Because of my height, my hopes of ever playing in the NBA or NFL were thrown out the window fairly early in my life. But this got me thinking, does height have any effect on your athletic performance, or can someone that’s 5 feet tall be just as athletic as some that’s 6 feet tall?
The null hypothesis in this situation is that height has no effect on athletic performance. The alternative hypothesis is that height does effect athletic performance, meaning being taller wither gives you an advantage or a disadvantage over shorter people in athletic performance. There are multiple third variables that we have to be aware of when looking into the topic, such as type of athletic event, and what you would use to define athletic performance.
Speed is a crucial aspect of any athletic event, so are short people slower? You would think that stride length would have a big impact on speed, and in a way it does, but only after you reach a certain speed. It turns out, up to a certain speed, we all have around the same stride frequency. There was a study that was conducted in Italy about this very subject, where they collected data from a sample of 51 children ages 2-16, and then compared the findings with previously known data of adults. The researchers found that up to eleven kilometers per hour (8:45 mile pace), our stride frequency were very similar, and the frequency only began to change after you went of the set pace.
In a separate study, researchers looked into the relationship between muscle fatigue and arm length/height. The researchers gave each subject 3 attempts at a bench press where the were told to hold the weight at a certain height in order to produce muscle fatigue in the subjects. With a p-value of 0.02, it was found that there was less muscle fatigue in people with smaller arm spans than those with larger arm spans.
On average, men are slightly taller than women, so when we compare the difference between the heights of their vertical jump, we can get a vague idea of the relationship between height of a person and the height of their vertical jump. On average, the mean vertical jump height for men 22.1 inches with a standard deviation (give or take) of plus/minus 3/4 inches, while the mean female vertical jump height is 14.1 inches and the standard deviation is plus/minus 2.5 inches. From this data, we can conclude that on average, there is a positive correlation between the height of a person and the height of their vertical leap. Although, we need to consider the possible third variables due to the use of gender comparisons and not the direct effect of height.
After these findings, we can reject the null hypothesis that there is no relationship between height and athletic performance. Although there is not always a negative relationship, there is undoubtedly one in general.