Importance of height (or not so much)

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by ndtennisfan, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. ndtennisfan

    ndtennisfan New User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    Curious if anybody has any thoughts regarding height as a factor in playing beyond juniors. It seems that there are quite a few juniors who are exceptional athletes and all-around players (Grace Min, Lauren Davis), but who struggle a bit to overcome the wingspan and power of the 5'9" plus women on the WTA. I can't help but compare it to basketball, where passion will get you through high school if you're a 5'5" male, but unless you're Muggsy Bogues your dream typically ends there. Just wonder if that's ever a consideration for other parents looking at spending tens of thousands of dollars over the years after age 13'ish, or even if it should be.
     
    #1
  2. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    If average height is 5'10 for men and 5'6" for women then there are more players taller than average playing in D-1 and the pros. So 'statistically' it makes more sense to invest more in a taller kid. But our kids are not statistics.

    As parents we just have to do what is best on a case by case basis. If tennis keeps kids away from drugs or other bad influences as teens, what is the value of that?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
    #2
  3. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Messages:
    317
    I don't see the relevance of this question. Parents are going to spend regardless. I they are not, it's going to be for different reasons other than the kid is short. So, no... height is not a factor in playing beyond juniors.
     
    #3
  4. ndtennisfan

    ndtennisfan New User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    And it may not be relevant at all. I happened to see it brought up in the other thread on Grace Min and was curious. My oldest son played football and was a decent high school QB ... but certainly not a D1 physical talent. My youngest is taller now, but she may end up like her siblings. Maybe those conversations are more candid in some sports than others (from coaches, etc). It just seems to be easier to tell if they have the physical ability to take it to the next level in those sports than it is with tennis.
     
    #4
  5. Orange

    Orange Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Messages:
    209
    My son was 5'2" at age 13, when he started to play tennis. Had I thought this way, he would never have begun.

    Three years later, he was 6'2", played number 1 on his varsity team as a sophomore, and trained every weekday. Then and now, he loves the sport.

    No, height should not be a factor for a parent who is deciding whether to pay for tennis training for his or her child.
     
    #5
  6. tball2day

    tball2day Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2011
    Messages:
    603
    ...........................
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
    #6
  7. TennisCoachFLA

    TennisCoachFLA Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Messages:
    4,338
    Yes, those who invest their money do look at height. IMG sponsors taller players on average more than short players. As parents we have a different set of criteria though.
     
    #7
  8. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,905
    It seems like a good valid question.

    If your child is likely to be very short, maybe investing so much in tennis is not a great idea.

    Maybe the child would be more suited for something else like gymnastics or figure skating, etc.
     
    #8
  9. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,905
    Didnt you have some idea how tall he was likely to be based on how tall you and other members of your family are?

    On another topic, personally, I wonder if some of these pro kids were not given HGH or something else at a young age to insure greater height. Maria Sharapova comes to mind as a plus 6 foot tall woman is very rare, and she is much taller than her mother and father.
     
    #9
  10. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    994
    Great response!
     
    #10
  11. Dadof10s

    Dadof10s Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    Messages:
    83
    Oh my goodness, what is with you people? Since I have read this forum I have seen people accuse Stefan Kozlov of lying about his age, accuse a mother of lying that soft ball smashing bothered her child's shoulder, and now accusing parents of drugging their children with growth hormone. This is very ridiculous stuff. HGH can add about 2 inches if given from a very young age at a cost of $2000 ever month, the effect stops immediately when it is stopped. The side effects for those 2 inches are massive, head aches, blurred vision, swollen hands and feet. Yeah, sounds like a realistic thing that they did when her dad showed up in USA with $11 and drove a cab for 5 years. Or maybe she just has a grandfather who was 6'5'?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
    #11
  12. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    994
    HGH has been a "hidden" drug, abused by parents who think their kid has potential to be a pro.

    There has been "locker room" gossip that Sampras & Sharapova were given HGH.
     
    #12
  13. Dadof10s

    Dadof10s Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    Messages:
    83
    Sorry but this is ridiculous. My brother in law is an endocrinologist and knows all about it. HGH can cause some strength gains in athletes but is not going to help height in that context. It is not even effective for strength compared to steroids. In terms of height it can add 2 inches, maybe 3, if given from age 3 or 4 every month until growth stops. $2000 a month regiment. The side effects are unreal and many families stop treatment. An athlete would take small doses in an effort to gain an advantage short term but the large long term doses to increase height would not happen in reality. The locker room talk is jealousy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
    #13
  14. ndtennisfan

    ndtennisfan New User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    Well this certainly took an interesting twist. Thanks though, for your feedback. Sounds like height is a factor for elite level, but no worries until mid-teens and, well, several years of highly successful competition. I figure if I'm already thinking about this to the point of posting to a junior tennis board, my ability to approach it rationally might already be suspect. :)
     
    #14
  15. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,905
    Well that certainly makes you an expert then.

    :):?
     
    #15
  16. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,905
    Wow, personal attack much?

    OMG, people didn't believe a suspect story of a 9 year old playing a 2 hour, 45minute match even though QS has abbreviated scoring and most junior matches of older kids don't last 2 hours and 45 minutes and certainly don't result in calluses after 1 match.

    But we shouldn't dare question a questionable story because it will offend your delicate sensibilities.

    Get a grip, please.
     
    #16
  17. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,905
    If the child wants to play and loves playing and you can afford it, then you should continue to pay.

    Certainly, there are exceptions where really short players do really well like Cibulkova, Coetzer, and Olivier Rochus.
     
    #17
  18. Orange

    Orange Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Messages:
    209
    No, actually, his parents are 5'6" (mom) and 5'9" (dad), and his height and potential height never crossed our minds (except to the extent that we noticed he was shorter than most of his friends).

    My son wanted to try out for the middle school tennis team (despite never having played a match), so we let him. It is somewhat amazing that he made the team.

    I hope most parents support their children in their chosen sports regardless of their height.
     
    #18
  19. ndtennisfan

    ndtennisfan New User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    That's a very good point. And therein lies the rub; I'm starting to see just how much of a time / money investment it can be to raise a jr. player to anything beyond a hobby. It's affordable now, but I've read where that investment can become surreal (not to mention stressful to the child, parents relationship, etc). And so in the back of my head I'm thinking this is all well and good, but when push comes to shove ... may have to keep it in some kind of perspective just a few years down the road. And if height is a critical factor differentiating elite from collegiate, that's something to keep in mind.
     
    #19
  20. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2010
    Messages:
    317
    Highly doubt it. The muscle mass and alteration in bone structure just isn't there if they were on it for a prolonged period of time. See Arnold Schwarznegger and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos...
     
    #20
  21. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Messages:
    4,856
    Ditto. Don't let stereotypes rule your thinking let alone better judgement (which involves your child's happiness). Remember, and with prudence, when we leave this place we can't take our money with us.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
    #21
  22. D1 Parent

    D1 Parent New User

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Really???

    I am so glad my kid is now playing college tennis. This stuff is comical.
     
    #22
  23. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290

    The real negative effects of HGH show up in the next generation. Junior's kids.
     
    #23
  24. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290
    Being short in any sport, except gymnastics, is a disadvantage.

    Spend the money if your junior is passionate about playing a sport, any sport.

    Don't spend the money if you think of it as an investment for college or the pros, as the money would be better off in the bank earning interest.
     
    #24
  25. pvsportsfan

    pvsportsfan New User

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    I agree. My kids are naturally short but I spend money on their sports because they like to play. Same with music lesson, dance, chess, etc. It's not an investment for college or pros. My investment for their college is in the tutors, SAT assistance programs, etc.

    When they play any sport, height or size isn't even an issue. They have fun and they can even win. Pros? Nah, they don't need that - they're better off being well-rounded, academically-accomplished and getting a career path that will end up more valuable than some sports pro career in the long run.

    In tennis, my 4'11" 12-year old daughter has even played up at 16s and 18s Open Doubles tourneys just for fun (partnering with an equally young player). No she's not a phenom but she does regularly beat older girls (including a couple who got college scholies --- and we all got a kick out of that) who are nearly a foot taller with outrageous disparity in wingspan. She's not thinking height when she plays. That same daughter also plays Los Angeles travel ball basketball where height is more of a premium, but again, height for a point guard isn't as valuable as quickness, vision, skill and a bunch of other things. With travel ball BB, she hangs out with older division girls who will get college scholies, and I'm sure she could be one herself if she wanted to push it, height notwithstanding, but what's the point? We spend money on both sports for her because she enjoys them.
     
    #25
  26. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,905
    Being short is also an advantage in figure skating. There are probably some other sports where being short can be an advantage.
     
    #26
  27. chalkflewup

    chalkflewup Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,697
    What about limbo dancing?
     
    #27
  28. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290
    Being a jockey?
     
    #28
  29. jht32

    jht32 Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2011
    Messages:
    245
    Being taller is an advantage in most sports, but I'm thinking that tennis is not near the top of the list in terms of the importance of height. Therefore, tennis is not a bad sport to choose if you are vertically challenged.

    Off the top of my head, this is my list of the importance of height in different sports. Of course, some team sports have different positions where the importance of height is different.

    Volleyball, Basketball
    Swimming
    Football
    Lacrosse
    Tennis, Golf
    Baseball
    Soccer
    Cross Country
    Gymnastics, Diving

    Success at tennis is determined by so many other factors that are even more important than height, such as mental strength, hand-eye coordination, quickness, etc. These factor can all be "measured", but none as easily or accurately as height. Because of the ease of measuring height, it leads people to take the easy road and put too much emphasis on height as a measuring stick.
     
    #29
  30. ClarkC

    ClarkC Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2008
    Messages:
    3,765
    Location:
    Charlottesville, VA
    Distance runners need low body weight and are therefore shorter than average as a group.
     
    #30
  31. pvsportsfan

    pvsportsfan New User

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    Some sports where height is a complete non-factor include the following. In fact, you will see that height is even a disadvantage in some of these.

    Powerlifting - This is not a trivial sport. There is a vast pool of participants nowadays as many major sports have adopted this sport's exercises. At the elite level, height is a disadvantage. I remember Anthony Clark (bless his soul), one of the sport's great superheavyweight superstars, while weighing in the mid-300s, was listed at 5'8", although homeboy was closer to 5'6". This type of height is not an exception in this sport.

    US Olympic Weightlifting - See above.

    Archery - It may be surprising to some, but this is not a niche, kooky sport. This activity has been around for thousands of years, practiced by many cultures around the world. Do a Google search on US Olympic women championship teams and you will be surprised to see how short the gold medal teams are. Every single one of the women Olympic championship teams, since the inception of women's archery in the Olympics, without exception, are the same type of stock (short) as Grace Min. Those of you who know this sport know what I mean.

    Shooting - This is an important Olympic sport and something that every country in the world does (not Olympics, but the activity itself) to some extent. Height is completely irrelevant. Although not for sports, in my opinion the greatest shooter of all time was a sniper from Finland named Simo Hayha. He is credited with over 700 kills in WWII. The guy was 5-feet tall. Yes, that's 5-feet even.

    50 meter to 100 meter sprints - Usain Bolt is an exception. Go to a high school meet and see for yourself. Don't go to a high school in the boonies or an area with rich kids paying for lessons and "starring" in dual meets. Go to an urban high school please. The best you can say is that height is a non-factor, but you will see many, many fast sprinters who are shorter than the norm.

    Boxing - I know this is debatable. I will argue that it is a matter of styles. There are many different styles in this sport that can be potentially successful. A height-based style can be successful, but so can a different style.

    -------------
    So that's my list. And I like these because they represent sports that have carryover value to other sports and other activities in life.
     
    #31
  32. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,026
    Squash and racquetball professionals tend not to be tall.
    Elite cyclists are not usually tall.
     
    #32
  33. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,002
    I'd think that height isn't really factor for 99.9% of tennis players ... actually a great highschool sport for an undersized child.
     
    #33
  34. pvsportsfan

    pvsportsfan New User

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    That pretty much sums it, I think.

    Locally, here in the Los Angeles area, one only need look at rosters of the various sports in high school and that observation applies. Tennis is a refuge for the undersized kids. Not only that, but for those who may not be as physically imposing. Just start young, pay for private lessons for years, and presto. In mainstream major sports for boys, and basketball and softball for girls, there are what are called "studs" -- physical specimens in dimension, speed, strength, etc. You rarely see that in tennis. In tennis, it is not rare to see a 5-feet little kid beat legitimate 17-year old high school players regularly (I see that a lot locally) just by skills alone. Can't happen in the major mainstream sports.
     
    #34
  35. Number1Coach

    Number1Coach Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,450
    I was at Claremont and witnessed Coy Jones and Alyssa Smith play a 5 1/2 hr match ,, they started before us (1st match) and finished after we played our 2nd match of the day .
     
    #35
  36. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Messages:
    4,856
    If that's a 3 set match, which it probably was that still comes out to less than 2 hours a set. For a QS match using the abbreviated scoring format to last 2:45 is a little hard to believe. Not saying it did not happen just that what's in print is not always reliable.
     
    #36
  37. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,290
    Brad Gilbert is the voice at the Australian Open.

    So funny.

    Not his direct quotes below, but somewhat.

    He is talking about Ferrer. He says his height is listed as 5'9.

    Something like yeah maybe with his shoes on.

    But, then says he gives hope to all the short guys out there.

    The other commentator said, "and the balls are so low, it helps to be short".
     
    #37
  38. ndtennisfan

    ndtennisfan New User

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    32
    #38
  39. Love10s

    Love10s New User

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Actually, I find it very easy to believe. I think the problem is that some posters from other sections aren't aware that the system in SoCal is different.

    Jan. 1, 2012, was the first time SoCal went QS. Before that, all 10U tourneys were regulation balls. This year, 10U are all green ball. They also are REGULAR SCORING.

    I checked, and this particular tournament in Lakewood, Calif., was best of 3 sets, with a match tiebreak to 10 in lieu of the third set. The match in question was 4-6, 7-6, 1-0 (1).

    Now, I've seen a lot of 10U matches in SoCal over the years, and I can tell you firsthand that some of them are quite long--yes, even 3 hours. And that was with yellow balls. Remember, the green balls are advertised as "resulting in longer rallies."
     
    #39
  40. Misterbill

    Misterbill Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    671
    Y'all are talking height, as in vertical, right?

    I think the biggest factor is wingspan.....horizontal.

    For most humans, height = wingspan.

    The ability to get to a ball is based on quickness+speed+wingspan. If a player is short (small wingspan) that deficiency can be made up through quickness and speed.

    That's why a short, agile player can often out-get a tall, clunky player.

    Verticality provides better angles on serves and overheads, but except for that, I assess height for what it means to horizontal wingspan.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
    #40
  41. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    6,368
    yes. height helps. however olivier rochus is 5"5 and he easily beats any college player out there.

    so if you are good enough it doesn't really matter unless you are really tiny.
     
    #41
  42. gplracer

    gplracer Professional

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Messages:
    1,130
    My friend's son went to Bollettieri recently and they plan to go back. They were told to bring x-rays of his growth plates and a statement from his doctor about how tall it was thought that he would be. Have you ever heard of such?
     
    #42

Share This Page