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How Strong Are Soccer Players?

How Strong Are Soccer Players?

Soccer is designed to be more tactical than physical. That explains why soccer teams are always spending millions of dollars to hire the best coaches—and are quick to replace a coach when he or she fails to deliver the tactical prowess that will help the team win matches.

Key Takeaways

  • Strength is required in soccer for shielding the ball.
  • Soccer is more about wits and techniques than muscles which is why soccer players don’t put too much effort into building muscles.
  • The strength of soccer players is better measured using other attributes like stamina, endurance, and speed.
  • Adebayo Akinfenwa is a rare soccer player with huge muscles and can lift 242 pounds of weight.

Ronaldo is cheering the goal

Although the emphasis of soccer is usually on tactics, there are times when soccer players need to muscle their way through the opponent’s defense or use their strength to prevent an opponent striker from getting a scoring opportunity.

This explains why soccer players usually have a hectic fitness routine. Strength training is usually part of the soccer training routine.

Studies have shown that attackers need strong quads to jump higher. For example, when Ronaldo’s jump was measured by a British documentary, they found out that when he jumps off both feet, he lifts 31 inches off the ground.

With such a jump height, Ronaldo can head the ball when it is eight and a half feet high. This allows him to tower above defenders and score goals with his head during corner kicks.

These instances have left some people asking, how strong are soccer players? If you are one of those that have been searching for answers, you find all of them below.

Virgil Van Dijk is marking Harry Kane

How strong are soccer players?

When compared to combat sports like wrestling and boxing, soccer players are not really the strongest. American football players are usually more physically built than soccer players.

So, judging by physical appearance, it is easy to conclude that soccer players are not strong. Although soccer is characterized as a contact sport, doing that will be like comparing a fish and a monkey to know which one is better at climbing trees.

The strengths of a soccer player are better analyzed by looking at their agility, speed, stamina, exercise routines, and endurance. However, there are soccer players with an intimidating physical build.

The position of soccer players usually determines how hard they work on their strengths. Soccer players that play the defensive role usually look stronger than those in the attacking position.

Also, it is unlikely to find a goalkeeper with huge muscles. The reason is that the more muscles you build, the less flexible you will become—and most soccer positions need flexible players.

Players that are not flexible will find it hard to make sharp turns which will make it easier for opponent soccer players to get behind them with ease. Also, while building lower body muscles can help to increase your pace, too much of it will slow you down too.

Nevertheless, some soccer players are really strong with thick intimidating muscles too. To give you a glimpse of how strong soccer players can be, we will turn to the video game FIFA 18 and look at their stats.

The elite soccer game rated Adebayo Akinfenwa as the strongest soccer player in the world with a strength of 99. The 5’11’’ tall player who goes by the moniker ‘Beast’ weighs 242 pounds. According to reports, he could lift a deadweight of over 400 pounds.

Romelu Lukaku was rated 95 in strength. Other huge soccer players that have stepped on the field in modern-day soccer include Givanildo Viera de Souza popularly known as Hulk, Tim Wiese, and Alexis Sanchez.

Limiting strength to muscle mass alone is really not a proper representation and will make a mockery of the hard work pro-soccer players undergo to get where they are. Apart from physical appearance, let us look at other criteria that can be used to better determine how strong soccer players are.


Soccer players are required to move quickly and make decisions in a split second. This requires a lot of mental strength and weeks of training to perfect.

Shorter players like Lionel Messi often find themselves facing taller players like Virgil Van Dijk. It takes a lot of physical and mental agility to overcome such an opponent when the physical attributes are against you.

That is probably the beauty of soccer. Unlike other contact sports, soccer accommodates players of all sizes and heights. Considering the importance of agility to the sport, soccer players usually put in lots of hours in training to boost their agility.

If you judge soccer players’ strength based on agility, you will discover that soccer players are stronger than athletes in sports like wrestling. However, if you focus your judgment on size alone, soccer players will not come close to wrestlers.

Messi are trying to escape from the defenders


If you look at strength based on speed, you will discover that soccer players are arguably the fastest athletes after short-distance runners. The world fastest man Usain Bolt had a speed of 44.26 km/h (27.5 mph) which is the fastest a living person has ever run.

However, soccer is becoming increasingly fast-paced and clubs are always on the lookout for faster soccer players. Antonio Rudiger is credited as one of the fastest soccer players with a speed of 36.7 km/h (22.8 mph).

Adama Traore and Mohamed Salah come second and third with a speed of 36.6 km/h (22.74 mph). While the gap between the speed of the fastest sprinter is significantly larger than that of the fastest soccer player, it is easy to understand why.

Salah is running towards the soccer ball

However, soccer players can be considered stronger than short distance sprinters when you consider the distance covered.

While what is considered the longest sprint is 800 meters long, soccer players cover between 7 and 10 miles per game. An average sprinter will not last that long before they run out of steam.


Stamina is the ability of soccer players to last the entire 90 minutes of the game without showing signs of fatigue. Soccer is one of the most mentally and physically challenging sports—and it takes a great deal of strength to last to the end of the game.

Stamina can also be seen by how much soccer players resist losing the ball to the opponent. Sometimes they use their upper body to shield the ball. This is arguably one of the times that you will see soccer players use their physical strength to their advantage.

Stamina doesn’t come cheap. Soccer players put in long hours of work and use different strategies to increase their stamina.

Part of the reason why soccer players usually have better stamina compared to athletes of other closely-related sports boils down to the rules of the game. In sports like basketball and American football, for example, there is no limit to the number of allowed substitutions.

In soccer, only five substitutes are allowed (previously three but was increased after the COVID-19 pandemic). That means the majority of the players that started the game will have to finish it.

Therefore, due to the rules of the game, soccer players work twice as hard as athletes of other sports to build their stamina. So, when you think of strength in terms of stamina, soccer players will easily come out at the very top.

Ronaldo are trying to kick the soccer ball

Exercise routines

Soccer players are stronger than athletes of various other sports in terms of their exercise routine. Soccer players train for over 30 hours every week.

However, it is just about the number of hours they invest in their training but also the different types of training they engage in. A typical soccer training session will usually include speed training, agility training, ball control, and shooting.

It takes a great deal of mental strength to take all that in one session. Compared to sprinters, for example, soccer players are mentally stronger.

Soccer players work on developing a variety of skills while sprinters only work on increasing their speed. Therefore, while a soccer player can easily become a professional sprinter, it will be more difficult for a sprinter to become a professional soccer player.

There is no better example to justify this claim than Usain Bolt’s short stint with soccer. So, we can say soccer players are stronger than sprinters because they handle more diverse training.

kids practice kicking soccer ball in a soccer academy


Soccer players have to be on their feet and move around for the entire 90 minutes of the game. They cover long distances and have to alternate their movement between sprinting, jogging, and walking throughout the game.

This requires a great deal of endurance. There is a link between endurance and stamina. A player’s endurance is determined by their stamina.

Since soccer players work hard to build their stamina, it is not surprising that soccer players are usually the most enduring athletes.

One of the ways soccer players increase their endurance is by incorporating cardiovascular exercises in their training.

Salah trying to reach the soccer ball in the match



Physically, soccer players may look pale or simply fit and will easily be categorized among the not-so-strong athletes. However, when you consider strength beyond just physical build, you will discover that soccer players are some of the strongest athletes in the world.

The reason why soccer players don’t spend so much time building physical strength is that soccer is more of a game of wits and techniques rather than muscle. Having too much physical muscle in the game can make you less flexible thereby making it easier for your opponents to get behind you.

Nevertheless, there are some soccer players that really stand out because of their physical build. The majority of physically build soccer players like Romelu Lukaku play in the forward position where they use their physical strength to outmuscle defenders and create scoring chances.

So, it is safe to say that soccer players are really strong—but not in the way that people interpret the word.