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In general, height gives:

  • Serves (advantage)

    Votes: 39 95.1%
  • Volleys (advantage)

    Votes: 18 43.9%
  • Overheads (advantage)

    Votes: 26 63.4%
  • Groundstrokes (advantage)

    Votes: 6 14.6%
  • Movement/footwork (advantage)

    Votes: 3 7.3%
  • Serves (disadvantage)

    Votes: 2 4.9%
  • Volleys (disadvantage)

    Votes: 11 26.8%
  • Overheads (disadvantage)

    Votes: 4 9.8%
  • Groundies (disadvantage)

    Votes: 13 31.7%
  • Movement/footwork (disadvantage)

    Votes: 31 75.6%
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Discussion Starter #1
How much of an advantage (if any) do you think height provides when it comes to tennis?

I was interested to hear that some people thought that Laver would not be a great player if he played in this era becasue he was only 5ft 8in tall.

If someone (e.g. voo) could provide some statistics, I would be much obliged :)
 

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Forum Umpire:, Gaston Gaudio,
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It's not basketball or high jump.

Taller players have advantages with serve and at times generating power, but are slower across the court to get into position to hit shots and have to worry about their body even more than the players that are average height up to 1.85m.
 

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i don't have any statistics but it seems quite obvious that tennis is one of the sports where height is pretty important. due to the developments of strings and racquets during the last decades the serve has become one of the main things players need to focus on whereas back in the days the serve was hardly a shot itself. it was just used to get the game going.

just take a look at the top 50 and tell me how many guys are in there being under 1.80 cm. that pretty muchs says it all.
 

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With extremes of either there will always be advantages and disadvantages. Obviously those who are taller will find it much easier to serve but players such as Isner struggle with their joints and therefore sometimes struggle with movement around the court. Those who are smaller tend, by definition, not to struggle with movement problems, but serving is obviously going to be more difficult, their wingspan will be less at the net etc etc.

I suppose the best height to be is from 6ft to 6ft4 [although personal genetics can provide exceptions to the general rule].

And no.. I think if Laver had the strokes, tennis ability to play in today's game then his height wouldn't really hamper him..
 

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Very generally speaking very tall players will have an advantage on their serve. They might also have an advantage with overheads, but to a lesser extent. Everything else, they'll be at a disadvantage.

So basically, you need to be tall enough to have an effective serve, but not so tall that your movement and groundies suffer.

185 cm seems to be about the ideal height for a tennis player proven by the fact that both Sampras and Federer are 185 cm. On clay the ideal height will probably be somewhat less, proven by the fact that almost all of the great clay courters have been shorter than Sampras and Federer.

EDIT: Nevre mind with the clay. Nadal is ALSO 185 cm, making it even more obvious that this is the ideal height for a tennis player.
 

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Here are the heights of all #1 ranked players in the open era:

Safin - 193 cm

Kafelnikov - 190 cm
Moya: 190 cm
Becker - 190 cm
Kuerten: 190 cm

Lendl - 187 cm
Edberg - 187 cm
Roddick - 187 cm

Federer - 185 cm
Sampras - 185 cm
Nadal - 185 cm
Ashe - 185 cm
Courier - 185 cm
Rafter - 185 cm

Ferrero - 182 cm
Wilander - 182 cm
Nastase - 182 cm

McEnroe - 180 cm
Borg - 180 cm
Agassi - 180 cm
Hewitt - 180 cm
Muster - 180 cm

Connors - 177 cm

Rios - 175 cm

Laver - 172 cm

Rosewall - 170 cm

Newcombe - No data

Unforntunately it is very clear that these measures have just been "translated" from American measures, so no players at for instance 186, 184, 183, 181, etc.

What we CAN deduce from those figures is that anything from 180 cm to 190 cm seems to be a pretty good height for tennis.
 

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How much of an advantage (if any) do you think height provides when it comes to tennis?

I was interested to hear that some people thought that Laver would not be a great player if he played in this era becasue he was only 5ft 8in tall.

If someone (e.g. voo) could provide some statistics, I would be much obliged :)
Well, looking at the open era (EDIT: I refer to the open era as the TRULY open era, i.e. 1972 onwards, after the ATP was formed - thus, the first number 1 player I consider in this analysis is Nastase) there were very few number 1 players shorter than 180 centimeters (two as far as official statistics go (Jimmy Connors at 177 and Marcelo Rios at 175), but I wouldn't be surprised if some of those listed as 180 (Agassi, Hewitt, Muster, etc.) were actually below 180) or taller than 190 centimeters (just Safin at 193 as far as official statistics go). There are plenty of former number one players who are listed as 190 exactly, though (Boris Becker, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelikov and Gustavo Kuerten - four in total), and there are also many listed as exactly 180 (Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Thomas Muster and Lleyton Hewitt - 5 in total). So what does all of this mean? Well, that's not easy to say. Notice that if we go by the official statistics, just 3 out of the 23 open era number 1 players were shorter than 180 or taller than 190. However, one could argue that this is just because most males fall within that height range. However, expanding our analysis beyond the number 1 players, it is certainly true that in recent years, players above 190 have generally been more successful than those below 180. For those taller than 190, we have the Croatians (Goran Ivanisevic at 194, Mario Ancic at 195, Ivan Ljubicic at 193 and Ivo Karlovic at 208), we have Richard Krajicek at 195, we have Michael Stich at 193 and so on. For those below 180, I think the only one we have omitted after accounting for the number 1 players above is Michael Chang at 175. Thus, this very rough analysis would lead us to the conclusion that being abnormally tall is better than being abnormally short, but that the optimal height is somewhere between 180 and 190. Coincidentally, both Federer and Sampras fall precisely in the middle of that range at 185. The same goes for Rafael Nadal and former world number 1 players Jim Courier, Patrick Rafter and Andy Roddick.
 

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Here are the heights of all #1 ranked players in the open era:

Safin - 193 cm

Kafelnikov - 190 cm
Moya: 190 cm
Becker - 190 cm
Kuerten: 190 cm

Lendl - 187 cm
Edberg - 187 cm
Roddick - 187 cm

Federer - 185 cm
Sampras - 185 cm
Nadal - 185 cm
Ashe - 185 cm
Courier - 185 cm
Rafter - 185 cm

Ferrero - 182 cm
Wilander - 182 cm
Nastase - 182 cm

McEnroe - 180 cm
Borg - 180 cm
Agassi - 180 cm
Hewitt - 180 cm
Muster - 180 cm

Connors - 177 cm

Rios - 175 cm

Laver - 172 cm

Rosewall - 170 cm

Newcombe - No data

Unforntunately it is very clear that these measures have just been "translated" from American measures, so no players at for instance 186, 184, 183, 181, etc.

What we CAN deduce from those figures is that anything from 180 cm to 190 cm seems to be a pretty good height for tennis.

Federer is 186 cm and courier is 6 foot tall, not 6 '1. Sampras is definately taller than courier and he is 185 cm.
 

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i don't have any statistics but it seems quite obvious that tennis is one of the sports where height is pretty important. due to the developments of strings and racquets during the last decades the serve has become one of the main things players need to focus on whereas back in the days the serve was hardly a shot itself. it was just used to get the game going.

just take a look at the top 50 and tell me how many guys are in there being under 1.80 cm. that pretty muchs says it all.

:wavey:
yeah unless the ITF/ATP change the rules of tennis [eg. smaller racket heads]~~ then the trend will continue:sad:

...Hewitt could well end up being the last guy `ever` under 6-foot [1.83m] to reach #1:angel:
Pics Ferrer does very well for his height but unlikely to climb much further up the rankings;)
 

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Well, looking at the open era (EDIT: I refer to the open era as the TRULY open era, i.e. 1972 onwards, after the ATP was formed - thus, the first number 1 player I consider in this analysis is Nastase) there were very few number 1 players shorter than 180 centimeters (two as far as official statistics go (Jimmy Connors at 177 and Marcelo Rios at 175), but I wouldn't be surprised if some of those listed as 180 (Agassi, Hewitt, Muster, etc.) were actually below 180) or taller than 190 centimeters (just Safin at 193 as far as official statistics go). There are plenty of former number one players who are listed as 190 exactly, though (Boris Becker, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelikov and Gustavo Kuerten - four in total), and there are also many listed as exactly 180 (Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Thomas Muster and Lleyton Hewitt - 5 in total). So what does all of this mean? Well, that's not easy to say. Notice that if we go by the official statistics, just 3 out of the 23 open era number 1 players were shorter than 180 or taller than 190. However, one could argue that this is just because most males fall within that height range. However, expanding our analysis beyonf the number one players, it is certainly true that relatively in recent years, players above 190 have generally been successful than those below 180. For those taller than 190, we have the Croatians (Goran Ivanisevic at 194, Mario Ancic at 195, Ivan Ljubicic at 193 and Ivo Karlovic at 208), we have Richard Krajicek at 195, we have Michael Stich at 193 and so on. For those below 180, I think the only one we after accounting for the number 1 players above is Michael Chang at 175. Thus, this very rough analysis would lead us to the conclusion that being abnormally tall is better than being abnormally short, but that the optimal height is somewhere between 180 and 190. Coincidentally, both Federer and Sampras fall precisely in the middle of that range at 185. The same goes for Rafael Nadal and former world number 1 players Jim Courier, Patrick Rafter and Andy Roddick.
:wavey:
you`re right in suggesting that a lot of players lie about their height, or atleast the stats don`t indicate their real height accurately:eek:


Hewitt`s 178cm max [he`s always had a height complex]:p
Agassi & Muster didn`t look 180cm either [178-79cm]...

Rios was closer to 173cm;)
Chang also ~173cm

>>>
Interesting how the taller guys also lie, as they want to be closer to optimal height:devil:

Becker`s atleast 192cm
Safin`s close to 195cm:cool:
 

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yeah hewitt does look short at times, i used to think that too. another guy that simply doesn't provide correct data is santoro. i was in paris a couple of years ago and pretty much walked behind him to some practice court in order to see roger play next to it. i'm about 1.80 and santoro's height is 1.77 according to the atp website. but that guy was like a whole head shorter than me! he really seemed pretty small, i don't believe 1.77 is correct. or i grew like 10 cm during one year... :angel:
 

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I am not sure about height leading to bad groundies like Karlovic, in certain situations the taller you are the easier it's to hit flatter. Just look at how flat guys like Pim Pim, Berdych, Soderling etc. can hit. A wider wing span means more reach and facilitates the player's ability to deal with heavy topspin balls.
 

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if I'm not mistaken, height changes with each generation.

So you have to look at a players height relative to their peers, not just their absolute height.

I bet laver wasn't that short for his generation. If he was born today he'd be taller than 5' 8', so making arguments such as "if he were to play today..." are a bit more complicated than people realize.

But I do think that there are height boundaries for tennis. Given that the court dimensions and characteristics won't change dramatically, there is likely to be a point where getting taller or being too short just won't cut it.
 

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i don't think people in general got taller over the years. it's rather that people in tennis got taller because the game was more and more reliant on serve as the strings developed during the decades. sportspeople registered that and bit by bit the lavers got squeezed out of the tour and guys like krajicek and ivanisevic took over.

i'm not sure about it but if it's true what raging lamb is referring to, there must have been as much serve monsters around back in the laver days as there are today, because if they've been smaller in general it would have been the same situation as today when it comes to serving. but i guess that's not true. serving just wasn't that big a deal in the 70s or 80s.
 

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i don't think people in general got taller over the years. it's rather that people in tennis got taller because the game was more and more reliant on serve as the strings developed during the decades. sportspeople registered that and bit by bit the lavers got squeezed out of the tour and guys like krajicek and ivanisevic took over.
Actually people get taller with each generation.There are advantages and disadvantages to being tall,personally I think the best is round 185 cm,tall enough to have a good serve and also short enough to move good on court.
 
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