T Nation

Height and Athletic Ambition


Here we go. What I'm wondering is if there's any truth to the hypothesis that tall men will be less likely to have athletic ambitions than average or short men? A reason why this could be is due to their large height (like something 6'3/190cm and far up) they expect and are used to having it easier in the male hierarchy and mating game.

Deep inside,humans are still animals and respond to this kind of thing. There are subtle hints about the inferiority of the short and the superiority of the tall in everyday language,which has passed people's eyes without being regarded as hateful or discriminatory).
So perhaps a lot of taller men are happy sitting on their height and therefore a fair amount of athletic talent is lost.

Now if one looks at track and field,strength sports,martial arts etc. then one can see that particularly large height is not necessarily required. And a closer look will reveal that many world record holders (or the equivalents) in several sports are actually average height or only moderately tall,despite the theoretical superiority of the very tall in providing greater leverage for striking,throwing etc. or increased stride distance,less distance to make when jumping and so forth.

Inferior coordination (difficulty with managing longer limbs) has been stated as one reason discouraging the success of the very tall in sports such as the discus where height is called for.

The one sport most people think of height wise is basketball although it is arguable that in a sport like basketball skill can more easily trump height than in many invidual sports. For example,it would be a relatively enormous feat for a midget to make two meters in the high jump while a hypothetical giant could just step over the bar. A short person can still outwit a taller player and throw the ball through the hoop just fine.

Of course it has to be remembered that most people converge towards a certain average in physical development, so there are going to be more average'ish people than very large ones and so it may be argued that regardless of ambition,the sheer number of the shorter people will overcome the theoretically advantaged but smaller group.

I think I covered a lot of the necessary ground there. What do you say?


Dude, don't worry. Being short is not the end of the world.


I say you overthought this concept. One could argue that tall people have more athletic ambition than short because they already have an advantage and seek to take advantage of it. Tall people are better at some things than short people and vice versa.


Tall people are better. Get over it.


I don't think he's hating on tall people as his profile says he's 6'.


He's a dwarf trapped in tall guys body.

Damn body dysmorphia!!


My threads have a way of encountering resistance or indifference.


Agreed. I think it kind of goes both ways. Now to illustrate my point again; who do you think faces more pressure (regardless of natural interest) to bodybuild, the tall or the short man? I think the answer is obvious. Thus one additional reason why many succesful bodybuilders are not skyscraping, although a lot of people would agree the taller bodybuilder would look more impressive. A truly tall man will not have to worry about being called small even if he's a beanpole.

I think it's possible that in caveman time,height was more a predictor of hierarchy than it is now. Say food was scarce, people would be set at a size determined by genetics and the little food they get. There was no bodybuilding back then. No 300 pound under six foot bodybuilder to equal out a skinny seven footer. And so in the mind of the primitive man height became an important determinator of status,more so than width.
Look at people like Tom Cruise. He has a huge precense in the world but he's a little bit below average height and men of more modest achievements will be seen cracking dismissive comments about him because of his stature,despite his achievements.


I think that what it comes down to more, is the desire to succeed, no matter what disadvantages that you may have.

Plus, I don't think that there's very many people that think, "I'm six foot seven, so I should play basketball". You either love it or you don't.


Yeah, but a midget who sucks probably won't have much fun on the court, while a giant who can dunk from the middle of it probably will.


I have been tall my whole life. I've always been the tallest kid in my grade, sometimes the tallest kid in the school. I topped out at just under 6'5, which is not absurd, but it is solidly above-average.

I was never an athlete superstar stud(though I did grab all the rebounds in blacktop hoops, which always meant something), I am not particularly intelligent(don't think I'm dumb, but I'm nothing exceptional). I was never great with girls, and I grew up being relatively shy.

As much as being tall can be an advantage, I think that it can just as well be an inhibition. If you are tall and uncoordinated, or tall and lanky. Your chances of being picked on are just as good as if you are short and ugly.

Any outlier runs the risk of being ostracized for their uniqueness. Even if that uniqueness is something that we think of as being positive(beauty, intelligence, athletic prowess...etc.)

Basically, if you stand out at the extreme, your ability to relate with your peers can be compromised, which can lead to a host of other issues.

It is not uncommon for naturally 'beautiful' people to have the worst self esteem problems. Or for very naturally bright kids to be alienated from their peer groups. Or even for talented athletes, who can succumb to borderline psychotic competitive desire, which can mess a person up if they don't win.

No genetic advantage is going to take the place of having the right mindset, the right work ethic, and the right attitude. The elite performers in the world tend to be the rarest combination of naturally gifted paired with socially mature. They also are almost always blessed with extraordinary circumstances and surroundings.

Also, being above 6'3 is not a cakewalk. The world was not really made with people 6'4 and up in mind.


Have you SEEN Luke Walton play recently? I'm pretty sure that is exactly what he thought.


The other point about this topic that I have thought about is. How many kids love Basketball, but will never grow to be 6' or even 5'10? Plenty. How fortunate was Michael Jordan that he miraculously grew from 5'11 to 6'6 later in his life, after most kids had stopped growing.

It is pretty astounding really, to think that Kobe Bryant, despite being raised a basketball player since he was born, could have never ended up being as tall as he is. Sure, he might have still excelled(Nate Robinson, Spud Webb, Allen Iverson...etc.)

But it is still pretty incredible that it just so happened the consummate basketball prodigy happened to also end up being big enough to compete in the NBA.

Just some food for thought.


I resent that.

Seriously. How many of you guys want to be the ones who can see over the stalls in the bathroom? Now everyone knows when you're the one taking a shit at work. No lovely comfort zone behind that stall door when you're standing up, now. How would that make you feel? Huh? Huh???


Hm, I've always been tall. While I never grew up playing sports, when I was 12 I started playing hockey just for shits and by the time I was 17 I was being scouted by NHL teams. By that time I also was standing at about 6'3''

I believe that height has absolutely nothing to do with athletic desire. Some people like to compete in sports, others don't. It's up to the person themselves, not their height genetics.


Just get involved in youth sports. You'll see tons of kids who dominate in U12/13/14 or so until they stop growing and suddenly everybody catches up to them. About .001% of these kids happen to keep growing and they become the NBA players.

I've been involved in volleyball (coaching and playing) for a while and I can't tell you how many kids we've had in our club who are among the best players in the state in their age group in 6th or 7th grade and by the time they get to 11th grade they might not even be starting on the varsity team at their high school. Kinda sad actually.

The kids who wind up being superstars (by that I mean high-level D1 players) are usually kids who grow up totally loving the sport and just happen to develop the physical skills necessary.

Either that or they just have such freakish athletic skills that they don't start playing until 11th grade and it doesn't matter because they could go D1 in whatever sport they choose.


Being a shorter guy myself 5'8 and a half or so. What has given me the advantage in sports is strength and speed. For my lack of height, i have high level strength and speed (thank god) lol.
But that's what has helped me in sports, strength and speed..and I'm an athletic guy, and pickup on things easily/fast.

My sport is muay thai where long limbs definaetly help, but fighting a guy 6'2 does not bug me at all. Sure it is easier to fight someone my height, or even a tad taller. But 6'2 doesn't bug me. It's when you start fighting guys 6'4 the game changes big time. But I almost KO'ed a guy 6'4 in my 2nd muay thai fight. He also was 29, and me being 19.

And had more experience than me. Like I said my love for muay thai, and desire to succeed has helped me. And having good sterngth and power in kicks and punches defiantly helps. If I couldn't put the hurt on, I might not be as effective. But my skills keep improving with literally everyclass I feel I've improved.

In the end, it'd be helpful if I was taller. Will I grow a bit more height? Perhaps I will grow a bit taller, but who knows. if I do I can't see it being more than an inch or 2..but I'll take 5'10..the new mike tyson haha. Or was he 5'11?


It has more to do with than just height. When i was in highschool i played basketball with two twin brothers who were about an inch or so taller than me and i'm 6'3". They were both uncoordinated and sucked. They could get rebounds but that was about it. I am very coordinated and have a great jump shot. I think part of it has to do with genetics while the other part is how much dedication and practice you put into it.

On another note, i love being tall.


Im 5'6 so I knew I was never going to succeed in Basketball or Football being so small.

I never really bothered joining any organized sports. I just play with my friends whenever I have the time.


I think we have the same life...twin?