Landscape Architect & Specifier News

Inclusion an Essential Component of Bankshot Play Structures September 2003 / By Gregory V. Harris, LASN

Founded on the belief that sports and play structures should be open to all, Dr. Reeve Brenner established the "Total-Mix Sports" concept with activities such as Bankshot Basketball™, Bankshot Tennis™ and Bankshot Tri-Sport™.

Brenner, founder and president of the Bankshot Organization, said in total-mix sports, players do not necessarily play against one another, they play alongside one another, with no participants being excluded.

"With Total-Mix sports, you find that coordination and practice, developmental skills and prefigurative intelligence - rather than stature and stamina - determine athletic proficiency," Brenner said.

Bankshot sports are nonaggressive and are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Participants of all ages, sizes and abilities can play together at bankshot facilities.

Bankboard Fun

Bankshot permanent courts are made up of a series of angled, curved and nonconventionally configured brightly colored fiberglass backboards. These backboards, known as "bankboards," are fitted with traditional rims and supported on steel poles, either embedded or anchor-bolted into the playing surface. Each bankshot station is made up of one or more bankboards. The "three-pack" permanent court is the smallest of the courts, consisting of three stations and six bankboards. On the other end of the spectrum, the "bank-around-the-clock" system features 24 stations and 42 bankboards.

Bankshot-on-a-roll is a trailer version of Bankshot Basketball™ featuring nine of the permanent court's most popular stations. Players make their way around the trailer from station to station, as in all bankshot systems. The trailer is 20 feet long by 8 feet wide. The Bankshot Tri-Sport System is three games in one, featuring Bankshot Tennis™ and Bankshot Pitch and Throw. Like Bankshot Basketball™, it is offered in sets of three to 18 stations, laid out in various configurations.

One of our high school physics teachers became interested in Bankshot to demonstrate concepts taught in class

On a Bankshot Basketball™ court, each shot requires a different banked shot to score. Some shots demand caroms off two bankboards, some are ricochets, and one shot has three bankboards and two rims. Players use a scorecard to track their score as they shoot increasingly difficult shots at each of the stations.

Players go from one station to the next, with points being dependent on from where the player shoots. Colored circles mark the shooting spots. Players attempt to make two shots from each circle, and participants must complete all three circles for each station before moving on to the next station. A bankshot player starts at station one and moves along in numerical order. Station 19, the "black hole," is the tiebreaker.

Since its establishment in 1981 as a game and subsequent evolvement into a philosophy, Bankshot play structures have been added to communities worldwide. Two such communities are Mantua Township, N.J., and Lee's Summit, Mo. The following stories describing the bankshot experience are from officials of these communities, respectively.

Lee's Summit

Mark C. White, MS, CPSI, environmental risk manager, Lee's Summit R-7 School District, Lee's Summit, Missouri Recently, the Mason Elementary School PTA decided to update and expand their playground. As part of the planning, a survey was conducted to gather input from parents, students and planning team members. Ball-playing sports was one of the high priorities listed by all parties.

Mason Elementary School is located in an area of town with a large number of children involved in various competitive sports teams, especially basketball. The planning team began looking for something that all children could play regardless of their ability or disabilities. Having seen the Bankshot program on the internet, we ordered video and literature on the program. After reviewing the materials we quickly realized that Bankshot could be a perfect fit towards meeting our goals of providing a safe, age-appropriate and universally accessible playground environment.

A visit to Bankshot Organization headquarters convinced me that Bankshot would be ideal for the community. After making the "Black Hole" on my second attempt I was hooked and saw the great potential the program had for our children.

Several of our educators began to realize the academic potential for using Bankshot as an extension of the classroom. One of our high school physics teachers became interested in Bankshot to demonstrate concepts taught in class. Before her retirement, the principal of Mason Elementary School gave the PTA "seed money" to grow the project. The Lake Lottawana Optimist Club, a tremendous supporter of Mason Elementary School, uses the school grounds for their little league baseball program and maintains two baseball diamonds. They saw the potential for Bankshot to become an extension of the "Friend of Youth" projects and made a substantial donation to the PTA. These donations combined with various PTA fundraisers as well as contributions from the district and local businesses have made the first phase of our tournament court a reality.

Concerned parents, volunteers and employees from our district ground's and carpentry shops used their time and talents to build the court and install the Bankshot boards.

A unique event occurred the day after our court was opened and is a perfect example of how this play structure can bridge the generation gap. The story involves a young boy who was sent to the principal's office for some unknown infraction of the rules. The ice was finally broken to get to the root of the problem when the boy and the principal starting talking about Bankshot. The young boy proudly mentioned that he was one of the few who "made the Black Hole" shot the night before during a school open house. The principal said to the student, "You know, I've tried to make that shot all week and haven't." From that connection they were able to resolve the problem and the young man went back to class.

Bankshot is starting to become a real hit in our community. Unlike some of our more traditional playground equipment Bankshot definitely has the staying power that keeps kids coming back for more. We are working to form the "Midwest Bankshot Organization" (MBO) to promote the sport with such groups as the local Optimist Club, a large retirement community and possibly with a couple of professional and semi-professional sports teams and individuals.

It is my goal to encourage other school districts and organizations to raise the funds necessary to build a Bankshot court and participate in this wonderful program."

Mantua Township

David B. Armor, LSP, MSS, director, Gloucester County (NJ) Dept. of Human Services, and adjunct professor of sociology, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ.

In 1997, our first county Bankshot Basketball™ court was introduced in Mantua Township. It was immediately apparent that, compared to our climbing playground, the Bankshot court was used by groups and individuals representing a wide range of ages, size, and abilities. In the 2000 National Tournament, players competed in seven divisions: 12 and under; teen; adult (19-54); senior (55 and older); wheelchair; wheelchair and partner; and challenger division. At a climbing playground, parents stand on the sidelines and watch their children. On the Bankshot court, parents play with their children and alongside everyone - old, young, athletes, wheelchair users, with no one excluded.

National Organization

As a result of the growing number of bankshot court installations, the National Association of Bankshot Operators was formed. The NABO brings together the bankshot community, provides services for bankshot system operators as well as for players and enthusiasts of bankshot sports. These courts have been installed at more than 100 sites around the world. Association members are located throughout the United States and several Canadian provinces.