Different positions determine where a player will play in soccer. Each of these positions is very crucial to the success of the team and they include the goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, and forwarder. Every player, in their position, has to run at one time or the other during a match.
However, the pace of each player differs depending on the age, total duration of time played, and field size. Yet it has been confirmed that the position that runs the most in the field of play is the midfielder. Join me as we explore the soccer position that runs the most, the pace of other players, and how they run in different types of soccer.
Which Soccer Position Runs The Most?
Midfielders are the players that run the most during a soccer match. Just as the name suggests, they are positioned in the center of the field to perform some specific duties. Sometimes, they run towards the opposition area and assist the forwarders by connecting the ball to them when needed.
They run an average of 9.5 miles. Their position has to be solid at all times. Any show of negligence on their part, the opposition can capitalize on it and attack their defenders to probably score a goal.
They also play a defensive role by running back to assist the defenders when the need arises; they would still have to redistribute the ball to their forwards. Midfielders must be fit because this position is very demanding.
Every position requires a certain amount of running throughout a soccer game. Some players assume a position that does not necessarily require continuous or regular running. Let’s examine how far each position runs in all types of soccer.
This is often regarded as professional soccer. It also comprises U13, U14, U15, and U16.
Players cover a distance of 4-6 miles every game for U13-U14 youngsters which have a match duration of 70 minutes. Soccer players cover a distance of 5-8 miles per game for the U15-U16 youngsters, who play for 80 minutes on the field.
U17 and above play the regular 90 minutes game. Here are the running distances for each of the positions.
Everyone knows that goalies are the least runners in a soccer game. By their responsibilities to keeping the goal area safe, they’re least afforded the luxury to make runs. At an average run distance of 2-3 miles per game, they occupy the bottom of the list as the least runners.
In the 18/19 Premier League season, Wolverhampton Wanderers goalie, Rui Patricio, had the highest average run distance of 3.3 miles (5.35km). This is a notable example of how much ground goalies can cover, on average, in a 90-minute game.
Defenders are the support pillars of the goalie during emergencies and they cover a distance of 4-7 miles in a soccer game. They are allowed to run around but are limited to staying on their half of the field most times during gameplay.
Chelsea defender César Azpilicueta, playing a total of 300 minutes in 4 matches so far in the 21/22 UEFA Champions League, has covered a distance of 21 miles. This puts his per match average at 5.2 miles. In the 2016/2017 Premier League season, Marco Alonso of Chelsea ran an average distance of 7.2 miles per game.
defenders run less than the wing defenders, however the former sprint more during an attack. Every defender must be fit to stand the pressure of an attack even though some defenders cover less distance than others in a full match.
As earlier stated, midfielders run the most in a game at a distance of 6-9 miles. This is feasible because the defenders and strikers need their support to perform well.
There are situations where midfielders have been known to cover up to 10 miles in a game. That’s why they expend most of their energy on the field and mostly get tired after a full match.
Worthy of recognition in the 2016/2017 Premier League is Christian Eriksen who ran an average of 7.4 miles (11.97km) per game in that season.
They are positioned around the opposition’s goal and penalty area. Also known as strikers or attackers, they cover a distance of 3-6 miles in a game. Their position allows them to run towards the opposition goal post to score a goal.
Prolific goal scorer, Robert Lewandowski, with just 4 matches played in the 2021/2022 UEFA Champions League, has averaged a running distance per game of 5.8 miles. He is often regarded as one of the best forwards to have graced the sport of soccer.
Professional soccer forwarders cover field grounds by utilizing skills such as dribbling, ball control, and shooting the ball on target. They may not be opportune to handle the ball often, but with the ball in their possession, they become active and utilize their running skill.
Verdict: In a standardized 11vs11 game of soccer, midfielders cover the most distance at any given time.
5v5 – Futsal
This type of soccer involves 5 players from each team. The players are projected to run a distance of 2-3 miles per game in a 40-minute encounter – with midfielders having the highest number of distance covered.
Goalies are not expected to leave their penalty area and as such, cover fewer pitch grounds. For a full 40-minute game, goalies make an average running distance of about a mile. Notable goalies are Luis Amado for Spain and Iranian futsal player Mostafa Nazari.
- Defender (Fixo)
They are also known as Fixo. They primarily protect the goal area and the goalie from opposition attacks. They run an estimated average distance of 2 miles per game. Notable mentions of Midfielders are Spanish futsal player Kike (Enrique Boned Guillot) and Brazilian player Schumacher (Flávio Sérgio Viana).
- Winger (Ala)
They play a similar role as midfielders in professional soccer. They run an average of 3-5 miles per game. This is because they are constantly switching roles moving forward and backward. Recognized wingers in the sport are Falcão (Alessandro Rosa Vieira).
They are also regarded as Topman or forward. They run more than goalies but less than other positions. The average running distance of 1-2 miles per game, depending on the nature of the game. Vahid Shamsaei of Iran and Konstantin Eremenko of Russia are notable examples of pivot players.
Verdict: The wingers cover the most distance in this sport. They have to help the pivot players and also fall back to assist the defenders when situations demand it.
Each team has seven players in this kind of soccer. The players are reported to run a distance of 2-3 miles each match throughout a full match, which lasts 50 minutes.
Positioned to protect the goal area, these players do not move much around the pitch. They often average a running distance of about 1 mile or less.
The strategic support for the goalkeepers, they guard the penalty area against impending attacks from the opposition. They cover reasonable grounds in trying to defend the goal area. They usually cover an average running distance of 2 miles.
Similar to what’s obtainable in 11v11, these players cover more pitch grounds than any other position on the field. They have to link gameplay between the defenders and the strikers. They have an estimated average running distance of 3 miles.
Also known as strikers, they are positioned closer to the opposition goal area. They cover lesser grounds than the midfielders. On average, they have a running distance of 1-2 miles.
Verdict: Midfielders make the most runs because of their strategic positioning between attackers and defenders. Of the estimated average distance covered by players, midfielders will make the highest recorded estimated average.
Players are known to run 3-5 miles every game on average. Each team has nine players for this form of soccer. A full 60-minute match takes place.
Goalkeepers usually do not leave the goal area. This means they do not cover much distance during play. They have an average running distance of 1-2 miles.
They have the second-highest running distance in a game. They average 3-4 miles to ensure the goal area is securely protected.
Midfielders overlap between the forward and defensive positions. This makes them cover more ground. Midfielders could clock in an average of 5 miles in just a 60-minute match period.
They’re responsible for ensuring ball passes between other field positions end up in a goal. They have a running distance average of about 3 miles.
Verdict: Midfielders, yet again, have the highest running distance per game than any other playing positions on the pitch.
Why Do Midfielders Run The Most?
Midfielders are trained to be the connecting link of their team and it is for this reason they cover more distances than the defenders, goalie, and forwarders. These are some of the major factors why midfielders run the most among other soccer positions.
1. Defender and forwarder role
midfielders are versatile in playing both the defensive and attacking role as gameplay progresses and they switch between these roles in different play situations. The midfielder performs both roles in the following ways:
- Chasing down opposing midfielders and strikers in deeper zones.
- Fall back during an emergency to cover up spaces that may be threatening.
- Tackle the opponent and block shots from penetrating the goalie area.
- He puts in more effort if the tactical situation calls for it.
- Maneuver into the opponent’s goal area and attempt to score a goal from corner kicks.
Midfielders take advantage of situations to quickly capitalize on an error made by the opponent’s defenders. They do this by quickly moving the ball skillfully before their teammates can cover ground back to their respective positions.
As this goes on, the team’s strikers intelligently navigate their way through the opponent’s defenders by avoiding an offside. As a result, strikers would cover lesser ground while the midfielders find openings to lay passes to them.
The midfielder’s tactical movement, when in possession of the ball towards the opposition goal area, can disorient the opposition’s defense, leaving openings for his strikers to penetrate. Rodrigo de Paul from Udinese is an ideal midfielder that exudes versatility in the field.
2. Sideways movement
The wing-back position requires a tremendous amount of running due to the long distances attached to it; therefore, offensive and defensive play is expected. However, lateral movement enables midfielders a competitive advantage over other positions in soccer.
Defensive midfielders, in dual or solo runs, may frequently transit laterally across the field to maintain their territory against the opposition during an attack.
Although wing-backs can move sideways, their movement is limited because they are closest to the goalie. The midfielder can assume a more lateral position and run farther by assisting them and pressing forward when the need arises.
3. High paced running
Midfielders typically make considerably greater motions at constant speeds than attackers and defenders, who cover the majority of their distance in a game by sprinting for a through ball or chasing down an opposing attacker.
Whenever a lone striker is stranded farther upfield, midfielders would often rush to fill holes and attack the opponent to protect the defensive line. Simultaneously, the defenders will most likely retain their line and closely mark the strikers.
Midfielders run the most in most soccer matches due to their position and responsibilities. It is no wonder that some of the best players to have graced the beautiful game of soccer have played in this position.
Across all types and variants of soccer, midfielders cover the most distance on the field of play. While every position is important to the overall success of gameplay, midfielders are the connecting factor that keeps gameplay entertaining for soccer fans and lovers.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. 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!