
Important: The coat hanger has the potential to scuff and scratch surfaces. It’s a good idea to wind masking tape around the hook of the hanger, or to place something soft and protective underneath it like a washcloth before you play. I added another piece of cardboard onto the back of my backboard to sandwich the hanger inside as an extra layer of protection.
Now it’s time to play! Hang up your net, ball up some scrap paper and take your best shot. Log some hours practicing your free throws, three-pointers and baseline jumpers. Or, set up a family March Madness tournament of your own! Draw up a tourney bracket, seed all of the competitors … and watch out for those mid-major upsets!
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