The 8 Best Basketball Return Systems

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This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Perfect for shooting a few hoops on your own or for speeding up a game of horse with a friend, these basketball return systems send your ball back to you without having to chase it around. They're also ideal for competitive athletes working to improve their skills. Rather than wasting energy retrieving balls, you can put it into increasing your scoring efficiency and developing your technique. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Airborne Athletics iC3

2. Sklz Rapid Fire II

3. Sklz Kick-Out

Editor's Notes

March 25, 2021:

One of our top models, the Sklz Rapid Fire II, was discontinued, so we removed it. Otherwise, there's been very little movement in this category. The Goalrilla B2608W is an identical replacement for a former selection, and the Airborne Athletics iC3 remains far and away the most reliable, although it's also quite expensive. If you need something that will keep the ball generally on the court, rather than something focused specifically on makes or misses, the Rukket Air Defense Backstop and Silverback Yard Guard are both worth a look, although the Silverback is only compatible with certain systems.

February 20, 2020:

There aren't a ton of catch-all rebounding systems out there, but there are some helpful pieces of equipment on the market that can increase the efficiency of your solo shoot-arounds. Of course, if you're just looking for a fun way to introduce a youngster to the game, the Franklin Sports Shoot Again might serve you quite well. Anyone more dedicated, though, will need something more substantial. The Spalding Back Atcha and Sklz Kick-Out are both compact, easily portable, and affordable, but their main drawback is they only send the basketball back your way after a make.

Alternately, the Rukket Air Defense Backstop is more of ball-retention net than a rebounding net, as it doesn't sit far enough in front of the rim to get every single shot. The Silverback Yard Guard has a little more reach, though, and it also does a good job of keeping your ball on the court and out of the street or the neighbor's yard. Meanwhile, the Hathaway Rebounder is slimmer than those two, and as long as you aren't constantly chucking severely off-target bricks, it should do a pretty good job.

If you're willing to spend a little more, there are two systems that are definitely worth mentioning that both perform relatively well. The Sklz Rapid Fire II requires a bit of patience to install to some systems, but as long as you're able to get it up, it actually works really well. Plus, it's light enough that it should work with many portable basketball hoops. Then there's the Airborne Athletics iC3. Outside of exorbitantly priced, motorized units, this is definitely one of the best around, in part because it forces you to modify your shot in such a way that each one has a significantly better chance of going in.

Special Honors

The Gun by Shoot-A-Way Shoot-A-Way has been designing rebounding systems for decades, and their high-end models have been proven by talented athletes at the highest levels of play. In fact, on their website, you can actually purchase pre-owned models once used by D1 collegiate squads, NBA teams, and even Lebron James himself. As you might expect, though, they cost anywhere from a few thousand to ten thousand dollars.

Dr. Dish Systems They're considerably expensive, but Dr. Dish's return systems are among the best in the world. They offer consumer-oriented solutions for highly dedicated players or relatively small-time leagues, and there's also a line of commercial-grade options suitable for the most demanding athletes.

4. Goalrilla B2608W

5. Silverback Yard Guard

6. Rukket Air Defense Backstop

7. Spalding Back Atcha

8. Franklin Sports Shoot Again

A Brief History Of Basketball

Using nine players on each side, the two teams played a thrilling 1-0 contest.

It may seem hard to believe now, but there was once a time when "posting someone up" meant hitting them upside the head with a two-by-four.

That all changed in 1891 C.E., however, when Dr. James Naismith created basketball. He was looking for a way to keep young athletes in peak condition even when the weather turned nasty, as there was precious little opportunity to play baseball in Massachusetts once December rolled around. Naismith's criteria for his new game were simple: it had to be easy to learn but complex enough to hold interest, extremely physically challenging, suitable for many players, and able to be played indoors.

Like any great inventor, Naismith borrowed liberally from other popular pursuits. He took the jump ball from rugby, the use of a goal from lacrosse, and the basic ball shape and size from soccer. He also used as inspiration a game he had played as a child called "duck-on-a-rock," which involved tossing a ball through a horizontal goal. Fortunately for everyone, he didn't borrow the name, saving us from endless debates as to whether Michael Jordan or Lebron James is the better duck-on-a-rock player.

Naismith asked a janitor for two boxes he could use as goals, and instead the janitor brought him a couple of peach baskets. Naismith nailed these baskets to the balconies at either end of the gym — balconies that just happened to be 10 feet off the ground. The good doctor quickly drew up a list of 13 rules and organized the first game. Using nine players on each side, the two teams played a thrilling 1-0 contest. Despite the lack of scoring, however, the game immediately proved to be immensely popular, and YMCAs all over the country began to join in.

The first pro league was founded in 1898, when six teams participated in the National Basketball League. Several competing organizations soon cropped up, but it was at the college level that the game truly took hold, spreading to schools across the country by 1900. The game would go worldwide in the early part of the 20th century, as American soldiers took it overseas when they went to fight in WWI. FIBA, the first international governing body, would be created in 1932, entrenching the game in the international consciousness.

The NCAA would create their infamous basketball tournament seven years later, which would go on to cost American companies billions in lost productivity over the course of its existence. Meanwhile, the NBA would be formed in 1946, and despite a brief challenge from the ABA, it would become the most celebrated professional league in the world.

Basketball is now one of the most widely-played (and watched) sports in the world, and even merits a spot at the Summer Olympics. The game's growth shows no signs of slowing down, especially as the NBA welcomes more and more international talent.

Benefits Of A Basketball Return System

Basketball is one of the rare sports that allows its players to work on core concepts entirely single-handedly. Any gym rat who spends enough time shooting threes or working on their crossover will see huge dividends as a result, so any aspiring athlete should take their practice time seriously.

And that's the biggest thing that a basketball return system can offer you — time.

And that's the biggest thing that a basketball return system can offer you — time. Since the ball comes back to you after just about every shot, you can get more shots up rather than chasing down your rebounds (and if the ball doesn't come back to you, then it's probably time to really tinker with your jumper). That's huge for high-level players, or anyone who hopes to get there someday. It gives you ample opportunity to work on your mechanics, rather than spending most of your practice session shagging balls.

They're not just for working on your game at home, either. Coaches can use them to speed up practices, giving shooters the opportunity to put up a massive amount of attempts in limited time. Having one of these systems won't take you from zero to hero overnight — you still have to put in a lot of hard work. However, it's a great way to ensure that you spend your time working on what's truly important, rather than wrangling your own misses.

How To Work On Your Skills When You're Alone

You can't always have your dad, coach, or best friend around when you're looking to work on your skills — and you should be looking to work on your skills all the time. Below are a few drills that are easy to do solo, but that can have a huge impact once you're actually in a game.

You can't always have your dad, coach, or best friend around when you're looking to work on your skills — and you should be looking to work on your skills all the time.

Your handle will never get to a point where it can't be improved on, so set up some cones in the driveway and work on your figure-8s and zig-zags. These may seem like basic, elementary drills, but they're the building blocks of any successful skill set, so do them until you can do them blindfolded — and then do them blindfolded. Furthermore, you should take every opportunity to lock in your shooting motion. Challenge yourself at the hoop. Can you make five in a row without hitting rim? What about ten? Also, be sure to simulate actual game situations. Try to knock down a jumper immediately after catching a pass, after a single dribble, after a catch-and-drive, etc.

Your conditioning is another thing that needs constant maintenance. Lace up those Air Jordans and do sprints. Drop and perform a few dozen push-ups so you won't get bullied in the paint. Stand under the basket and just jump. Working on the motions you'll actually use in a game will prepare your muscles for the rigors of a full session.

Most importantly, though, be sure to pretend like it's Game 7 of the NBA Finals before every drill — and provide your own crowd noise after you knock down the winning jumper.

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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