During a game, soccer players are constantly running on a field that covers up to 80,000 square feet. With so much movement required by each player, you might be wondering how far soccer players run. To help you figure it out, I’ve looked at the numbers and worked out the number of miles a player runs in a game.
Soccer players run an average of 5 miles in a game. The distance a player covers depends on their position on the field. Goalies run the least, and midfield players often run the most as they are responsible for covering the entire field. The maximum distance a soccer player runs in a game is 8.5 miles.
Throughout this post, I’ll cover:
- How far a soccer player runs (including by position),
- The factors that affect how far a player runs
- How players prepare for the amount of running required
- and how you can improve your own running performance on the soccer field.
Let’s get started!
How Far Does a Soccer Player Run In a Game?
Soccer players run more than most athletes.
One kick of the ball is enough to send the players on both teams running from one end of the pitch to the other, and it happens repeatedly.
There are very few breaks throughout a game, which keeps the players engaged for as long as the clock keeps running. But this lack of breaks means they have to run several miles every game to keep up with their opponents on such a big field.
To figure out how far a soccer player runs, let’s look at a real-world example.
Helpfully, Sky Sports have provided the statistics for how far each English Premier League player ran throughout the 2019/2020 soccer season.
The English Premier League is one of the top soccer leagues in the world so this should give us an accurate representation of how far the players run.
The table below shows the top 20 players that ran the most throughout the Premier League season. You can also see the total amount of miles these players ran throughout the season.
|Player||Team||Distance Covered (in miles)|
If we add into the table the total number of games they played in a season and take the average distance covered by these top 20 players in a game, we can see that they ran an average of around 5 miles per game between them.
|Player||Team||Distance Covered (in miles)||Games played||Average distance per game|
|Average distance covered per game||5.0965 Miles|
While running an average of 5 miles per game throughout a season is impressive, there are individual games where a player will run even further.
The table below shows the Premier League players that ran the furthest in one individual game throughout the same season.
The table also shows the distance they ran.
|Player||Team||Miles run in a single game|
As you can see, some players can run up to 8 miles during a single soccer game.
Miles Soccer Players Run by Position
Having looked at the distances covered by all the players, it’s also helpful to break down the distances run by the player’s position on the field.
This is one way of seeing how much difference a player’s position makes to the amount of running they do in a game.
Goalies Run About Two Miles
Goalkeepers typically run up to two miles in a game. Although occasionally, it can be more.
They’re not required to run across the field because their primary purpose is to defend shots from their opponents in front of the goal.
If the goalie goes too far from their goal net, they’ll leave it open for the opposing team to score an easy goal.
Defensive Players Run Around 4.5 Miles in a Game
While they don’t cover as much distance as offensive players, defenders still run quite a bit.
Their 4.5-mile average keeps them ready to defend the goal if the goalie needs assistance, but they can also pass and push forward with the offensive team.
A defensive player typically stays on their half of the field, but the side-to-side distance of the field is large compared to many other sports fields.
Offensive Players Run Further Than Other Players
Offensive players, including midfielders, undoubtedly cover more of the field than any other player.
They’re all over the place and don’t have as many limitations as goalies and defenders.
While their primary purpose is to put pressure on the other team, they can come back and defend a shot if needed.
Their end-to-end coverage demands optimal performance from start to finish.
Stats website, statsperform.com, even claims to have even tracked some players running as far as 9.5 miles per day.
Three More Factors That Influence How Far Players Run In a Soccer Game
Although a player’s position in the team has a significant impact on the distance they run, three other factors also play a role in determining the miles run by a player.
- The duration of the game
- The amount of time a player is involved in the game
- The age of the player
Duration of the Game
We all know that a soccer game should be 90 minutes long.
But you are probably also aware that a game often runs longer than this.
Stoppage time plays a role in increasing the length of a game.
When there are injuries and stoppages throughout a game, the referee will add the lost time onto the end of the half.
This extra time gives the players more time to keep running and covering more distance.
Overtime in soccer, or “extra time” as it is more commonly known, adds an extra 30 minutes of playing time onto a game.
This extended time requires the players to keep running for much longer than they would otherwise have had to run.
An extra 30 minutes will easily add on another one mile of running for many players.
Time a Player Is Involved in a Game
The amount of time a player is involved in a game will also significantly impact the distance a player will run.
Substitutions are what make the difference here.
Likewise, if a player starts the game on the bench and only comes on for the final few minutes, they may not even run a single mile during the game.
Age of the Players
The last factor is the age of the players.
Adult players run more miles in a game than youth players.
An adult professional player is not only expected to play soccer for a minimum of 90 minutes at a time, but they will also cover ground faster than a younger player.
A youth soccer player will typically be involved in games that are much shorter than an adult game. The reason for this is because youth players don’t have the stamina of older players.
The reduced length of games means younger players don’t have the opportunity to run as many miles in a game as an adult soccer player.
If you’re curious how these athletes manage to stay in shape and run almost so far each game, read on.
What Do Soccer Players Do to Prepare for Running So Much?
These athletes have intense fitness routines to stay in peak shape.
Exercise is undoubtedly one of the main reasons soccer players can perform at such high levels, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.
They need to be prepared with rest, proper hydration, a good diet, and more.
Let’s cover the three-step routine every successful soccer athlete needs below.
- Base your training schedule on how many times you play a game weekly. Some soccer players go to a match once weekly, while others have two games a week. Those who play twice weekly could cut their training down to two times per week if they heavily hit the sprints and leg exercises. There’s more than enough cardio in two 5-mile matches!
- Rest is essential and irreplaceable. Sportsnet claims every soccer player should take the day off following a game. Regardless of how often you play, you’ll need to relax your muscles and kick back for a day before getting back to your training routine.
- Eating, sleeping, and drinking water to meet your bodily needs is essential. You won’t see any progress if you’re not eating enough calories with an even share of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Drinking water keeps your muscles moving, and sleeping promotes growth. These three ingredients are required for all athletes.
Soccer players follow detailed schedules to improve their performance. However, once they get it down, it becomes second nature to hit the field with explosive sprints followed by lots of healthy rest periods.
How Many Miles Should a Soccer Player Run Every Day?
Staying in shape is crucial for soccer players, even in the off-season.
Contrary to popular belief, they don’t have to run miles and miles every day to do the same on game day.
Instead, they focus on building and maintaining their leg muscles, heart, and lungs with quick bursts.
One of the best ways to implement this training regimen is on a big field with cones.
- Soccer players should focus on short bursts rather than long-distance running. The NFHS lists a handful of helpful exercises soccer players should follow to keep their bodies ready for extensive games. It’s best to sprint for 50 yards, rest for a minute, then sprint for another 50, and so on.
- Jogging two to three miles three times per week is a good goal when paired with sprints. You can break the miles into five chunks to make them more manageable while building stamina. Switch between running half of a mile and sprinting the previously mentioned 50-yard distance for optimal results.
- Don’t wait too long in between jogging and sprinting; Endurance is crucial to your success on the field. While you should avoid losing too much weight by running for hours on end, prolonged resting between sprints can be detrimental. Your muscles will enter recovery, making it much more challenging to hit the track again.
Soccer players don’t have to train all day, every day, to stay in shape.
In fact, too much exercise can ruin the results and make them look more like a track runner than a soccer player.
Instead, they need to be prepared to explode on the field at any given moment, which calls for a combination of endurance and leg strength.
Improving Your Own Performance on the Soccer Field
If you’re interested in performing at an increased fitness level, I recommend checking out my 30-Day Soccer Guide.
I created this daily, step-by-step fitness program specifically to help soccer players get fit or give their fitness levels a boost.
The program is formed around a HIIT-based workout program, which is precisely what the professionals use.
In just one month, you could see your fitness levels exponentially increase and significantly increase your impact during a soccer game.
Soccer players are some of the most conditioned athletes worldwide.
They require optimal heart, lung, and leg muscle functionality if they want to achieve the desired results.
Therefore, running for miles in a game is far from rare, especially if you include overtime!
Check out my article – Why Long Distance Running is Bad for Soccer Players – if you want to discover how players can run long distances in a game without running long distances in training!