Running in soccer has various estimations based on the position of the player, the game time, types of soccer, age, and other factors. Besides, players don’t always have to run throughout the whole 90 minutes in a professional soccer match.
Players are also involved in other types of movement like jogging, jumping, and walking. As gameplay progresses, players often stand momentarily – especially the goalie who seldom runs like other players on the field.
Soccer, over the years, has developed practical ways to determine how far each player runs on the field of play through several forms of tracking technology.
In this article, we’ll examine the estimated distance covered by players in the different types of soccer. This is because these soccer variants have different field sizes.
How Far Do You Run In A Soccer Game?
As a soccer player, one can be expected to run an average of 7 – 10 miles in a match. This includes running in longer distances and short sprints. However, a goalie can’t cover such distance; he can only cover about 2 miles.
The position of a player on a field of play is directly proportional to the amount of distance they’re expected to cover.
Midfielders, by their expected style of play and field position, cover the most distances on a pitch.
While many would think defenders do not cover a lot of pitch ground because they’re required to protect the goal, they are only second to the midfielders in terms of the distances covered. The strikers (forward) do their running mostly upfront – they run on a moderate level.
The goalie is not necessarily required to make any long-distance runs and sprints like other players on the field. The goalie spends most of the time within the goal area and in the penalty area when the gameplay is more relaxed.
To get a better understanding of each position, as it relates to the average distance covered, let’s examine them individually.
On average, it is estimated that the goalie runs an average of 2 miles in a full soccer match. A more daring goalkeeper who likes to leave his lines may accumulate more miles than is expected.
The goalie, otherwise known as the goalkeeper, isn’t like other players on the field and as such, has limitations when it comes to running. His space is usually limited within the penalty box. Sometimes, he runs towards attackers approaching him and skillfully saves the ball.
However, there are instances where the goalie leaves the penalty area and heads towards the opponent’s goal area during a corner kick for a header or to score a goal.
A good example would be Mexican goalkeeper Ochoa Guillermo, who at the Russia 2018 World Group stage game against Germany, was recorded to have run 2.4 miles. Now that’s a lot of distance for a goalie!
They can run an average of 6 miles in a game. Notable defenders have been known to average about 7 miles per game. These sets of players are some of the most underestimated runners on the pitch!
Defenders, otherwise known as back-liners, make movements that protect the goalie from attackers who try to penetrate their defense.
Defenders’ style of play is to charge towards opponents and dispose of the ball by taking control of play in their half of the field, and then distribute to their teammates. They are heavily relied on in times of danger.
There are two central defenders ahead of the goalie in a typical soccer match. Most times, you’ll find these defenders maintain their position in the halfway line.
However, during freekicks and corners, they sometimes advance towards the opponent’s goal to assist the midfielders and forward.
When in possession of the ball, the wing-backs assist their teammates to penetrate the opponent’s half. They are expected to fall back to their ideal position and protect the goalie when the opponent poses more threats.
We can’t speak of professional defenders without a worthy mention of Sergio Ramos. His work in Real Madrid from 2005-2021 is beyond remarkable. Still using the Russia 2018 tournament as an example, Sergio Ramos ran an average of 25.7 miles in 4 games. If we take the games apart, it’s mind-blowing to see he ran an average of 6.4 miles in a game.
Marcos Alonso, Chelsea’s full-back in the 2016/17 Premier League season covered a distance of 7.2 miles, on average, in each match. As a defender, such distance meant he gave his all during each match. With such dedication in that season, he delivered more goals than some strikers.
These sets of players average 7 miles per game. By any standard, midfielders cover the most distances on the field of play.
The midfielders connect passes and also determine the pace of the defenders and the attackers in the field. Players like this occupy the number six, eight, and ten positions as central midfielders.
This particular type of midfielder supports defenders to avert threats from the opponents. They are also called defensive midfielders. Players like N’golo Kante from Chelsea and Fabinho from Liverpool are examples of number six midfielders.
The number eight midfielder moves by receiving the ball from defenders and distributing it to the strikers. Paul Pogba from Manchester United and Kevin from Manchester City occupy this position. Number eight midfielders must be fast and skilled at controlling the ball unless they might lose it to the opponent.
The number ten midfielders run in the field of play to support strikers. There are instances where they are more active than strikers/forwarders. They are also known as attacking midfielders or wingers and they attack from the side. Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard, and Cristiano Ronaldo occupy this position.
The winger’s position isn’t static; he can also fall back to support the defenders from the opposition during alarming moments. They possess great running skills that help them maneuver their way through the opponent’s defenders and score several goals.
Kante, Chelsea’s defensive midfielder ran an average distance of 7.2 miles in each match in the 2016/17 Premier League season. Christian Eriksen, Danmark’s attacking midfielder also ran an incredible distance of 7.4 miles.
They are otherwise known as attackers or forwarders. Their position makes them run an average of 5.6 miles to 6.2 miles. They are served by the midfielders and more is expected of their speed and skill when the opposition is in the lead.
Romelu Lukaku, representing his national side Belgium, covered a total distance of 26 miles in four Russia 2018 World Cup games. This put it at an average of 6.3 miles per match.
How Far Do Players Run In Different Types of Soccer Game?
There are different types of soccer games and they demand different paces on the field. This is because the pitch size and number of players differ.
Here’s how the other variants of soccer compare with the average distance covered by players.
In a 40 minutes match, it’s estimated that players run a distance of 2-3 miles per game. The field has a dimension of 50 yards in length and 30 yards in width.
This type of soccer includes 7 players on each team. A full match is played for 50 minutes and the players are known to cover a distance of 2-3 miles per match.
The players are known to cover an average of 3-5 miles per game. This type of soccer involves 9 players on each team. A full match is played for 60 minutes.
This is the typical professional soccer game that involves 11 players from each team. However, this game is grouped into several age categories, therefore, the time and field size for each of them differs.
For U13-U14 players who play for 70 minutes cover a distance of 4-6 miles per game. The U15-U16 players play for 80 minutes in a field covering a distance of 5-8 miles per game. The U17 and above players play for 90 minutes covering a distance of 6 miles to 10 miles per game.
How Far Do Premier League Players Run In A Game?
When it comes to the Premier League, players run a distance of 5.6 miles to 6.8 miles in each match. However, James Ward-Prowse from Southampton did something quite remarkable in the 2019-2020 Premier League season. He ran at an average of 7.2 miles in each game – no player had ever covered such distance.
Then Declan Rice from West Ham came second by running an average of 6.8 miles in each game. In 2020-21, Stuart Dallas from Leeds United ran better than his teammates at an average of 6.9 miles in each match. He plays the full-back and central midfielder for his team.
How Many Miles Does Messi Run In A Game?
Using the Champions League as a benchmark, he only runs a distance of 4.913 miles per game. This may be surprising to many, especially because his physique and size favor speed.
Most of Messi’s pitch movement is spent walking rather than running. He alone has figured out a way to effortlessly win matches with less movement and distance than other strikers. An amazing and talented player, Messi has carved a niche for himself in the world of professional soccer.
How Far Does Ronaldo Run Per Game?
Still, on the Champion’s League benchmark, Ronaldo has an average distance covered of 3.7 miles. He is no doubt one of the best to have ever played the game but this hasn’t stopped others from calling him a lazy striker.
If it’s anything to go by, the world’s best professional soccer players would rather focus more on strategy and tactics, than cover field distances.
Soccer is a game that requires running. The total distance covered will be determined by the following factors: age, time, position, and field size.
Statistics have shown that even the best players in professional soccer do not cover great field distances. This in no way makes the commitment of other players to the game irrelevant.
Total distance covered will always be a yardstick in determining a player’s presence on a soccer pitch.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!