Why are Basketball Players so Tall? The Truth Revealed

Have you ever wondered why basketball players are so tall? Watching those giants grab the basketball by their big hand as if it was like a small ball, they play fetch with their dog is just unbelievable for most ordinary folks.

It seems too easy whenever they do that slam dunk showdown because they’re incredibly tall.

The main reason basketball players are so tall is that their height comes with many advantages. So, tall guys can easily make it into professional leagues with the right blend of skill, passion, potential, and hard work. Also, leagues actively seek those with tall genes.

Why are Basketball Players so Tall?

With determination and hard work, it’s possible to achieve your dream weight and figure. But just how much can you do with your height? We know for sure that’s something we have little control.

So, you might be thinking, “Why are basketball players so tall? Why are these NBA guys looking like giants in real life? Where did they get all that height that ordinary people cannot seem to achieve?”

Well, blame it on genetics. It’s innate and impossible to alter.

Because being tall is an advantage in the sport, basketball leagues are always on the hunt for those who have been generously blessed with genes that possess incredible height.

That’s why we see that many basketball players are so tall.

Of course, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Passion for basketball and potential are essential factors that leagues look for.

But aside from genetic makeup, lifestyle practices also contribute to basketball players’ increased height, especially if they started training for the sport when they were young. As athletes, basketball players follow a strict diet, exercise, and sleep hygiene regimen.

Staying active, eating a well-balanced diet, getting the right amount of sleep each night, maintaining proper posture, and doing specific forms of exercise can help one to maximize his full height potential.

Some basketball players also took growth supplements when they were younger, which somehow helped them grow taller. There isn’t enough scientific evidence that these supplements are indeed effective. So, think of it as a caution when you come across claims that a specific growth supplement helps increase one’s height.

Do You Need to be Tall to be a Basketball Player?

Basketball player jumping

You have a massive advantage in basketball if you’re tall. But that alone doesn’t give you an automatic pass into the league. Height isn’t a requirement.

Instead, you need to prove your skill and ability to get in.

And honing the skills needed for the sport doesn’t take a short while. It takes years of proper training, conditioning, and practice.

Shorter players can also excel in basketball.

There are even unique benefits that come with their shorter stature. For example, most shorter players are more lightweight than their towering colleagues.

Thus, they can run and dribble faster and stay agile in the game. They can also create unique opportunities for open shots and avoid the tall defenders of the opposing team. Most of the time, the shortest player plays a crucial role in their team as the point guard, the best ball handler, and the coach on the go.

Surprisingly, too, there is no height requirement in NBA. The set rules and regulations don’t specify a minimum or maximum height requirement for players, as long as they can show they have what it takes to be part of the league.

Hard to believe? NBA’s long history shows that there are famous shorter players who made a name for themselves. Tyrone Muggsy Bogues is only 5 feet and 3 inches tall!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Tall Basketball Player

tall and short person arguing

If there’s no height requirement to play basketball, then here we go again with why basketball players are so tall?

Being tall has a lot of advantages not only in basketball but in many other sports and daily life situations in general.

Advantages of Being a Tall Basketball Player

What then are the specific advantages of being a tall basketball player?

1. More Accurate Shots

Basketball hoops are 10-feet high from the ground. This is one of the main reasons being tall is an advantage in basketball. The taller you are, the closer you get to the basket, especially with excellent jumping.

As a result, you get more accurate shots. Plus, you can even perfect that slam dunk! When your height can compete against giant defenders from the opposing team, there’s minimized risk of them snagging the ball away from you when you attempt to shoot.

2. Makes a Good Center

You can be instantly chosen as the center when you’re the tallest among your team and are remarkable at playing either in the defense or offense. Thanks to your longer wingspan and reach, it will be easier to block shots from the opposing team and grab rebounds.

3. You Have Longer Strides

There’s a lot of running involved in basketball, and you need to be very quick. You can quickly advance the ball with longer strides when playing an offensive position.

Disadvantages of Being a Tall Basketball Player

While these advantages are hard to pass up, are there any cons? Yes, there are. For example, taller players may lose speed and agility.

Shorter players who are lightweight are usually known for their speed. Compared to them, taller players may need to exert more force to propel themselves forward.

In addition, they could be clumsier at times. Thus, taller players need to work on their balance and coordination constantly.

Exercises to Become Taller

Genetic factors account for 60 to 80 percent of our maximum height. And as mentioned, we have no control over that. But this also means that we can do something about the remaining percentage of lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise.

Regular exercise at the right amount and intensity helps strengthen bones and muscles. This is essential to growth. Furthermore, regular exercise promotes human growth hormone (HGH) production.

If you’re still young and currently at an age when you’ve not yet reached your final height, what are some of the exercises you can do to become taller? Also, note that school-aged kids need an hour of exercise per day. This is essential for their growth.

Here are some of the exercises you can focus on:

  • Strength-building exercises

Examples are: Sit-ups, push-ups, mountain climbers, plank

  • Flexibility exercises

Examples: gymnastics, some stretches like cobra stretch, cat-cow pose, and child’s pose

  • Aerobic training

Examples: Running, swimming, jump rope exercises, biking

Even as adults who have reached our final height, we can still get so much benefit from regular exercise. Poor posture can negatively impact our bone structure in the long run, affecting our height. Regular proper exercise minimizes that risk.

What is the Average Height of an NBA Player?

When you watch a live NBA game, you can’t help but wonder, “Exactly how tall are these hardcourt giants?”

To give you a clear picture, an American adult male’s average height falls between 5 feet and 9 ½ inches.

The average height of an NBA player is around 6 feet and 6 to 7 inches tall.

And that’s no surprise—we’ve seen many seven-foot players grace the hardcourt too!

Why are Chinese Basketball Players so Tall?

If you’ve been following NBA for many years now, the names Yao Ming, Wang Zhizhi, Mengke Bateer, and Yi Jianlian probably ring a bell. And who wouldn’t remember them?

With an average height of 7 feet, they’re some of the unexpectedly tallest Chinese NBA players. Yao Ming and Wang Zhizhi are even a few inches taller! So, why are Chinese basketball players so tall?

People have always thought that Chinese people are generally short.

But when you visit Beijing, you might be surprised to come across incredibly tall people. Nowadays, many Chinese are over six feet tall, and there are even some who are seven feet tall.

They attribute the dramatic increase in height to the overall improvement in people’s health and nutrition over the years.

Top 10 Tallest NBA Players of All Time

Wondering who are the tallest NBA players in history? Here’s a handy list.

NBA PlayerHeight
1. Gheorghe Muresan
Career: 1993-2000; Washington Bullets, New Jersey Nets
2. Manute Bol
Career: 1985-1995; Washington Bullets, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat
3. Shawn Bradley
Career: 1993-2005; Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Dallas Mavericks
4. Slavko Vranes
Career: 2003-2004; Portland Trail Blazers
5. Yao Ming
Career: 2002-2011; Houston Rockets
6. Chuck Nevitt
Career: 1982-1994; Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs
7. Pavel Podkolzin
Career: 2004-2006; Dallas Mavericks
8. Tacko Fall
Career: 2019-current; Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers
9. Sim Bhullar
Career: 2014-2015; Sacramento Kings
10. Boban Marjanovic
Career: 2015-current; San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks

Final Thoughts

Height is an advantage in Basketball, mainly because you’ll be playing against generally very tall people.

However, that doesn’t mean height is the be-all and end-all in this sport. Even those with shorter stature can succeed with skill, hard work, and perseverance.

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