The invention of Canadian-American sports coach Dr. James Naismith in late 1891, basketball was first played at the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts. Naismith had been tasked with finding a way to keep kids active indoors during the biting New England winters. After some trial and error, the game was invented, and a colossal sports industry was born. The YMCA’s gym flooring was made from maple wood planks, which is still one of the standard materials used today.
The central reason why maple is used is due to its solidity. In regards to timber usage, the Janka hardness test (also referred to as “the Janka scale”) specifies the hardness of every type of wood. Maple rates at 1450 on the scale, white oak hits 1360, 1320 is for white ash, and 800 is for mahogany. Oftentimes, when maple basketball courts are installed, maple wood will typically sit on top of a subfloor made of a softer wood, such as Douglas fir (the Janka hardness test gives it a 660 score) or Western white pine (420). There are numerous kinds of subflooring used in gyms all over the world, but they all have the same essential goal: to diminish the impact to your ankles, knees and lower back during a game.