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Growth Spurts and Alternative Sports for Tall Teens

At some point in our lives, we have all considered the pros and cons of our height. Can I
reach that biscuit tin that my parents hid on the top shelf? Does it give me an advantage in my
sport? Am I too tall enough for [insert person or problem here]?

During adolescence, individuals are susceptible to major physical and mental changes, with
skeletal growth being one of the most externally noticeable. Maybe the biscuit tin empties a
lot faster now your child has grown…

Although everyone is different and the occurrence of teenage growth spurts may vary, a
major growth spurt during puberty often occurs between ages 8-13 years in girls and between
ages 9.5-14 in boys.

During a teenager’s growth spurt, a period of incoordination is likely to occur, particularly in boys. This period of incoordination, initiated by the brain having to adjust to a new centre of gravity, may lead an individual struggling to performance in tasks that require balance. Individuals are often labelled as ‘clumsy’ in this period of time. This typically lasts 6 months and can often be a contributing factor in affecting a child’s confidence within sport and their motivations to drop out or change sport.

If you have a child who is growing, keen to maintain their participation in sport and is looking to explore where they can use their height to their full advantage, this blog aims to offer suggestions for sports that are suitable for tall teens.

Sport 1: Volleyball

I (Elliot) have been playing volleyball for 4 months and I can tell you being tall helps a lot! The average height of male professional volleyball players usually falls between 177-208cm, while for women it ranges between 167-195cm.

The players located closest to the net are often the tallest as they are used to attack (spike) and to block. Power can be generated from long arms and those who are tall are often capable of jumping higher than the net, therefore are able to direct the ball towards the floor and increase their likelihood of gaining points.

If your child is tall and has a background in sports involving leg power, bursts of speed, decision making and agility I would consider volleyball as an option.

Check out Little Giants Volleyball Club, who have locations in Clapham, Wandsworth, Battersea and Brixton.

Sport 2: High Jump

Although the average height of competitive high jumpers is not quite as tall as a basketball or volleyball player, the most successful athletes in this sport are usually over 190cm (male) and 180cm (female) respectively.

Height provides high jumpers an advantage as their centre of gravity is higher off the ground, meaning the power they are required to generate is less than their shorter competitors. Often, successful high jump athletes have a low body weight for their height; strong glutes, quads and calves are fundamental in developing strength, speed and power.

School sports days provide fantastic opportunities for children and teenagers to explore sports that are unfamiliar to them and may not fall within their sporting curriculum. Additionally, Battersea Park Millennium Arena and Tooting Bec Athletics Track may provide further chances to explore new sports!

Sport 3: Rowing

Out of our three recommendations, rowing may be the least accessible and, as a consequence of that, will be considered less as a potential sport for a teenager to pursue. If rowing is accessible to your child, whether that is via school, location or other factors, it is a fantastic option for a tall teenager!

The average height of male and female rowers has been consistent over time, with the male average height being 194.1cm and females being 178.6cm. The advantage of having long legs and arms allows for an increased power output and stroke length with the blade.

For individuals currently competing at a county/national level in their respective sport and are of a similar build to what has been stated above, UK Sport run a talent identification program to encourage young people to explore the possibilities of Olympic and Paralympic sports that they may never have considered getting involved with before, aimed at discovering untapped potential (

You may have noticed that basketball was not mentioned in our list of recommendations. Although it is definitely a sport to consider exploring, we believe that tall individuals have heard the phrase “Do you play basketball?” way too often.

In short, we want to see young people in our community feel a sense of relatability, competence and autonomy, and we hope that by introducing some sports for tall teenagers this can help parents to guide their child/children towards sports suitable to fulfil their child’s needs.

Keep moving. Stay happy. Thanks for reading.

Coach Elliot & Coach Ben.

References and Recommended Readings:

1. Brown, K. A., Patel, D. R., & Darmawan, D. (2017). Participation in Sports in Relation to Adolescent Growth and Development. Translational Pediatrics, 6(3), 150.

2. High Jump Club. Do I Need to be Tall to be a Successful High Jumper? 18th December 2018.

3. Ludum. The Ideal Body Type of a Rower. Alex Wolf, 13th September 2021.

4. Mom Junction. What Does Teenage Growth Spurt Happen? Swati Patwal, January 25th 2022.

5. Tanaka, H., Fujii, K., & Ogura, Y. (2021). The Contact Between Sports Talent Identification and Tracking of Tall and Short Height. American Journal of Sports Science, 9(4), 78-84.

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