Among all the basic anthropometric measurements being tracked by the NBA, height is one of the most important. It provides a clear advantage in terms of reach, which is useful on both ends of the floor. In a way, height can dictate which positions players may be effective in playing.
And since it’s such an important stat, there is some controversy on methodologies. And one of the prevailing questions is: Are basketball players’ heights measured with shoes on?
What is the Average Height of a Basketball Player?
The average NBA player’s height measurements can vary significantly based on the league. For the NBA, the average height for the 2021-2022 season was about 6’8″. The NCAA, on the other hand, averages around 6’5″. In the recently concluded FIBA World Cup, players averaged around 6’4″.
Do Basketball Players Get Measured With or Without Shoes on?
Across all leagues, players are measured without shoes using a Stadiometer – a medical-grade height measuring tool. Where leagues differ is in the frequency of measurement.
NBA players had their height measured with their shoes on. The reason behind this is that players typically play the game wearing their shoes, and the shoe height could add a couple of crucial inches that are strategically significant during the game. However, the philosophy on this evolved over the years.
These days, players are typically measured by team doctors during the pre-draft process with shoes off. However, the league does not require players to undergo routine measurements. So, some players, especially rookies drafted in their teens, can still grow taller throughout their careers without having their heights readjusted in official league records.
Because the WNBA is such a young league, it’s trickier to pin down how player heights are taken. Some sources also say players may be fudging the numbers to draw audiences to games.
It’s safe to say that, similar to the early days of the NBA, there isn’t a standard measurement protocol for the WNBA. This means some teams may measure with shoes on while others can go the barefoot route.
In international tournaments such as FIBA, anthropomorphic measurements are taken before the league commences every time. Height measurements, therefore, are typically more up-to-date in these leagues than in professional leagues such as the NBA and WNBA. This often confuses fans, who may see some discrepancy between the listed heights of players who play in both international and commercial leagues.
In the NCAA, accurate player measurements are not prioritized as players are typically in their teenage years, and players can undergo significant growth spurts over their careers. So, the NCAA measures its players with their shoes on and does not require its teams to measure their player’s heights routinely.
History and Recent Changes with NBA Height Measurement
NBA fans have always been suspicious of the published heights of some of its players. Charles Barkley, for example, is officially listed at 6’6″ but is often perceived as a much shorter player by fans and NBA insiders. Kevin Durant’s listed height at 6’9″ is also often questioned by players who’ve tried to guard him.
The philosophies around height measurement have also changed over the years. Some players think measuring with shoes on should be the way to go about it because it’s their actual playing height on the court. These days, however, a more data-centric NBA means getting the actual barefoot height measurements, which is the preferred measurement method.
So, it’s not surprising that league executives eventually introduced rule changes to help improve the credibility of the NBA organization. In 2019, for example, Commissioner Adam Silver initiated a drive to bolster the league’s “integrity of information,” which saw certain player’s listed heights and even their age get adjusted.
The rules around NBA player height measurements were also clarified and standardized. Here are some of the key details:
- Players should be barefoot
- Measurement should be done by team doctors
- Use the standard Stadiometer
- Done at generally the same time of day
How Tall are NBA Players Without Their Shoes On?
Before the 2019 crackdown on player data, the NBA had no standardized method and frequency of measuring heights. Some players, therefore, ended up getting measured with shoes on. Furthermore, the measuring equipment wasn’t standard across all teams. Both these things can explain why some players’ heights are completely different from what’s listed in their official NBA profile. As a result, the league had to step in and do something about this glaring discrepancy.
With the newly standardized height measuring process, here are some of the adjusted heights of NBA players without shoes on:
|Previous Listed Height
So, how many inches do basketball shoes add to height? According to these results, basketball shoes typically added around 1 – 2 inches to the typical NBA player’s height measurements. However, for some players, actual heights grew. In these cases, dishonesty might play a bit of a role.
Why Do Some NBA Players Lie About Their Height?
While the lack of standardized methodologies may explain the discrepancies between listed height and actual heights, there is some possibility that some players are fudging the numbers for a number of reasons.
To avoid getting pigeonholed into certain positions
Anthony Davis, for example, admits he asks team doctors to list him at 6’11” instead of 7’0″ to avoid being forced to play at the center position. Charles Barkley, on the other hand, likes to keep his listed height at 6’6″ instead of his actual 6’4″ because it’s a more “acceptable” number for a power forward.
To get into the league
Getting scouted for a roster spot in Division I universities can be difficult. Scouts need to see hundreds of players each year, and sometimes, they make their decisions on whether to take an ocular to a player based on what they can see on paper. This makes it more enticing for players to round up their heights to appear more appealing to sports programs across the country. So, come draft day, their listed heights often get picked up by NBA teams, and they go with it.
To appear more intimidating to opponents
In the 90s, everyone knew and understood that Allen Iverson was barely 6 feet tall. It was only later revealed that Iverson decided to ask the Phillies announcer to introduce him at 6’2″, and the rest of the league announcers followed suit. This made his ball handling, quickness, and finishing skills even more intimidating for opposing guards.
What Factors Affect Basketball Player Measurements?
While getting player heights is a simple process, there are several factors that can affect the results. Sometimes, these factors can even cause drastic height differences for the same player using the same equipment.
As much as we’d love to see ten Victor Wembanyamas on the court, the vastness of human genetics dictates variety in human heights. In this case, some players are just born with a better chance of growing taller than others, no matter what they do.
Nutrition and Diet
Players need to fuel up right to maximize their potential. Remember, they’re not just athletes; they’re finely tuned machines. The type of food a player consumes, particularly during childhood, can have an impact on their height. A nutrient-rich diet can aid in achieving maximum height.
The rigors of training, the sweat they put into each rebound, sprint, and shot, help players grow both literally and figuratively. But basketball isn’t all jump shots and slam dunks; it’s about a healthy lifestyle. Certain exercises, such as Yoga, Jumping Jacks, Jump Rope, Back Extensions, Plyometrics, and general training, can stimulate growth plates and build strong bones, potentially contributing to the full expression of a person’s genetically determined height.
Let’s not forget those crazy hormones. Puberty hits, and boom! Our favorite players grow right before our eyes. Remember how those images of the 5’2″ CJ McCollum at 15-years-old making the rounds recently? Well, once puberty hits and hormones kicked in, you’d be flabbergasted at how tall he got in such a short time. He grew to a whopping 6’4″ by the time he was 18.
It was only in 2019 that the NBA standardized measuring equipment and standards used in determining its players’ heights. Before then, teams were free to use any method they liked. Whether teams measured players with shoes on or off all depended on what the team wanted. Upon standardization, however, teams were required to resubmit player heights using standardized methods using a specific medical tool called the Stadiometer. This move led some players to change their listed heights in official NBA documents.
Wrapping Things Up: Are Basketball Player Heights Measured With Shoes On?
A basketball player’s height is important in player evaluation, position allocation, and statistical analysis. However, the lack of data integrity across the league due to a lack of standardized methodologies and players not telling the truth on their actual height are both huge hurdles.
So, when NBA executives decided to reevaluate the league’s measurement policies, it was such a big relief. This gives analysts, scouts, and coaches more accurate data to work with, which means a more competitive and data-driven brand of basketball.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.