The start of the olympics is a good occasion to check the most suitable sports for adults. Whether it is for children right in the middle of their growth, or for adults wishing to avoid sports that are less suitable for them, we’ve done the leg work for you.
To do this, Wetall has drawn up a table that allows you to compare the main sports at a glance in order to know whether or not they are suitable for tall people. It should be noted, however, that this table is only meant to help and that passion must prevail when it comes to choosing a sports activity. We simply suggest giving good points to sports in which a tall person will have fewer constraints, or even have advantages! Sports with two Xs mean that there may be differences with regard to the playing positions of the sport in question. The table below is limited to the most popular sports and should help you find your way around.
Comparative table of sports suitable for tall people
|Sport||Not adapted||Unsuitable||Neutral||Adapted||Very suitable||Comments|
|Athletics||X||Very good for child development and adult physical maintenance.|
|High jump||X||X||Very suitable for light builders.
Many champions are tall.
|Running||X||Especially if “lightweight”.|
|Long jump||X||Favourable if sharpened.|
|Shot put/discus/javelin||X||Interesting because of the length.|
|Baseball||X||There are some greats in MLB, but it’s not a proven advantage to be one.|
|Basket-ball||X||Excellent sport for tall people|
|Beach-volley||X||Very suitable for tall people.|
|Volley-ball||X||Same as above|
|Football||X||Some players and goals are very tall. Not particularly an asset.|
|American football||X||In some positions this can be an asset.|
|Handball||X||X||In some positions it can be a good asset too.|
|Ice Hockey||X||Not especially an asset, possibly to be a keeper.|
|Rugby||X||X||Very interesting in some positions.|
|Water-polo||X||A sport that is less practiced than many others, it is nonetheless very complete and interesting for tall people.|
|Gymnastics||X||X||Very interesting to build a strong and flexible body when you are young, but very complicated later because of the total mass.|
|Badminton||X||Large segments allow for greater coverage of the terrain.|
|Squash||X||Speed game not suitable for heavier people.|
|Tennis||X||Especially if you are good at service.|
|Table tennis||X||More and more of the big ones are good, the long segments help.|
|Road cycling||X||This is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage (unless the bike does not fit).|
|Mountain bike||X||Same as above|
|Track Cycling||X||Few tall ones. The most prominent sizes are more small bulldogs|
|Aikido||X||The pacifist philosophy might appeal to many tall people, but effective application of the techniques will be complicated even after years of practice.|
|Capoeira||X||The very low circular movements are not suitable for tall people|
|Ju-Jitsu||X||More length means more possibilities|
|Ju-Jitsu brésilien||X||Same as above|
|Judo||X||Many great champions like Teddy are tall.|
|Karate||X||The extension offers a clear advantage to tall people.|
|Kendo||X||The same applies to the length.|
|Taekwondo||X||Very interesting for tall people. Many champions are tall.|
|Kung-fu Wushu||X||The long reach is an advantage.|
|English Boxing||X||All current heavyweight champions are huge. Valuable reach|
|Kickboxing||X||Very interesting extension.|
|Bobsleigh||X||You have to get into a small Bobsleigh quickly…|
|Figure skating||X||Size not conducive to the execution of acrobatic figures|
|Speed skating||X||Few champions are tall.|
|Bodybuilding||X||There are more and more large|
|Olympic weightlifting||X||The long segments are a disadvantage in view of the movements involved.|
|Powerlifing||X||The champions are getting bigger and bigger.|
|Climbing||X||Long segments can help, provided they are not too heavy.|
|Rowing||X||Very complete sport and adapted to the long segments of the tall ones.|
|Canoeing and Kayaking||X||Neutral|
|Swimming||X||Very interesting. Especially for tall people with a large body (bust).|
|Surf||X||Bigger means harder to balance.|
|Cross-country skiing||X||Long segments can be a plus|
|Ski jumping||X||To be avoided. Common templates at the opposite end of the scale|
This shows that some sports are fully suitable for tall people:
- High jump
- Beach volleyball
- Water polo
- Kung fu wushu
- Full contact
- English boxing
Let’s zoom in on these sports to explain how they are suitable for tall people.
Why do high jumps when you’re tall?
The high jump is a discipline derived from athletics which consists of jumping over a bar. The world’s best often jump over 2m30 and the record is 2m45. It is held by the Cuban Javier Sotomayor (see the jump here). This sport is adapted to tall people because the goal is to go as high as possible, in fact it is an advantage to be already higher than the others. On the other hand, it is better to be slender so as not to penalise yourself in the flight. The majority of high jumpers are over 1m90. Some even exceed 2m. This sport is therefore recommended for tall people 🙂
Why play basketball when you’re tall?
When someone of normal height meets a tall person, their first question is often “do you play basketball? “. Just because most basketball players are tall does not mean that most tall people are basketball players. Basically, just because thumbs are fingers doesn’t mean fingers are thumbs. Apart from that, basketball has many advantages for tall people. It offers a great school of life, an ideal place of integration when you are young, and we know that youth does not always rhyme with joy when you are tall. CF the film Tall Girl. Playing basketball when you are tall can have many advantages on the court, and it can have repercussions at all levels, socially, academically, professionally, etc. I can only recommend to all tall young people to at least try. And for adults who want to discover this sport later on, it is never too late! In basketball, inches are an undeniable advantage and winning is always a pleasure. Even if the important thing is to participate 😉
Why play volleyball when you’re tall?
Like basketball and for more or less similar reasons, volleyball is an excellent sport for tall people. They will find a suitable place and feel accepted in an environment where they will be useful. In addition, the risk of injury is lower than in basketball. As an example, the average height of the volleyball players in the French national team is 1m97 compared to 1m99 for basketball players.
Why play handball when you’re tall?
Handball is a very popular sport in our country. Few countries, except perhaps Germany or Iceland, have such a passion for this relatively recent sport. The sport has changed a lot since then, has become more professional and the sizes have changed. Today it is recommended to be tall and strong to be a good handball player, especially when you are a pivot. Many players are over 2m10. A future article will present the tallest players in this sport.
Why play rugby when you’re tall?
Rugby, with its traditions and rigour, is a great school of life. It is better to start young but tall players are always useful, especially in certain positions. The second or third row are generally the tallest and many players over 2m are currently at the World Cup in Japan. The tallest players in history are even over 2m10!
Why play water polo when you’re tall?
Water polo does not enjoy the popularity of other more “media” team sports, but it is still a superb sport requiring incredible physical skills of all kinds. Being tall in water polo offers certain advantages. The long segments offer more range in passing, shooting or even saving if you are a goalkeeper. The evolution of the sport has resulted in many players being taller than 2 metres.
Why do martial arts and combat sports when you’re tall?
Having a longer reach is a major advantage in martial arts and combat sports. It allows you to control the distance better and to decrease your chances of being hit. It is not without reason that many current champions are very tall. Here is a non-exhaustive list of great champions:
- Nicolay Valuev, English boxing (2m13-7 feet).
- The Klitshko brothers, English boxing (1m98/2m01-6’6/6’7).
- Deontay Wilder, English boxing (2m01- 6’7).
- Tyson Fury, English boxing (2m06-6’9, undefeated). Read the article Tyson Fury, the giant boxer…
- Anthony Joshua, English boxing (1m98-6’6).
- Lennox Lewis, English boxing (1m96-6’5).
- Semy Schilt, Karate/Footfighting (2m13-7 feet).
- Stipe Miocic, Mixed Martial Arts (1m93-6’4).
- Teddy Riner, Judo (2m04-6’4).
- Andrei Karenine, Greek-Roman Wrestling (1m91-6’3).
Only the great champions have been listed, there are many others and countless even greater professionals, we will discover them in future articles.
Why row when you’re tall?
Rowing is a wonderful sport that is practiced in the open water. Its main attraction for tall people can be summed up mechanically: tall people have long legs, so they have more range of motion and therefore more distance per stroke on the water. In addition, unlike most endurance sports, they are not impacted by their weight because they are on the water. In fact, they have a greater muscle mass which develops more energy. Of course this is an advantage on paper, because behind it all the endurance has to follow 😉 Most Olympic rowers are over 6 feet tall. Readers who want to know more can check this link on the subject.
Why swim when you’re tall?
The 1990s saw the emergence of freaks of nature in the pools (like Ian Thorpe and his size 18). A size revolution ensued and today the majority of champions are tall (except for the “long distance” races). Being tall is a great advantage for swimmers. Firstly, like rowing, they are not affected by their weight in the water, which is not the case for a runner or cyclist. Secondly, the swimmer has an above-average lever arm. And if they have a large trunk, which gives them good lift or buoyancy in the water, you have the perfect sprinter. For example, the average height of the American gold medal swimmer in Rio in the 4 x 100m was 6’6. Also in 2016, the average height of all Olympic swimmers (sprint and long distance) was 1m88
We have presented our views on the most suitable sports for tall people. Again, this is a presentation based on logical and mechanical reasoning, there is no personal preference in this presentation. It is therefore very important for you to play a sport that you enjoy above all else. But, for those who do not know what to choose, and who have no preconceived ideas about certain sports, you might as well choose the sports that offer the most advantages in practice. Note also that each sport has its share of exceptions, such as Usain Bolt for sprinting (1m96/6’4) or François d’Haene for trail running (1m92/6’3)
Martial artists will also be happy to find large kimonos.
And finally, those who wish to do so will be able to see the size of the latest participants in the Rio Olympic Games via this page.
Do you agree with these sport recommendations?
Let us know in the comments or by sending us a message.
Thank you all for your loyalty and enthusiasm, have a great start to the new sports season and see you soon on Wetall!
Bonus gift: the summary infographic of the best sports for tall people: