Amongst all the team sports in existence, soccer is one of the sports that merges short, average, and tall players in the same team. There is a role for everyone regardless of their height. In fact, some positions in soccer favor short players while other positions favor taller players.
Unlike ice hockey or bobsleigh which is only played in a few selected countries, soccer is a global game with fans and players cut across the globe. Well, there is a clear disparity in the average height of people from different continents.
According to Bone Science journal, Europeans have the tallest men (1.80 m on average) while South, South-East Asia has the shortest men (1.64 m on average). The same trend can be found in the height of women which is 1.67 m and 1.53 m respectively.
So, when you ask a question like ‘how tall is the average soccer player?’, the answer will depend on the country. The height of an average soccer player in South America will differ significantly from that of a soccer player from Europe.
Each position has its unique requirements and some specific height ranges are suitable for certain positions on the pitch. Players often perform better when their height suits their position on the soccer pitch.
Tall players often play better as goalkeepers and defenders while average to shorter players are mostly good as attackers and wingers because they often run faster.
In this article, we have discussed how tall average soccer players usually are and the position that best suits them to play on the pitch.
How tall is the average soccer player?
Globally, men are generally taller than women of the same age and nationality, therefore, men’s soccer teams are usually taller than women’s soccer teams. Female basketball players might disagree with this point even though it is true.
Determining the average height of soccer players may be a difficult task. It will require taking the height of all the soccer players around the globe and working out the average—and we are talking of over 200 million soccer players.
The only close study that tried to find the average height of soccer players was done at the 2018 World Cup. According to the study, the average height of players that participated in the tournament was 1.82 meters.
However, it would be wrong to use this figure as a representation of the average height of soccer players around the world. The reason is simply that only a handful of countries make it to the World Cup. So that figure is not a proper representation of soccer players around the world.
The reason for that high number may be because more countries with tall players qualified for the tournament that year. As you might have figured out already, Europeans are thought to be the tallest in the world with an average height of 1.80 m.
That means an average player at the 2018 World Cup is still taller than an average European. So, how is this possible when we know that there are lots of short players in the game?
Generally, any height of between 1.78 m to 1.80 m is considered average. To get a more accurate comparison, we think it is better to focus on the height of players in relation to their position.
How tall is the average soccer player in different positions?
Players that play in the wide and attacking positions are relatively short, having an average height of around 1.53 m to 1.73 m for males and 1.41 m to 1.65 m for females.
Players in this category are known for their low center of gravity which is an advantage for the positions. Short soccer players are strategically placed on the pitch by soccer coaches.
Wide players have a high work rate and are very quick, all thanks to their height which is a great advantage. During a game, they are likely to run up and down the sides of the pitch.
They can move quickly, and also cover their positions better with the ball due to their height. Lorenzo Insigne is one of the shortest attackers in professional soccer with a height of 1.65 m. He is among one of the best attackers in Serie A.
Some other great, short professional players include Bernard Ludovic (1.64 m), Shaun Wright-Philip (1.65 m), Lionel Messi (1.70 m), Eden Hazard (1.73 m), and so on.
Nevertheless, there have been exceptionally tall forwards in the history of the game. This includes Zinedine Zidane (1.85 m), Thierry Henry (1.88 m), Peter Crouch (2.01 m), and Abby Wambach (1.80 m),
Players that play in the forward, midfielders, defenders, and center-back positions are mostly tall as their height is an advantage when it comes to heading and defending.
Most of the world’s best midfielders and defenders are taller than average and they are known to possess a high level of technical ability.
The central defense requires extra height. This is because players in this position constantly deal with high balls and crosses during a game. Therefore, heading ability is paramount for effective play.
The average height of defenders falls in the range of 1.85 m to 2.03 m for males and 1.66 m to 1.83 m for females.
Goalkeepers are also known to be taller than other average players which enables them to properly cover the vast range of the goal post.
They are tall enough such that their total reach while they dive or jump and their total arm span permits them to parry balls away. Sometimes, people often ask if only tall players are capable of becoming goalkeepers.
Height is an essential attribute for goalkeepers. Many professional goalkeepers have an average height range of 1.78 m to 2.10 m. Examples of goalkeepers within this height range include Gyula Grosics (1.78 m), Andreas Isaksson (2.00 m), and Kristof van Hout (2.08 m).
No doubt, most amateur goalkeepers often wish to be as tall as Paul Millar, Kristof Van Hout, and the likes, because they believe height makes you a better goalkeeper.
Well, being a good goalkeeper is more than just about height. Focus on the drills that help you to build skills and anticipation and you may just become taller in the process.
While seeking ways to grow taller as a soccer player, it should interest you to know that over the years, the world’s best soccer players haven’t always come from the tallest.
Height has its place in soccer but skills and talent are often more important than height alone. A player who is tall without skills will find it difficult to tackle or stop an average or short player with skills on the pitch.
Have you ever closely observed the two best players in the history of soccer (Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo)? They possess different heights and attributes but they keep making their teams proud with their exceptional skills and inbuilt talent.
Soccer accommodates all types of heights. Generally, soccer players are not as tall as basketball players or as physically built as American football players.
When measuring the success of soccer players, their skillsets and attributes are mostly considered—and not their height. That should encourage you to pursue a career in soccer regardless of your height.
However, when pursuing a career in soccer, pick your position carefully, bearing in mind that your height can give you an edge if you play in certain positions. Nevertheless, you can excel in any position regardless of your height.
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!