Basketball can be a fun game, but the noise from someone else playing can be particularly annoying. After my neighbors installed a hoop in their backyard, I did some research on how to block basketball noise.
Below I’ll go into the ways you can reduce basketball noise in detail. First I’ll take a look at the principles behind basketball noise.
Also read: How To Stop Shoes From Making Noise
What Kind of Noise is Basketball Noise?
Probably the main source of noise complaints is the sound of the basketball bouncing around. On top of this, the players themselves are likely making some noise.
This means you have several kinds of noise to deal with.
Also, you need to factor in your proximity to where it’s being played, and the surfaces the ball is bouncing off.
Noise pollution is largely broken down into 2 categories:
- Impact noise
- Airborne noise
You’ll be working with both when trying to block basketball noise, so here’s some general information on both.
Impact noise is caused when an object hits a surface. The contact produces vibrations through the surface, which become sound waves when they reach air.
The most common example is people walking on a floor. Their footsteps create impact noise when they make contact with the floor, which sends vibrations through the structure.
It can be tricky to deal with impact noise for several reasons.
First, the sound is made through direct contact with a surface. This means the vibrational waves are stronger because they haven’t lost energy transmitting to the surface.
Second, impact noises travel off in multiple directions. For example, someone walking on a floor might be heard in the room below, but also in adjacent rooms.
In this instance, the basketball hitting a surface would cause impact noise. If the surface is something like a garage door or a wall of your house, it’ll be really noticeable.
Airborne noise is much simpler to understand. It’s sound that travels through the air from the source to your ears. That said, it’s still classed as airborne noise if it passes through a structure first.
Common examples include the sound of TV and people talking. In this instance, the sound of the players talking to one another would be an example of airborne noise.
But airborne and impact sounds can often be linked. When a noise source creates impact noise, some of its vibrational energy will reflect off the surface and transmit through the air as airborne noise.
For example, when the basketball is bounced off a surface, some of its energy will transfer into the surface, but some is reflected off. This is why you can hear the bounce where it happens and elsewhere.
So when trying to block basketball noise you need to factor in blocking both airborne and impact sound.
If basketball is played indoors this’ll be much easier, but you can still manage the solution if it’s played outdoors.
How to Block Basketball Noise
When it comes to blocking basketball noise, you’ll have an easier time doing so if it’s happening on your property.
If your neighbors are playing basketball then you’ll be slightly more limited in what you can do.
Here are some ways you can block basketball noise:
- Add mass to the wall the basketball is bounced off
- Dampen the floor
- Reinforce your fence
- Reduce sound transmission through your windows
- Use a white noise machine
Let’s talk about these in detail.
1. Add mass to the wall the basketball is bounced off
If the basketball is bounced off a wall and that’s annoying you, it’s possible to mitigate the issue to a degree.
Adding mass to the structure will reduce the amount it can vibrate. In turn, this reduces the transmission of impact sound waves into the structure.
Your best bet is to use limp mass, as this reduces vibration at the source. Instead it helps to dissipate sound waves rather than transmitting them.
For this you have 2 options:
- Mass loaded vinyl (Amazon link)
- Sound deadening mats (Amazon link)
Either will do the job fine as they’re both limp mass. The only real difference is that one is made from vinyl and the other from butyl rubber.
All you need to do is add the product to the wall the basketball is being bounced off. If this is a garage, for example, it’ll be fine to add it indoors. This’ll help to prolong the product’s lifespan.
The more product you add to the wall, the heavier it’ll be. There’s no limit to how much you can add, but it might need to be a lot because basketballs have quite a lot of energy.
Also, seal any gaps with Green Glue. This is a sound damping compound that converts sound waves into heat energy and will make a small but noticeable difference.
2. Dampen the floor
Another useful option is to dampen the floor in the area where the basketball is thrown.
If it’s outdoors and being thrown on a concrete or stone driveway, for example, noise transmission won’t be a massive issue.
The bigger issue will be the level of airborne noise created when the basketball is bounced off the hard, flat surface.
You can reduce this problem using something like EVA foam mats.
These are commonly used in gyms as cushioning, but also help to reduce noise pollution. They come in various sizes, but I recommend the 1” thick version for best results.
Hopefully, this product shouldn’t reduce the basketball’s bounce too much. EVA foam is quite springy so should have little impact on the game.
Simply cover the floor in these mats and you should notice results straight away. This option will work indoors and outdoors.
But if you’re putting them outdoors, it’s worth picking them up again after. They’ll eventually break down if they spend too long wet.
3. Reinforce your fence
If neighbors playing basketball in their backyard is an issue, there’s not really as much you can do.
That said, you can have a go at reinforcing or insulating your fence or wall to try to improve its sound blocking ability.
If you have a chain-link fence then you’ll need to do a lot of work. A wooden fence isn’t much better but has the advantage of being a solid surface.
A brick or stone wall is the best starting point because it’s slightly thicker and more solid, meaning fewer vibrations will pass through.
Much like the wall, adding mass loaded vinyl or sound deadening mats is a good start. You can then cover these with a privacy screen (Amazon link) for a better finish.
Alternatively, fix up some foam panels to the side being hit by the basketball. Like the flooring option, this’ll help to dampen the impact at the source, meaning it shouldn’t be as loud.
4. Reduce sound transmission through your windows
If the noise is coming from farther away and is only a minor annoyance, reinforcing your windows in some way should help to combat the problem.
Bear in mind this won’t be suitable for impact noise but will lessen the problem of airborne noise.
One option is to fit soundproof curtains. These will help to muffle sounds that transmit through the window because they’re heavier than normal curtains.
Another option is to fit some plexiglass in front of your window. This alone won’t do loads, but it’s more about the cavity you leave between the acrylic and the window.
This is why double-glazing is better at sound and thermal insulation than single-glazing. It’s not the extra glass but rather the air gap between them. You simply need to replicate this process again.
- Measure the size of the whole window frame.
- Cut the plexiglass to the right size.
- Fit it with a gap between it and the window. Up to 2 inches is best.
- Seal any gaps with Green Glue.
You could even try putting some acoustic foam in the cavity as a sound absorber, although this isn’t strictly necessary.
A single sheet of plexiglass alone might not be enough, so you can always double up for better sound blocking.
5. Use a white noise machine
If there’s little you can do regarding the structure of your home then your next best option is to try and mask the sound.
A white noise machine is perfect for this. White noise covers all the frequencies audible to the human ear so is ideal for masking distracting background noise.
That said, it won’t be amazing against impact noise as that’s structural. It’ll be fine against airborne noise, however.
If your white noise machine has the option, it’ll be even more effective to listen to it through headphones. A pair of noise canceling headphones will do a great job here.
Some Final Thoughts
Hopefully, this guide has given you some options for how to block basketball noise. This can be a challenge because you might not always have control over where it’s being played.
If all else fails, I recommend trying to talk to your neighbors to see if you can reach an agreement. After all, this could prove to be much less expensive!