Here’s Why Basketball Players Are So Tall

Did you know that the average NBA basketball player is 6 feet 6 inches tall? That’s 9 inches taller than the average man in the US (5 feet 9 inches)

That’s a shocking difference and we’ll dive into the possible reasons why basketball players are so much taller than the average person. Here’s a quick explanation.

Why Basketball Players Are Tall

Most basketball players, especially at the NBA and NCAA levels, are genetically gifted individuals. While there are lots of contributing factors to how tall a person can grow, genetics is the main factor. In short, basketball players are tall because their mothers and fathers are tall.

A good example of this is the late Manute Bol, who at 7 feet 7 inches was one of the tallest players in NBA history. Did genetics play a role in his height? Yep!

Bol’s father was 6 feet 8 inches and his mother was even taller at 6 feet 10 inches. In addition, Bol’s great-grandfather was nearly 8 feet tall! Bol was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1985 and ended up playing 12 years of professional basketball.

How Height Benefits Basketball Players

Height gives basketball players a distinct advantage on the court. Though shorter players like Muggsy Bogues (who is only 5 feet 3 inches) have proven that height isn’t everything, there’s no denying that taller players have an edge. Here are some of the built-in advantages that tall players have.

1. Makes it Easier to Dunk

Height makes it easier for basketball players to dominate above the rim. A center who is 7-foot tall with long limbs can usually dunk the ball with ease. On the other hand, dunking is much more difficult for a 6-foot tall point guard with shorter arms.

2. Can Create Open Jump Shots

Taller players can use their height to create more open looks at the basket. Even if a defender is guarding him, a taller player can jump high enough to create his own open jump shot. Kevin Durant, who is 6-foot 10 inches, does this incredibly well for the Brooklyn Nets.

3. Distinct Rebounding Edge

Height can help a basketball player grab more rebounds. Usually, a tall player has longer limbs, which helps him get to the ball quicker than players of average height. While there are exceptions to the rule (Charles Barkley), most great rebounders are extremely tall individuals.

4. Can Block More Shots

A tall defender can block a lot of shots. This helps out the defense tremendously because it can result in some turnovers. One of the best NBA shot blockers was Yao Ming, who was 7-foot 6 inches and had a giant wingspan.

5. Easier to Get Up and Down the Court

Taller players tend to get up and down the court faster than shorter players. This is because they have much longer legs and can take longer strides.

Can Playing Basketball Make You Taller?

No, playing basketball cannot directly make you taller. However, there are some indirect variables of basketball that may help a person reach their maximum height. Let’s look at those variables below.

How Basketball Players Grow Tall

1. Regular Exercise

A solid exercise routine helps young basketball players grow taller. This is because, during intense physical activity, growth hormone is increased. Growth hormone (also referred to as GH) is responsible for muscle growth and increases in height.

There have been studies that show how lots of sprinting increases growth hormone production. Obviously, a great deal of sprinting takes place during basketball games and practices. Keep this in mind the next time you start dreading the suicides at the end of practice!

Most basketball players also engage in some type of serious weight training workout program. This has been proven to stimulate testosterone and growth hormone, which may lead to growth spurts in younger players.

2. Balanced Diet

Great basketball players are meticulous about what they put into their bodies. They always make sure to eat enough protein, slow-burning carbs, and healthy fats. They also make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

This type of balanced diet gives them the nutrients they need to perform well on the court and it can also lead to an increase in height. You won’t see great basketball players simply filling up on junk food, at least not regularly.

3. Vitamins and Other Growth Supplements

Getting an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals is crucial for all basketball players, especially if they are still in their childhood years. Any type of vitamin deficiency could limit a child or teenager’s growth spurt.

For that reason, all basketball players, regardless of age, should take a good vitamin supplement. College and professional basketball players tend to also use protein powders, creatine, and other growth supplements.

4. Getting Plenty of Sleep

Did you know that the body cannot grow without an adequate amount of rest? All of the training, eating, and vitamins won’t help a basketball player grow without a sound sleeping routine. Growth hormone reaches its peak levels during sleep and this helps a person reach their maximum height. 

Just how much should basketball players sleep? While most folks can get by on six or seven hours, basketball players need anywhere from eight to ten hours of sleep each night. The University of Stanford did a study that showed that increasing a basketball player’s sleep to ten hours per night helped improve their sprinting and shooting abilities.

To get the best night’s sleep possible, players should make sure their room is as dark as possible. It’s also a good idea to have the temperature in the bedroom under 70 degrees and to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

5. Practicing Good Posture

We all tend to get annoyed at our mothers when they tell us to sit up straight and don’t slouch. However, her advice may help you grow taller, especially if you haven’t reached full adulthood. Slouching compresses the spine, which could end up limiting how tall a person can grow.

According to FindHealthTips, you can increase your height by one to two inches just by practicing good posture! You do this by sitting up straight with both feet on the floor when in a sitting position. Also, don’t sleep on a bed that’s too soft or use a pillow that is too high.

6. Hanging

Did you know that hanging can cause an increase in height? Sure, it sounds like a gimmick but it’s true! Hanging decreases the amount of pressure on a person’s spine, which helps them reach their full height potential.

What exactly is hanging? It’s an intense form of stretching that, over time, lengthens the spine. Keep in mind though, that you must do these hanging stretches on a regular basis to see any type of increase in height.

Hanging is great for basketball players because it’s easy to do and all they need is a bar that can support their body weight. Experts advise folks to hang for 30 seconds and then rest. You’ll want to complete six of these repetitions to get the maximum effect.

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Mike Noblin

Mike has been involved with basketball for over 30 years as a player, coach, and bettor. He has a degree in Sports Psychology and enjoys following both the NBA and College Basketball on a nightly basis.