Looking for a great sport for your tall son OR daughter other than basketball?
There are very tall children out there who don’t like their height. Some hate it, especially girls, since it’s more unusual for girls to be the tallest in their class than boys.
How do you get your self-conscious, very tall child to embrace her height?
Really Good Sports for Very Tall Kids
Sometimes parents will urge them to play basketball. But extra height doesn’t mean a natural knack for ball handling or making distant shots.
It also doesn’t predispose a person to having an intrinsic passion and joy for basketball. Height is a huge advantage for those who love the sport, but is only one element of the big picture.
So if basketball has not worked out for your tall child, don’t give up, as there are many other sports for which extra height is a big advantage – combined with a love for the sport and proper training.
Baseball. For boys, of course. A tall player has a better chance at bat because long arms produce more torque when swinging a bat (think of how much easier it is to loosen a tight bolt with a long wrench vs. a short one). A longer arm means a better reach for balls.
Cycling. Though height is not an advantage, since competitive cyclists use custom designed bikes, it’s also not a disadvantage.
Discus. Torque is a major factor here. This is why most Olympic discus throwers are quite tall. The discus throw is part of track and field, and kids can have plenty of opportunity to train as early as middle school.
Football. There’s a reason why most football players are over six feet.
High jump. There’s no way around it: Height is a crucial factor in success, especially as kids get older (and competition stiffens). It’s common for Olympic female high jumpers to be at least 6-4.
Hurdling. Height will help a child who, along with a natural gift for speed and proper coaching, more easily clear the hurdles in a race.
Long jump. Height will clearly help, as long as other components that make a fast sprinter are in place.
Martial arts. Though height is not a big advantage, it’s also never a disadvantage. In martial arts competition sparring, novice and intermediate ranked kids will find that towering over their opponent is a big advantage.
But as skill level increases, they will also find that shorter opponents have learned to compensate for their stature.
Ping-pong. A taller player won’t always win a game, but let’s face it, it sure helps to be able to lean over the table further than your shorter opponent can, as well as make side reaches for the ball.
Powerlifting. Height is neither an advantage nor disadvantage. In powerlifting competitions, all heights are represented for the bench press, squat and deadlift events.
Racquet sports—any. The argument for better court coverage is sound, though ratio of fast twitch muscle fibers to slow twitch fibers heavily weighs into court speed.
Note that most champion tennis players are tall, though not exceptionally. Long arms help with serves and reaches.
Rowing. Can you say torque? Longer arms are better at pulling at the oars. This is why many Olympic female rowers are at least 5-10. The caveat is that the opportunities for competitive rowing are not plentiful, especially for grade school kids.
Shot put. It’s torque again. Most Olympic shot putters are quite tall. Extra height, as in discus, becomes increasingly relevant as the child gets older – and competition gets tougher.
Of course, having a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers helps (this is an inborn ratio and cannot be altered).
Softball. Torque helps, as in baseball. Ever wonder why most collegiate female softball pitchers are at least 5-8? Tall girls also have an advantage covering bases.
Swimming. What’s interesting here is that body proportions heavily play a role. Being tall helps reduce number of strokes, and at the end of a race, that extra reach can mean a first place finish.
However, a very tall swimmer who’s “all legs” isn’t going to do too well, because a long-leg, short-torso build will create a lot of drag.
A negative index (arms shorter than overall height) will make things worse.
An equally tall swimmer who has an endless torso and short legs (and especially a positive index) will have a big advantage over her teammate.
Volleyball. Many body types and limb/torso proportions can excel, but for girls who love this sport and know how to play, being extra tall will always help.
Wrestling. There are short, medium and tall wrestlers of high skill levels.
“I think it’s extremely important for all children to find an outlet that allows them to express creativity and explore talents,” says Dr. Bande Virgil, MD, a board certified pediatrician, professor of clinical pediatrics, and Amazon Best Selling Contributing Author of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats.” Her latest book is “A Teaspoon of Honey; Parenting in the New Millennium.” Her website is themommydoc.com.
“Young ladies who are taller tend to gravitate towards sports like basketball or volleyball where height can be advantageous,” continues Dr. Virgil.
“They can also consider activities like dance where length helps define the movements.
“Largely what I find is being in the company of other children who understand and can experience the unique journey of being tall helps normalize the experience for girls who are unique in this way.”
The above list is not complete; there are other sports such as bowling and archery which many enthusiasts would consider ideal sports for very tall teens and younger children.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.