Basketball Height: How important is it?

From the moment you played your first pickup game on the playground, basketball height mattered; the taller players were always picked first. Its common sense, the taller you are the closer you are to the hoop vertically and the harder it is for shorter players to reach you or grab rebounds over you.

Historically, it’s been widely accepted that tall people should play basketball and basketball players should be tall. So how important IS height in basketball? Do you need to be tall to be a good basketball player? If you’re short, are you wasting your time?

The answer is yes and no; basketball height is definitely a FACTOR since the hoop is 10 feet above the ground as opposed to ground level in soccer (the goal) or football (the end zone).

Players get bigger, taller, and stronger as you go from one level to the next. Height becomes more and more of a factor the higher you go (ie. High school to college to NBA). For instance, in college basketball you’ll see guards that are well below 6’0 tall. In the NBA, you’ll SELDOM see players below 6’0. This pattern typically is true for all positions.

However, there is a THRESHOLD. Though there is an average height for each position, as long as you’re tall enough, it becomes a matter of SKILL. Charles Barkley was an undersized power forward (at just under 6’5), but he became the shortest player in NBA history to lead the league in rebounding; this was because he had an all-around game. He could shoot, pass, rebound, post-up, drive, defend; he could do it all. Muggsy Bogues (5’3) and Early Boykins (5’5), the shortest NBA players ever, were (Boykins still plays) successful and effective because they both had quickness, shooting, and passing.

Oftentimes, at a young age, the tallest players play center and don’t develop all-around skills and don’t make the cut at higher levels where everyone is just as tall or taller and more skilled.

The bottom line is, no matter how tall you are, get out there and practice hard.

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