On his blog SportChart, Tomer Cohen charted the average height and weight of athletes in nearly a dozen major sports.
It gives you some pretty interesting perspective on just how big NBA and NFL players are, and shows how specialised positions in major professional sports have become.
This second chart shows the distribution for each type of athlete. Positions with dense clusters of dots (like NFL centres) are highly specialised — meaning there’s very little variety in body types. Positions with a wider spread (like right-handed MLB pitchers) have much more variety.
The biggest takeaways:
- The average athlete in every sport but three (ski jumping, flyweight UFC fighting, and gymnastics) is taller than the average American male height of 5’9″.
- NFL nose tackles are the heaviest athletes. Flyweight UFC fighters are the lightest.
- NBA centres are the tallest athletes. Gymnasts are the shortest.
- There’s a cluster of sports around 6’1″, 210 pounds. That means to be the average body type in general.
Body type clearly matters. Some sports are more conducive to exceptions. It’s possible for a 5’7″ soccer forward to be the best player in the world, for example. But you just don’t see exceptions in more specialised sports and positions. You’re never going to have a 210-pound offensive tackle in the NFL.
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