average wingspan of basketball player

What Is the Average Wingspan of Basketball Players

In the realm of basketball, wingspan, or arm span, which is the measurement from fingertip to fingertip of outstretched arms, is a vital attribute for players. A player’s ability to shoot, pass, defend, and rebound can be significantly influenced by their wingspan. Generally, professional basketball players have a larger wingspan than the average person. For men, the average wingspan is typically around 1-1.5 inches more than their height, but in basketball, this difference can be more pronounced with some athletes showcasing a wingspan that surpasses their height by 6 inches or more.

Considering basketball positions, the average wingspan can vary substantially. Guards, typically being the shortest players on the team, may have a smaller wingspan relative to forwards or centers, who are usually the tallest players and possess the broadest wingspans. Over time, the collection of data on players’ wingspans has become more thorough, thereby providing a clearer picture of how wingspans correlate with success in basketball. Coaches and scouts often look at a player’s wingspan as a key metric in evaluating their potential on the court.

Key Takeaways

  • Basketball players often have a longer wingspan compared to their height, influencing their performance.
  • Wingspan varies by position with centers typically having the broadest measurements.
  • Systematic data collection on wingspan has improved understanding of its impact on player success.

Average Wingspan in Basketball

The average wingspan in basketball is a crucial measure of an athlete’s reach and potential defensive capability. Wingspan can impact a player’s performance on the court, particularly in rebounds, blocks, and steals.

Understanding Wingspan

Wingspan, also known as arm span or reach, is the distance from fingertip to fingertip when arms are extended parallel to the floor. More than just arm length, it encompasses shoulder width and can offer advantages over height alone. For instance, two players might be the same height, but the player with the longer wingspan could have a defensive edge.

Wingspan Measurements in Professional Leagues

In professional basketball leagues such as the NBA, wingspan measurements are publicly recorded and analyzed. The following table shows average wingspan data by position, reflecting an emphasis on reach:

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PositionAverage Wingspan (inches)
Point Guard6′ 7.5″
Shooting Guard6′ 9.5″
Small Forward6′ 11″
Power Forward7′ 1.5″
Center7′ 3″

It is important to note that these are averages, and there is a considerable range of wingspans among players. Some athletes, known for their impressive wingspans, significantly exceed these measurements, affecting their roles and responsibilities on the court.

Factors Affecting Wingspan

Wingspan varies among basketball players due to a constellation of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, the most critical being genetics and the potential modulations by training and nutrition.


Genetics plays a paramount role in determining a basketball player’s wingspan. Individuals inherit various genetic markers from their parents that dictate their body proportions, including arm length. Scientific research indicates specific genes are associated with height and limb proportions. For example, a study on the IGF1 gene showed a correlation between certain alleles and longer arms.

Training and Nutrition

Although genetics establishes a base for wingspan, training and nutrition can subtly influence this trait. Basketball players often engage in strength training that targets the shoulders and upper body, which can enhance muscle mass in the arms, possibly affecting wing span measurement. Nutrition-wise, a diet sufficient in protein, vitamins, and minerals is critical during developmental years for optimal growth of bones and muscles, potentially maximizing the genetic wingspan potential.

Comparison Across Basketball Positions

In professional basketball, player wingspan varies significantly across different positions. Guards typically have smaller wingspans, while centers usually boast the largest.


Guards generally have the smallest wingspans on the team, which average from 6 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 7 inches. Their playstyle doesn’t rely as much on reach, which is reflected in their average wingspan.


Forwards have a wider range of wingspans, often falling between 6 feet 8 inches and 7 feet 1 inch. This increased length allows for better defense and rebounding capabilities that are crucial for their role.


Centers tend to have the longest wingspans, with averages spanning from 7 feet 1 inch to 7 feet 5 inches. This significant reach is a key factor in their ability to block shots and secure rebounds.

Wingspan and Basketball Performance

In basketball, a player’s wingspan can significantly impact their on-court performance, affecting their defensive abilities and ball-handling skills.

Advantages of a Wider Wingspan

A wider wingspan is a physical attribute that provides multiple benefits in basketball. Players with longer arms have an advantage on:

  • Defense: They can cover more area, challenge shots effectively, and disrupt passing lanes.
  • Rebounding: Longer reach allows players to grab more boards by extending over shorter opponents.
  • Steals and Blocks: An extensive wingspan aids in generating more steals and blocks, enhancing a player’s defensive presence.
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Wingspan Vs. Height

While height is an important metric in basketball, wingspan often proves to be a more decisive factor for a player’s success. A comparison:

Player AspectHeightWingspan
Defensive CoverageImportantMore Crucial
ShootingBeneficialCan be advantageous
Ball HandlingLess influentialImproves Control

Players with a wingspan exceeding their height, known as a “positive wingspan-to-height ratio,” typically excel in defensive plays and ball-handling due to their extended reach and coverage.

Basketball players’ wingspans have shown a gradual increase over the decades. An examination of data from the 1940s to the present highlights how the average wingspan has grown parallel to the athletes’ height and the evolving style of play.

In the 1940s, the average height of NBA players was around 6 feet 4 inches with a wingspan marginally larger. By the 1980s, the average had increased to approximately 6 feet 7 inches, and a proportional increase in wingspan was noted.

1990s to 2000s:

  • Average Height: 6 feet 7 inches
  • Average Wingspan: 6 feet 11 inches


  • Average Height: 6 feet 7 inches
  • Average Wingspan: 7 feet


  • Average Height: 6 feet 6 inches
  • Average Wingspan: 7 feet

These figures underscore a trend where the wingspan exceeds player height by several inches—increasing the defensive and offensive capabilities on the court. Notably, some positions exhibit larger wingspans relative to their height, especially power forwards and centers.

Recent NBA combines have shed light on outliers with exceptionally long wingspans, causing a revision of what constitutes an “average” within professional basketball. Wingspans reaching 7 feet 10 inches have been recorded, reflecting the ongoing evolution of the player’s physique in the sport.

Yearly Draft Analysis:

  • 20-Year Trend: +2 inches in wingspan
  • Most Growth: Power forward and center positions

Data suggests that teams value wingspan as a critical factor during drafts. This appreciation of a superior wingspan is tied to a player’s rebounding ability, shot-blocking, and overall defensive presence. The shift towards players with larger wingspans also indicates a changing strategy, favoring reach and agility over bulk and mass.

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Wingspan Measurement Techniques

The accurate measurement of a basketball player’s wingspan is a key step in evaluating their physical attributes. Wingspan refers to the span from one tip of the player’s extended hand to the other, measured across the back.

Apparatus Required:

  • Measuring tape: A flexible measuring tape is used for precision.
  • Marking tool: To mark the extremities of the wingspan on a measurement surface or wall.


  1. The player extends their arms parallel to the floor, palms facing downwards.
  2. They stand against a flat surface or wall to keep their back straight.
  3. Starting from the fingertip of one hand, the tape is extended to the other, ensuring it runs straight and parallel to the ground.
  4. The measurement is recorded where the middle fingertip of the other hand ends.

Additional Tips:

  • The player’s shoulders must be relaxed to avoid elevation or stretching that could alter the measurement.
  • The tape should remain taut but not stretched out across the span to avoid compression or extension of the material which could lead to inaccuracies.


  • Notes are made of the measurement to the nearest quarter-inch or centimeter, depending on the preference of the system being used.
  • It is important to repeat the measurement at least once to check for consistency and ensure reliability.

Using these techniques, scouts and coaches reliably gather wingspan data, contributing to their thorough understanding of a player’s potential reach and defensive capabilities.

Notable Players and Their Wingspans

Wilt Chamberlain7’8″ (234 cm)
Kevin Durant7’5″ (226 cm)
Giannis Antetokounmpo7’3″ (221 cm)
Kawhi Leonard7’3″ (221 cm)
Rudy Gobert7’9″ (236 cm)

In the realm of professional basketball, wingspan is a critical physical attribute that can give players a significant advantage on both ends of the court. A long wingspan can facilitate better reach in defense, shot-blocking ability, and ease in finishing around the basket.

Wilt Chamberlain, a legendary figure, had an impressive wingspan of 7’8″. His physicality and size were unmatched during his time on the basketball court. In the modern game, Kevin Durant stands out with a wingspan of 7’5″, which, paired with his skill set, makes him an extraordinary player.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, nicknamed the “Greek Freak,” possesses a wingspan of 7’3″, which contributes to his versatility and dominance as a forward. Similarly, Kawhi Leonard utilizes his 7’3″ wingspan to excel in steals and defense. Lastly, Rudy Gobert, known for his shot-blocking prowess, has a remarkable wingspan of 7’9″, making him one of the most formidable defenders in the league.

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