Can Short People Play Basketball? Find Out How Height Impacts a Game of Ball

Most NBA players average just under seven feet. You'll encounter 7-foot giants like Ralph Sampson, and even the great Michael Jordan, who was an impressive 6-foot 6-inches. This may make you wonder if short people can play basketball.

There's no denying that your height plays a significant role in a game like basketball. However, you don't need to be tall to excel at the game. In fact, there are several outstanding short players who may inspire you to try out basketball regardless of your height.

Basketball Skills You Need as a Short Player

First off, you’ll have to admit that shorter people have a disadvantage against taller players. The basket rim is higher, so you'll need a better jump to shoot the ball inside. 

Also, dunking is way more complicated for a short person than a taller athlete, and most of these players have equally shorter arms which makes it harder to defend against them.

Related: How Tall Do You Need to Slam Dunk?

Nevertheless, you can make up for your physical shortcomings with plenty of other skills to improve your game. 

  • Dribbling

Dribbling is a core skill for every player. However, shorter people have to scale this ability to find gaps in the defense. In addition, you must strengthen your weaker hand so that you can dribble on each side of the court.

The basketball court is not large. There is very little space to move around, especially if taller players surround you. But if you can dribble well enough, you'll quickly have the upper hand.

The push dribble is one of Stephen Curry's signature moves. Check it out here.

  • Long-Range Shooting

If you are a short player, shooting from inside the 3-point line isn't the best idea. Taller players, especially in the center, will be ready to block your attempts.

That's why you have to kill your 3-point attempts. You don't need height to land an outside shot but rather, an accurate throw.

  • Speed

Shorter players are lighter and able to move faster around the court. Combining your speed with next-level dribbling allows you to evade the defense. After that, you can quickly make uncontested drives into the basket.

Additionally, swift movements allow you to find space to make a shot attempt. So, can short people play basketball? Certainly! And if they are fast enough, they’ll even stand out among the best players on the team!

You might also like: Best Basketball Agility Ladder for Footwork, Speed & Explosiveness

What Position Can Short People Play in Basketball?

Although you can play anywhere on a basketball court, some positions are more suitable for short people. For example, a taller player will excel in a defensive position as long arms effectively block an opponent's pass or shot attempt.

If you are shorter, you will not be able to reap the benefits of a large frame. However, your short stature will work wonders when driving during the offense. And if you are fast and an outstanding dribbler, get ready to break some knees!


The guard position is reserved for short people. Both point and shooting guards are excellent shooters and can read the game as it unfolds. However, the point guard runs the show. They will dribble into open space and orchestrate the ball to open teammates.

The guard positions call for speed and sublime dribbling. Also, you must have flawless passing and superior awareness during the game. Fortunately, a lot of short pro players have mastered these skills to counter their other shortcomings.

Related: What is the Wing Position?

Tips for Short Basketball Players to Improve Their Game

Even without the height advantage, you can still play basketball well. Regardless, you must work on other skills so that you can ace the game.

If you still feel dejected, consider all the sub-six-foot players who have dominated the NBA. Think of Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, who was 5-foot 3-inches, Earl Boykin, 5-foot 5-inches, and Anthony "Spud" Webb. Webb even won the 1986 NBA slam dunk challenge!

So, how can short people play basketball and match some of the NBA legends? Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Master The Floater

A lot of players, especially short people, attempt to shoot during an active jump. It helps during a drive into the opponent's half. But unfortunately, tall centers can easily block your shot.

The Floater is a jumping technique that doesn't involve a jump. Instead, you get around taller players as you finesse the shot towards the hoop. Also, the floater is harder to block since it has a high arch while traveling to the basket.

  • Get Stronger

You should be strong, mainly because taller players are likely to boss you around during a game. To have a solid defense, you must also bring some muscle to the court.

Increasing your strength also improves your speed. As a guard, you'll be setting up other players, so agility is essential in the game. It would also help if you were fast on your feet to get into open spaces and accurately deliver the ball.

Lifting weights is the best way to build your strength. Plus, ensure that you are getting plenty of protein to build muscle.

  • Be A Team Player

Granted, a taller player has a higher chance of scoring simply by being closer to the basketball rim. Still, every team member has a different talent. That's why you must be one with your mates.

Shorter players are more inclined to consider the greater good. They have to keep this mindset because of a height disadvantage that a teammate can fill in. 

Also, the athletes are well adapted to creating scoring opportunities. They are better dribblers and faster on average than taller basketball players.

  • Raise Your Awareness 

Basketball tests your physical prowess and mental ability. You should avoid reacting to plays and instead create opportunities for your team. That's why the guard positions best suit short-statured players.


Understanding your opponent's mindset increases your awareness during a game. It allows you to predict events before they unfold. And since you don’t have a physical advantage, you must leverage all your mental strength. 

  • Improve Your Defense

Study your opponent's strengths and weaknesses to find loopholes in their defense. With your strength and speed, you should be all over your adversary.

Even if you're shorter, you can still block shots. Match your opponent's momentum and jump with your hands held up when they do.

  • Improve Your 3-Point Shots

You'll routinely find it harder to dunk during a game, especially if the center holds his ground. However, you can take advantage of long-range shots to get a better point haul. 

short player 3 pointer

Long-range throws are harder to pull off because you are a long way off the rim. Nevertheless, if you have more 3-point shots in a game, you'll be clear of the opposition in no time. Also, you don't have to worry about taller players closing in because you’ve got plenty of space.

Short players must ace 3-point shots to make up for their height. It takes time and a lot of practice to become a long-range marksman. However, the benefits are worth the effort.

Final Thoughts on Short Basketball Players 

Many fans routinely wonder how short people can play basketball. Basketball seems like a tall man's game from the get-go because the rim is 10 feet high. Moreover, the most successful MVPs have been tall, 6-foot giants. 

can short people play basketball?

Nevertheless, you don't need to be the tallest guy in the locker room. By cultivating other ball skills, you can be an all-around basketball player. 

Because of the height shortcoming, you must try to be the fastest player during a game. Also, your dribbling should be second to none. Also, to move your team forward, master 3-point shot accuracy. You won't have to deal with a much taller defense if you are shooting from way back.

Related: Does Playing Basketball Make You Taller?

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast