M. D. Bertz Net System Reviews

[ Equipment | Todd's Volleyball page ]

This is an extensive net review provided to me (and rec.sport.volleyball) by Michael David Bertz. Prices mentioned were as of Summer 1995. Check your favorite retailer for more current pricing. Used with permission. Updated Cobra information 10/29/97


From gt7575e@prism.gatech.edu  Thu Jun 19 23:43:04 1997
Newsgroups: rec.sport.volleyball
Organization: Georgia Institute of Technology
From: Michael David Bertz 
Subject: Re: outdoor net system recommendation
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 1997 00:31:00 -0400 (EDT)

Todd, I think that you were the one who originally posted the article
asking for advice on outdoor nets which I responded to.  I didn't
copy this post to you when I put it in the newsgroup, but I think
that you asked for advice again, so here it is.  Note that my estimated
prices are a little higher than what you posted (good deal for you! :).
I would recommend both the Park & Sun (Classic) or the Forster.



I have had experience with several net systems.  In nearly all cases,
the ultimate determiner about the liveliness of net play, etc., is who
set the net up and how well they did.

I have a Park & Sun Spectrum 2000 (I'm not sure if this is the now 'Classic'
or not, it's about 6 years old), and have been very happy with it.  It was
made by some neighbors of mine from Englewood, CO, so I guess I'm a little
biased (ABC!).  Anyway, while it's true that net play is limited versus a few
other systems because there is no bottom cable, this is somewhat true of 
most systems in your price range.  For best results, you need to erect the
net carefully and achieve your net tension so that it's evenly distributed
across the net from top to bottom (has the pleasant side effect of reducing 
stress at the top).  In my experience playing outdoors in Colorado, Ohio,
and Georgia, this is one of the most dominant net systems used.
Other advantages to the Park & Sun:  Metal poles, telescoping mechanism, net
already attached.

The Centerline "The Net" is a very similar system, with the differences (at
least amongst the nets I've seen) to the Park & Sun being smaller diameter
_steel_ poles versus the P&S's 2.25" dia. aluminum poles, which come in
three sections and must be assembled versus P&S's telescoping.  The net also
must be attached as you put it up.  Overall, I've also had very good results
with The Net and would recommend it, too.

The GT Volleyball Club 1.5 years ago purchased one of the then-new Forster
net systems.  We like it a lot because it boasts ~3" dia. telescoping  
aluminum poles which offer unlimited adjustability, unlike the P&S which has
little metal nubs which spring-out at pre-set heights.  This allows the
Forster net to be adjusted to achieve 'real' heights (other net systems often
end up a little low).  The net is also pretty sturdy, with wooden dowels 
vertically at the ends to help provide full-net tension.  It comes complete
with a sand kit (the P&S and Centerline models are extra, I believe).
We've had very good results with this net and it seems to be holding up well
with pretty strenuous use.  The Forster system bag is a little larger and
heavier than both the P&S and Centerline (P&S is the lightest I've used).

The best system I've used is the 'Cobra' system which I guess is now being
marketed by AAI, but was developed by some guy in California.  It consists
of a pair of 18" (? maybe 24") stakes which are driven with a sledge into
the ground.  The poles are somewhat flexible and fit over the stakes with
sleeves.  The greatest benefit of this system is the lack of guy wires and
the lively net play.  It is also nearly impossible to pull down.  Obvious
drawbacks are the weight of the system and needing to pound the stakes in.
I will say from experience though that it is worth it.  Oh, and the system
is a little pricey, too.  

As for the $40 jobs from your local Wal-Mart, STAY AWAY unless you only
intend to use it with your average picnic-baller.  A member of the club
recently purchased one and it came with 1" dia. PVC (??!!??) poles which
nearly buckled as we tried to tension the net.  All in all, not good.

So, to summarize:

Park & Sun (at least the Spectrum 2000)
   Adv:  Ease of setup/takedown, telescoping poles, decent net tension,
         not too heavy
   Disadv:  No unlimited net height adjustment, can give poor net tension
            if not erected properly
   Bottom line:  A good upper-middle level net, suitable for all levels
   Price (guestimate):  $299

Centerline The NET
   Adv:  Pretty light, not too tough to setup/takedown, decnet net tension
   Disadv:  Poles are not one piece/telescoping, tougher to get good tension
            than P&S
   Bottom line:  A good middle level net, suitable for all levels
   Price (guestimate):  $279-289

Forster Net system
   Adv:  Unlimited net height adjustment, easy to setup/takedown, telescoping
   Disadv:  A little heavier, more complicated to assemble (though once this
            is done, you're golden)
   Bottom line:  An excellent upper-middle level net, suitable for all levels
   Price (guestimate):  $340-350

Cobra Net system
   Adv:  Get net play and tension, no guy wires
   Disadv:  Very heavy when you include the sledge, takes a little longer
            to set up (especially when new to the curve), pricey
   Bottom line:  Great net if you put on a lot of tournaments and the field's
                 owner doesn't mind a few small-diameter holes
   Price (guestimate):  $400-500
Editors note: Cobra net system is actually around $300
Well, there you have it.
As always, standard disclaimer applies, especially on the prices,
and the fact that most manufacturers make more than one model - be
sure and examine the features on the one that you're about to order.
Nearly everyone has their own opinions about which net to buy.
If you're really looking at ~$300, I'd buy the Park and Sun.
If you can spend a little more, consider the Forster.
Also as always, your mileage may vary.


Michael Bertz
Georgia Institute of Technology
e-mail:  gt7575e@prism.gatech.edu