Watching a game of soccer at home on TV is a lot of fun but actually playing a full 90 minutes is a very intense workout.
There are a lot of factors that will determine what distance a soccer player will cover in a game but the average for outfield players is around 6-7 miles.
Let’s take a look at what factors will influence the distance a soccer player will run in a competitive match.
Average Distance By Position
In soccer, the different positions in each team have very different jobs to do during a match. The goalkeeper and defenders have the straightforward task of keeping the ball out of their goal while the strikers try and do the opposite. Midfielders have a slightly more complicated role in the game and will often help out the team at both ends of the field.
As you might expect, goalkeepers do the least amount of running during a soccer match. They won’t often stray further from their own penalty area to pass the ball to their defenders or make a clearance.
Of course, modern goalkeepers have a much more active role in their team’s attack but even then, they won’t run very far. As a result, a goalkeeper will rarely cover more than 2 miles throughout a 90-minute match.
Much like the goalkeeper, these players won’t run very far across the course of an entire match because they are the anchor of the defense. Although, they will often travel up the field, to the opposition’s goal, when their team has a corner kick or free-kick. You could expect a center-back to travel around 5 miles in a competitive match but this will also depend greatly on the quality of the opposition’s attack.
For example, if the center-back’s team is struggling with a lot of attacks from the opposition, they will cover a lot more ground trying to keep them at bay. On the other hand, a center-back who plays for a team that holds the ball and attacks a lot themselves may have a lot less work to do.
These are the defensive players that will sit on either side of the center backs, running up and down the sidelines. The number of miles a fullback runs during a full soccer match will depend largely on the tactics of their coach.
For example, some managers prefer their fullbacks to play as wingers, basically a part of the midfield. Other managers will use their defense to hold onto possession at all costs and will have their fullbacks stay relatively deep.
This means that more defensive fullbacks will cover around the same distance as a center back (5 or 6 miles) and attacking fullbacks might cover the most ground of any position (7 miles or more!).
This is one of the most complex positions in a soccer team because different central midfielders are required to do different things for the team. A legendary defensive midfielder like Gennaro Gattuso spends a lot of time during a game helping out the defenders before passing the ball forward to the attack. A more attacking central midfielder like Zinedine Zidane spends more time posing a threat to the opposition’s goal and rarely goes as far back as to help out the defenders.
Ultimately, this means that the distance covered by central midfielders will vary greatly, though they will still cover more than most other positions. You could expect a central midfielder to cover around 7 miles over the course of a match.
These players tend to function both in the midfield of a team and the attack. This means they typically will rarely spend much time helping out their defenders but will pose a great threat to the goal of the opposition.
In terms of miles covered, this equates to a smaller distance than the rest of the midfielders but a greater distance than some defenders. You can expect a winger to cover around 5-6 miles during a match, though this also depends largely on how well the rest of their team performs and how much attacking they will do.
These players are the attacking threat of the game whose job it is to score goals to win their team the match. This means a lot of time spent at the opposite end of the field to their own goal, trying to run through the defense and beat the offside trap.
Again, the amount of ground covered by strikers varies depending on the team’s tactics and possession of the ball. For example, if a team plays aggressively and constantly plays long balls toward the attackers, their strikers will have a lot of running to do.
Alternatively, teams that prefer to build up their attack slowly will not require their strikers to run as far during a match. On average, you can expect a striker to run around 5-6 miles in a really competitive game of soccer.
Who Are The Hardest Working Soccer Players?
Professional soccer players are some of the healthiest people in the world with incredible stamina. They are often compared to marathon runners because of the intense training.
Let’s take a look at some examples of the world’s hardest-working soccer players.
The French midfielder, N’golo Kante, is well-known for being one of the hardest working soccer players in the world. In the 2018/19 Premier League season, Kante covered an average of 7.33 miles per game, while playing for Chelsea.
Another Premier League legend, James Milner currently holds the record for the most ground covered in a single league match. While playing for Manchester City against Stoke City, Milner ran a staggering 8.42 miles. He broke the league record and earned himself a reputation for being one of the hardest workers in the league.
Whether you’re a center-back or center-forward, all soccer players have to work hard during a competitively-fought match. On average, though, you can expect outfield players to run distances of as much as 7 miles.
Bear that in mind next time you yell at a player on TV to work harder!