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Why Are Soccer Players So Skinny?

Why Are Soccer Players So Skinny?

When talking about soccer, we are referring to association football, the “king of all sports” played by adults, teenagers, and children.

Soccer can be played at different levels: from kickabout between colleagues to international stages between elite athletes and clubs.

The game of soccer involves a lot of sprinting, jumping, kicking, dribbling, and other similar swift actions. Perhaps, this is the reason why soccer players are so skinny—or could there be more?

Soccer players need to be flexible because soccer involves numerous twists and turns. Being skinny helps players in attaining the needed level of flexibility.

Some people think soccer players look somewhat lanky and malnourished. But are soccer players malnourished? The Body Mass Index (BMI) chart shows us that a healthy individual should have a BMI between 18.5 – 25.

Most soccer players are far ahead of 18.5 which is the minimum level for healthy people.

As professional athletes, soccer players usually maintain an average Body Mass Index by following strict fitness and nutrition regimens.

Most soccer players, especially those at the higher levels of the game, tend to have a similar fit physique and a skinny figure.

Unlike NFL and basketball players, soccer players also look muscular but not overly muscled.

In the rest of this article, we shall be looking at the physique of soccer players from a professional viewpoint and whether being skinny gives them any competitive advantage.

Skinny soccer player is practicing

Why are soccer players so skinny?     

Although most soccer players look similar in size and physique, there are still those who have managed to look fleshy or muscular without it affecting the quality of their gameplay.

Players like England’s Wayne Rooney and Wycombe Wanderer’s Saheed Adebayo Akinfenwa a.k.a. Beast Mode Akinfenwa are perfect examples of professional soccer players who look different.

Soccer players are not always skin and bones like marathon runners. This is because soccer players put more effort into developing their leg muscles and upper bodies to adapt to the physical requirements of the game.  

If soccer only requires running around the field for the entire 90 minutes and nothing contrary then being skinny without having properly trained muscles would just be perfect for the game.

Salah is running towards the soccer ball

Soccer requires other activities like striking, stopping, sprinting, sliding, tackling, nodding, jumping, dribbling, and shielding which needs something more than just being skinny.

Having a strong upper body in soccer has its perks which include power generation, better confidence for acrobatics, and improved stamina when shielding the ball.

Being ripped as a soccer player would also make you more money from endorsements. There are lots of benefits attached to having a vigorous-looking physique as a soccer player.

To understand better why soccer players look the way they do, we shall be taking a look at the nature of their daily diet.

Soccer players diet

As the saying goes, “What you put into your body will determine what you get out of it”.

Nutritional needs differ among soccer players based on not just the player involved but also the positions they play.

Soccer players are conditioned to meticulously stick to a nutrition plan as seriously as their pre-game training.

In the early days of soccer, players didn’t have a diet or nutrition plan. Then, players could wolf down a whole chicken with a few bottles of beer before a training session.

Diet and nutrition programming was introduced to condition, toughen, and help soccer players become more productive and generally healthy.

Apart from eating cereal and biscuits before a match, soccer players also eat eggs, oily fish, spinach, blueberries, beetroot, broccoli, and pasta.

a soccer player eats vegetable and cherry tomatoes

From the interview, it is obvious that the goal of every pre-match meal was to increase the player’s carbohydrate energy stores.

About 2-3 hours before a professional match, players are expected to consume a carbohydrate-rich meal with a moderate protein intake.

Meals that are low in fat, fiber, and moderate in protein are taken by players to minimize having gastro-intestinal issues like stomach cramps and bloating during the match.

Examples of carbohydrate sources for soccer players:  

  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Bread
  • Flavored yogurt

If a player is sure of playing the whole 90 minutes, they eat carbohydrate-laden snacks like granola, banana, and flapjack, 60 minutes before kickoff.

After playing a rigorous match, players recover by repairing, replenishing, and rehydrating.

  • Repairing

After a match, players consume about 20-30 grams of high-quality essential amino-acids-rich protein. This helps in speeding up the muscle-building process.

  • Replenishing

For a faster recovery, players include carbohydrate serving within their post-match nutrition.

  • Rehydrating

To restore a depleted hydrated state, players drink fluids (energy water or fruit juice) during breaks. Milk or electrolyte tablets added to water are also a preferable option.

Training Routine of Soccer Players

The training of soccer players also has a lot to do with their physique. The rigorous training and the frequencies of the training sessions all contribute to why soccer players are so skinny.

Soccer player in training course

How often do pro soccer players train?

Players train close to 30 hours per week during the pre-season and regular season. The time of the year has a huge influence on training schedules.

The off-season can have light training lasting for only 2-3 weeks per year.

Players typically train early in the morning and after lunch. Morning sessions involve gym workouts, warm-ups, speed and agility work, and muscle activation.

The calendar year for pro soccer players has 3 seasons namely Pre-season, Regular season, and Off-season.

Pre-Season Training

This training is frequent, intense, and requires additional recovery sessions. Starting mildly, it builds towards heavy workouts involving laborious running.

The major aim of this training is to help players reach maximum fitness levels with a low risk of possible injuries as they prepare for the commencement of the season. Players can train 3 times in a single day.

Regular Season Training

Although training days are dictated by the next game or the time of the year, some pro-soccer players normally train privately before team training days.

When a team doesn’t have any midweek games, they mostly spend Monday to Friday preparing for a weekend match.

Warm up in soccer training

At such times, the midweek training is very intense because they focus on increasing the player’s speed, skill work, and strength. Midweek training takes a tactical turn as game day approaches to avoid player burnout.

Off-Season Training

During off-season training, some players hire nutrition experts and personal trainers to travel with them to their chosen locations.

Most pro-soccer players try their best to stay fit and healthy during this period. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, has personal trainers hired to train him at such times.

Pros understand that for a player to attain the peak in their career, they must be diligent and consistent in doing the right things even when nobody’s watching.

Now that we have looked at soccer player’s diet and training routines, we can move onto discussing the Pros and Cons of being skinny in soccer.

Pros of being skinny in soccer

  • Skinny players have a lower chance of experiencing fatigue
  • Skinny players are more athletic and can easily meander through defensive line
  • They are often healthier than chubby players
  • Skinny players have the higher muscle strength

Cons of being skinny in soccer 

  • Increased risk of malnutrition
  • Osteoporosis resulting from too little vitamin D and calcium
  • Reduced immune function
  • Higher risk of complications during surgery
  • Female soccer players may experience fertility issues due to irregular menstrual cycles

Why do soccer players have skinny legs?

soccer player with skinny legs

The legs are the most important tools to a soccer player, so, they train them to become the best possible version of legs in the game.

Professional level soccer players need to have skinny legs with big rippling muscles. This feature improves stamina and shooting power. 

Besides the obvious benefits of the game, soccer players need skinny legs with well-built muscles to boost their modeling and endorsement opportunities because they look better in front of the camera.

Players train their leg muscles by constantly jogging, jumping, and doing short sprints. Players usually train their leg muscles to do the following:

  • Increase endurance
  • Improve flexibility
  • Attain higher jumps
  • More power
  • Better acceleration/deceleration
  • Increase speed

Well-built leg muscles are very important in soccer if a player wants to excel. Let’s take a closer look at the role of skinny legs in the game of soccer.

Increase Speed

An average of 7 – 10 miles is run by soccer players per game. Having skinny legs with strong muscles enables soccer players to cover more distance per game. Also, the skinnier the legs, the lower the drag when they run.

Wales National team player Gareth Bale currently holds the record for the highest speed ever recorded in soccer with a speed of 39.9km/h (24.79mph).

Soccer player dribbling the ball

Better Acceleration and Deceleration

Soccer players must work on their acceleration and deceleration within a short distance. Being able to speed up, slow down, stop, and switch directions on purpose is imperative in soccer.

Fast-twitch fibers in the leg muscles are what enable players to make explosive movements like acceleration and deceleration in soccer.

More Power

Leg power is needed to successfully perform numerous on and off-ball techniques and movements like a short sprint, vertical jump, kicking, and general balance.

Soccer players fighting for the ball

Attain Higher Jumps

Having players who can jump higher than other players on a soccer team is very valuable. They can grossly improve a team’s overall performance.

Many opportunities will come both offensively and defensively during a game where high jumpers will be most needed.

Powerful and sturdy leg extensors are what make it possible for soccer players to jump higher. It’s harder to build muscles when you are fat. It is not surprising that the first step to building muscles is usually to lose fats.

Improve Flexibility  

Flexibility is a unique trait to possess in soccer, the more flexible a player is, the better.

Although flexibility is not as important in soccer as it is in gymnastics, it is an added advantage.

It largely determines if a player will win or lose a ball and sometimes even determines if they can score goals from tight angles.

A player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic has shown us in numerous instances why it is important to be flexible in soccer.

Soccer player try to passes the opponent

Increase Endurance

Soccer players suffer high volumes of collision and impact on their legs during sport-based activities.

They train, treat, and rest their leg muscles adequately to prevent sustaining grave injuries.

How to get skinny muscular legs like your favorite players?

gym is the way to get skinny muscular legs

Aside from making you look good in a pair of shorts, well-developed leg muscles help in maintaining a healthy body.

Here is your guide through your journey of attaining seamlessly-looking skinny legs like your favorite soccer players.

When people work out in gyms, they often neglect their legs and concentrate more on their upper body which leads to having thin, frail legs.

We will help you solve this generic problem if you read on.

Below are some leg workout plans you can practice at home or in the gym:

10 MINUTE FAT BURNING MORNING ROUTINE | Do this every day | Rowan Row


Free weight squats are good for beginners. From free weights, you can move to add weights.

Squats help in increasing lower body volume and strength. It works on your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads, all at once.


This exercise increases the overall size of the lower body, making it symmetric to your upper body. As a beginner, proceed from light to heavyweights.

Deadlift helps strengthen the back muscle and leads to better posture. You simply cannot ignore adding a deadlift to your next exercise routine—when you think you are physically and mentally prepared to handle it.


Lunges are very effective at making the weak and strong body muscles balance with each other. It focuses more on your glutes and quads.

It works on the calf muscles and increases the core stability of the body.

Calf Raise

Some people have genetically underdeveloped calf muscles. The best way to correct this defect is by going heavyweight on calf workouts.

Training the calf helps in maintaining high resistance to strain and pressure. Taking sitting or standing exercises twice a week is vital for proper calf muscle development.

Who is the skinniest soccer player?

Angel Fabian di Maria and Neymar da Silva Santos Junior are two of the famous skinny players in soccer.

Neymar stands at 5 foot 9 inches with an approximate weight of 150 pounds. He primarily plays as either a winger or central striker and occasionally as an attacking midfielder.

Di Maria measures 5 foot 9 inches with a weight of 165 pounds. Often regarded as one of the world’s top wingers, he can play as a winger or an attacking midfielder.

Being skinny doesn’t stop Di Maria and Neymar from playing top-notch soccer on the field.

They successfully take on opponents that look double their body size. Indeed, you can find a lot of skinny players in soccer who are good at what they do.

Top 10: Peter Crouch goals | Scissor kicks, top bins and towering headers

Another soccer player who appears on many skinny players rankings is English soccer star Peter James Crouch.

He is 6 foot 7 inches tall and weighs 156 pounds (70.6 kgs). Peter Crouch is 18.5 on the IBM chart making him the skinniest known soccer player.

Despite his skinny physique, he has scored many international goals by leveraging his height.

Can a skinny person play soccer?

Soccer at professional levels needs players who can run for miles at a consistent speed. It also needs players who can run short sprints, kick, head, slide, etc.

Being skinny helps a lot with running because fat people succumb to fatigue faster from running than skinny people. We will help you understand why skinny people are very good for soccer.

Understanding the game

Soccer is physically and mentally demanding and seeks many attributes from players. Players who are not in top form can easily be spotted during gameplay.

Players normally get very tired after a long period of play due to fatigue which can’t be controlled—only managed.

One other major requirement in soccer is for players to strengthen their muscles to the core whether athletic or skinny. Strengthening muscles is not an easy task, it requires many years of playing and training.

Training the core muscles enables players to gain physical strength even if they are skinny. Some players practice yoga to help them in strengthening their core muscles.

Well-built muscles enable players to twist and turn effortlessly without easily running out of breath or losing their balance. This can make the difference between scoring that decisive goal or crashing to the ground when your team needs you to seal the game.

Skinny soccer player in the training course


Playing soccer at a professional level doesn’t have much to do with one’s body size or structure. Rather, soccer is more about skills, tactics, dexterity, determination, and your decision-making abilities on and off the ball.

Gaining a little weight and joining a gym club might do you a lot of good if you are skinny and trying to become a pro soccer player.