With the Olympics assaulting TV screens around the globe, kids and adults alike are finding themselves being inspired to get off the sofa and try out a sport themselves. Yet TV sports can also damage confidence: anybody under 6ft may feel a little apprehensive about playing basketball because they think it’s only for tall people. If you’re considering playing a sport for fun but are unsure whether you’ll do well because of your height, then here is a guide to some the the Olympic sports you could try – and where height factors in.


Swimmers come in all shapes and sizes, but taller swimmers tend to be better – Michael Phelps being the obvious example. That does not mean that shorter people don’t make good swimmers, it is simply that people with longer legs and arms can move through the water faster. Certain other body characteristics are also preferable. Ye Shiwen, who smashed the world record in London, was picked up to swim as a child because of her unusually large hands and feet.


So many young people see gymnastics on TV and rush out to join clubs. While becoming an elite usually takes training from childhood, it’s also something fun to pick up later on.

When it comes to women’s gymnastics, short is almost always better. In the sport tiny athletes tend to have a better size-to-strength ratio and small bodies are easy to flip around in the air. The small stature of gymnasts is endemic, with most female gymnasts coming in at 5ft 2’ or smaller. The tallest gymnastics Olympian, Svetlana Khorkina, only stood at 5ft 5’. Khorkina was exceptionally tall for the sport, but that difference made her great as she had to adapt many of the moves to her taller body, making her an innovative athlete.

Some have commented that the change in gymnastics ‘code of points’ scoring method has helped smaller and younger athletes. While the most successful Olympic gymnast ever Larisa Latynina competed in 3 Olympics, won gold while pregnant and competed up until the age of 30, many gymnasts nowadays retired at age 18.


There’s a place for people of all heights in football, but height can also help in picking a position. Taller individuals make great goalkeepers and defenders, whereas shorter people may feel more comfortable in midfield. Heights of footballers tend to correlate with average height, but there are some exceptions. Lionel Messi for example, errs on the short side at 5ft 5’ some say he even wears altitude shoes.  And then, of course there is Peter Crouch being at the taller end of 6ft 7’.


If you’re tall, then sprinting might just be for you. A narrow frame and long legs will help you power through your run quickly, making sure that your speed is tip top. If you’re average or below average, then you might want to try your hand at distance running. Distance runners simply need endurance and to be able to carry their frame across a distance. Low legs helps with this, giving shorter runners a slight advantage.


Rowers tend to be tall and long-limbed, but not excessively so. Both men and women Olympic rowers tend to be above 6ft on average. However one must remember that height may give you an advantage, but it doesn’t mean that smaller rowers can’t be good. With a little training and power in your muscles, you could be rowing fast in no time.