Introduction: PVC Soccer Goals

About: Whoever first said "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me" obviously never attended a ninja poetry slam.

A small group of my co-workers have been playing a semi-regular game of pickup soccer for close to two years.  With the excitement of the World Cup festering in our cubicle-encased minds, we decided to make some goals sized right for our 3 on 3 and 4 on 4 games.  Thus were born the plans for our PVC soccer goals, which were far easier to move back and forth than full size goals, and didn't make us "waste" players by needing someone in goal.  All told, these goals cost roughly $50 each to put togther.  That's a bit cheaper than the $70 per goal we were finding commercially available.  We settled on 1 1/2" PVC, and I believe these are a bit sturdier than the store-bought goals, and they do provide some flexibility for size should our little game ever expand.  Step 7 also shows an even cheaper alternative.  Now on to the building! 

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Tools you will need:
* handsaw
* PVC glue
* drill w/ bit slightly larger than wire
* pliers and/or wire cutters
* roll of white duck tape
* tape measure
* Sharpie
* Nylon cord (if you plan to make your own net)

For each goal you want to make (we constructed two), you will need at least:
* (x6) rounded PVC corners
* (x4) T-style PVC connectors
*  1 1/2" PVC pipe (amount depends on size, roughly 50' for 5'x8' design)
*  14 gauge (approximate) galvanized steel wire

Alternate 5' x 10' goal design checklist:
* (x4) 3-way 90 degree PVC connectors
* (x4) internal 45o elbows
* (x2) 90 degree joints
* 1/2" PVC pipe (amount depends on size, roughly 60' for 5'x10' design shown)

As for the PVC size- I suppose it's worth mentioning that you must have connectors that match the size of the PVC you've chosen.  The original goals (not of my design) used 1 1/2" PVC, however I believe 1 1/4" is nearly as strong, as well as being slightly lighter weight and about $1.00 cheaper per 10' pipe.  The smaller you go in size, the cheaper it will be, but that starts to trade off with how rigid the goals will play.  It's also worth noting you may need to order connectors online, depending on what you find at the local hardware stores.

Step 2: Making the Cut

Once you've decided on a plan, you'll have to cut your PVC pipe down to the correct sizes.  A handsaw will work fine, although I had to substitute a hacksaw after I couldn't find mine in the garage.  It's important to make straight cuts, so that your pipe will fit nicely into the connectors, and that when you drill holes to reinforce it later you won't accidently drill past the end of the insert pipe.

Step 3: Come Together

Now that the pieces are cut, it's time to glue everything together.  I recommend putting it together without glue to make sure everything fits properly before you start.  Once it's together, pull apart a joint and put the cement on both the inside of the connector as well as the outside of the pipe.  Put the pipe in place, and make sure it is placed as far into the connector as possible.  Once you have everything glued together, double check all the joints, and let it set up for a while.

Step 4: Reinforce the Connections

After a few times playing with our new goals, the PVC glue started to fail in some of the more stressed joints.  Our first attempt to rectify this involved duck tape, which marks the only time i have ever heard of duck tape failing to fix a problem.  Tired of trying to fix the goals each time before we played, I decided some galvanized wire would permantly fix the problem.  The white duck tape over the top of the wire helps to protect hands and soccer balls from running into the pointy ends, as well as adding some style.  When drilling and connecting the wire, always run it to the backside of the goals.  If you wanted goals that you could collapse, you could also replace strategic joints with bolts that could be disassembled when you're done.

Step 5: Adding the Net

We initially just bought some cheap fish-net and cut it to the correct size and used zip ties to connect it to the PVC.  However, we quickly learned the zip ties tore through and our nets leaving them mostly useless after a couple of times playing.

More recently I came across a pretty cool project entered in the beauty contest here at Instructables and was inspired to use this technique to create a new set of net goals.  If I ever get time to create some new nets for our goals I will be sure to post some pictures.  These upgraded nets would also likely be attached using zip ties.

Step 6: Design Flaw/Fix

A few extra joints doesn't effect functionality, but it will add some cost to your project.  Instead, the flaw we noticed after several games was that occasionally a shot would hit at the top of the support bars and bounce out.  Unless you had tracked the shot, it often appeared that it had hit the crossbar and would still be in play.  Many times the shooter was the only one who could really tell whether it was a good goal or not.

If this is a problem, you can add a joint (or two) to this support bar that enables the top to go straight back at 90 degrees to help avoid in-game confusion.  You will want to do this before you glue and wire them together.  That will allow shots to hit the back of the goal which everyone should be able to easily discern. 

Step 7: Alternate Design

The alternate design pretty well explains itself.  The crossbar and back support are uncut 10' poles, the uprights and base runners are all four 5' long (two pipes cut in half.  I then cut four 6" segments to add between the base and crossbars between the 45o elbow.  That left the diagonal supports at roughly 74".  This design using 1/2" pipe cost about $16 per goal, and the nylon cord for a net was another $8.

I think the smaller pipe would work fine for kids, but teens and adults would probably want to spend a little extra and use thicker pipe.  It costs a bit more, but the extra sturdiness is well worth it.  Another advantage of this design is that by simply removing the crossbar and back support, this is very easy to store in a garage.

Step 8: Optional PVC Side Project

I had a few leftover bits of 1/2" PVC pipe, and decided they would make good corner sticks.  This inspiration came to me after taking apart a non-working solar yard light.  I realized the stake part came out easily and could be attached to the PVC pipe with a simple T-cut in the end.  Since you are sawing down be careful, I ended up with a nice little gash in the thumb for my effort.  It looks kind of like a spear at this point, you need something to show which way the wind is blowing and to make it more visible.  I simply tied a band to the top similar to the top of an NFL field goal post.  Flags are traditional for the top of the corner stick, and if you happen to have an instructable robot patch, I think it would be quite dashing in the center.  You can use anything really, part of a t-shirt, plastic garbage sack, whatever can be tied to the top and make it visible.

Step 9: Acquiring Free Supplies

PVC pipe is one of those funny items that it is possible to acquire for free from time to time.  For me, just spending the money and having all your supplies from the beginning is preferable, however Instructables is heavily trafficed by younger users, and it's probably teenagers who would be most interested in building their own goals.  Parents may also need a cheap way to help entertain their kids.  Basically, just keep your eyes open from construction sights and search craigslist every so often and you should find odds and ends from time to time.  Find enough PVC, and you have a project ready on the cheap!  I found a pretty good source of information on tracking free PVC over at PVC Workshop.

Step 10: Have Fun!

The work is done, now for the fun!  Simply take your newly constructed equipment to the nearest yard, field, even a parking lot and test out your creation(s).  Invite over some friends for maximum effect.  Batteries not included.

Hope you've enjoyed reading, this has been my 11th instructable, and unfortunetely the first of 2010.  However, it is entered in the dadcando contest, so if you liked it please remember to vote at the appropriate time.  Rating and comments are also encouraged, and I'd love to see pictures of some goals other people have constructed.  I haven't given any digital patches away, so post some pics of your own project and you will be rewarded!

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