Have you ever sat back and wondered, “how many miles do soccer players run in a game?” The average is about 7 miles in a 90-minute match. But, there’s more to it than that including the age and position of the player.
Key Takeaways From This Article:
- The average professional soccer player runs 7 miles in 90 minutes.
- The average youth soccer player will run about 4-5 miles in an 80-minute game.
- The distance is determined by age, length of game, and position.
- Players can see how many miles they run with a GPS tracker specifically for soccer.
A player’s distance is usually a good reflection of their work rate. Players who run more, tend to be on the ball more. This isn’t always the case but I often see a correlation.
In this article, we’ll break it down by position and provide some tips on how you can build more stamina and speed.
How Far Does the Average Player Run?
On average, a player will cover approximately seven miles per match. This includes a combination of sprinting, running, jogging, and walking.
The distance that a soccer player runs during a match is typically dependent on the field size and their position. For example, there is a big difference between what a midfielder covers on the field compared to the goalkeeper. There’s also a major variance between the distance covered on an 11v11 field compared to a 9v9 field.
Each type of soccer player has different responsibilities when it comes to distance traveled during a match so let’s take a look at each position.
How Far Does a Striker Run?
Strikers are mainly responsible for scoring goals for their team. They are constantly fielding passes from their midfielders and attacking the opposing defense.
On average, strikers (or forwards) will run around 4-5 miles per game.
The distance they cover will be determined by the style of play during the match. If the opposing team is always on the attack then the striker would be running less.
How Far Does a Midfielder Run?
Midfielders are often considered the engine of the team as they tend to be in many places on the soccer field. Some midfield positions have to go from box-to-box and require offensive and defensive skills.
In many cases, the team’s midfielder will have traveled the most amount of distance during a game. They typically run 7-8 miles over 90 minutes.
How Far Does a Defender Run?
Defenders are responsible for protecting their own goal and preventing their opponents from scoring. To do this successfully, defenders are often running back and forth across the pitch to prevent offensive attacks.
Defenders usually travel 5-7 miles per game. The range accounts for a coach’s match tactics. Some coaches will want his or her backs to extend up the sideline and attack. While a defensive-minded coach will want four across to defend the opposing team from scoring.
How Far Does a Goalkeeper Run?
It’s no surprise the goalkeepers usually have less distance to cover than other players on the field.
During a single game, keepers typically run around .5-1.5 miles.
Professional Players vs Youth Players
Professional soccer players are known to run an average of 7 miles per game, with midfielders covering the most distance. However, the distance that youth players run in a game can vary widely depending on their level of fitness, age, and playing position.
For example, youth players who play in recreational leagues may only run 1 to 2 miles per game, while those who play at a higher level may run up to 4 or 5 miles per game. Now that my son wears a STATsports vest, I can confirm that he runs about 5 miles per game but I’ve also seen 7.8 miles!
Impact of Tactics on Distance Covered
The tactics employed by a team can have a significant impact on the distance covered by soccer players during a game. Here are some ways tactics can influence the distance covered:
Teams that prioritize possession of the ball tend to cover less distance than those that play a more direct style.
This is because possession-based tactics involve a lot of short passes and movement off the ball, which can be less physically demanding than constantly chasing long balls.
Midfielders may cover the most ground in possession-based tactics, as they are responsible for moving the ball around the field and creating opportunities.
Teams that play a counter-attacking style may cover more ground than possession-based teams because they rely on quick transitions from defense to attack.
This can involve long sprints up the field, which can be physically demanding.
Forwards may cover the most distance in counter-attacking tactics, as they are often the ones leading the break.
Teams that deploy a high-pressing style, where they aim to win the ball back as soon as possible after losing it, may cover more ground than those that sit back and defend.
This is because pressing involves a lot of running and closing down space quickly.
Defenders may cover the most ground in pressing tactics, as they are often the ones tasked with winning the ball back.
How to Track a Soccer Player’s Distance During Game
Tracking distance for soccer players is made easier with modern technology and GPS-enabled apps.
This is a wearable device on your soccer cleat that measures important data for soccer players.
- Fits well on the cleat so you don't have to wear it on your body
- Measures physical and technical data (such as kick velocity)
- Withstands all weather conditions
- Don't need GPS or Wi-Fi signal for data collecting
There are many apps such as Playermaker Smart Soccer Tracker and CATAPULT ONE that allow you to track the distance, top speed, and even sprints of each player during a game. This can be beneficial when training or just trying to analyze how much distance is covered for efficiency.
Here’s our collection of the best GPS soccer trackers.
Fastest Soccer Players in the World
When it comes to pure speed, there are some professional soccer players who sit at the top of the list.
If you research this, you’ll find conflicting information but here are the European soccer players who are constantly at the top (in no particular order):
- Kylian Mbappe
- Erling Haaland
- Mohamed Salah
- Adama Traore
- Alphonso Davies
- Ousmane Dembele
The fastest soccer players run about 22 miles per hour. In comparison, for American football fans, Tyreek Hill was clocked at 23 miles per hour in a regular season game.
How to Increase Your Stamina in Soccer
Increasing your stamina during in-season and off-season training will help you travel more distance during matches.
Running is great but endurance training should also be a focus for soccer players. In addition to stamina, soccer is about acceleration, change of direction, backpedaling, and sprinting.
Interval training, strength training, and plyometric workouts are great ways to increase the distance covered per game. Some drills could include:
- Shuttle runs
- Hill and stair sprints
- Stop-and-go sprints
- Jump roping
Furthermore, it is vital to eat healthy foods and hydrate at all times. Your body needs proper nutrients to replenish itself before and after a workout.
How to Increase Your Speed in Soccer
To increase your speed in soccer, you need to focus on developing explosive power and agility. Not only do soccer players need to maximize their sprint speed but they have to do it while they are dribbling a soccer ball.
Doing speed training drills such as resistance training, distance sprints, jump squats, and hill runs can help build up your muscles and improve overall speed on the pitch.
The technique in which you sprint is also a factor. A proper technique can provide you with a competitive advantage to start out the gate faster while maintaining more explosiveness.
Is the Amount of Running in Soccer Important?
As mentioned above, I do think that the distance a player runs is a good reflection of their work rate.
At the same, it can also be deceiving. I’ve witnessed players who run five miles in a game but only get to the ball a few times. These players will casually run because they have to but they aren’t running with a purpose.
I would rather see a youth player run three impactful miles than someone who logs five casual miles. The quality of play favors the player who ran less.
I love how more youth soccer clubs and coaches are requiring players to wear GPS trackers. I think the data is beneficial but they should always factor in qualitative data as well.
I hope this breakdown was informative. To summarize, the average soccer player runs about seven miles and is broken down by position:
- Goalkeeper: 0.5-1.5 miles
- Defenders: 5-7 miles
- Midfielders: 7-8 miles
- Strikers: 4-5 miles
This is for an 11v11 field in a 90-minute game.
Tracking the distance with modern technology is also helpful to understand and can often correlate to the effectiveness of the player. More and more club teams are having their players wear devices to better analyze their performance.
As a soccer player, it is important to keep working on your stamina and speed. Soccer skills are definitely critical but when you couple it with bodywork, you accelerate your path.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to some sources, Ronaldo runs about 6 miles per game.
Soccer is up there but not the most. On average, field hockey is!
Refs typically run between 6-8 miles per 90-minutes so they run more than many players.