How Far Do Soccer Players Run in a Game? (Answered)

Soccer is one of the most physically demanding sports out there.

As a soccer player, you must be extremely fit to perform at the highest level.

That's why many people wonder, "how far do soccer players run in a game?"

Over the course of a game, players have to run a significant distance with and without the ball.

In this guide, we discuss the average distance a professional soccer player covers during a 90-minute game while considering a number of influencing factors.

Let's get straight into it:

How Many Miles Do Soccer Players Run in a Game?

Position is a key factor in determining how far soccer players run in a game.

In fact, the numbers presented in this guide should be treated as “ball-park” figures rather than exact figures, as these numbers will vary a lot depending on context.

That said, these are the estimated average distances covered by various positions:


Goalkeepers cover the lowest amount of distance.

They spend most of their time within the 18-yard box, so there is rarely any need to do a lot of running.

Most of the movements of a goalkeeper in soccer will involve taking goal-kicks, covering positions to follow the movement of the ball when facing an attack, and receiving / playing passes to and from teammates.

Goalkeepers cover about 2 miles per game.

Central Defenders

Center-backs also cover a lower amount of distance compared to other outfield players.

Even for teams that like to play out from the back, the bulk of a center-back’s time on the pitch will be spent within their own defensive third, and more often in the central areas.

There are also situations where the center-backs have to go forward to contribute to an attacking set-piece.

This adds to the total distance covered during a game.

Central Defenders cover about 5.8 miles per game.


Full-backs cover more distance than central defenders because they often have to cover the entire vertical space in front of them.

This is especially true in modern soccer where full-backs take on quite a bit of attacking responsibility in all thirds of the pitch.

Full-backs cover about 6.5 miles per game.

Central Midfielders

Central midfielders generally cover the most distance among soccer players.

They directly contribute to a larger portion of defensive and attacking zones than any other position -- so they usually do the most running in a game.

One soccer player that is most famous for his almost inexhaustible engine, N’golo Kante, is a central midfielder.

Central Midfielders cover about 7 miles per game.


Wingers play further up the pitch than full-backs, so they usually use less of the vertical space across their side of the pitch.

However, depending on the team’s tactical setup, the defensive load of a winger would also influence how much distance they cover.

Wingers cover about 6.3 miles per game.


Wingers play further up the pitch than full-backs, so they usually use less of the vertical space across their side of the pitch.

However, depending on the team’s tactical setup, the defensive load of a winger would also influence how much distance they cover.

Wingers cover about 6.3 miles per game.


Important Factors Affecting Players’ Mileage

1. Age

While there are a few exceptions, more often than not, older players (especially players over the age of 30) have less stamina than younger ones.

From the age of 30 upwards, players generally begin to see a decline in their physical abilities.

They may begin to tire more easily, or may not be able to go as fast as they could when they were younger.

So, a 19-year-old striker, for instance, would generally be more likely to cover more distance in the same game than a 36-year-old counterpart.

As suggested, there are exceptions to this rule.

An example is Liverpool's James Milner who, despite his age, is one of the fittest players in the world and regularly covers a huge distance in each game.

2. Playing Time

The amount of time a player spends on the pitch also affects how much distance they cover during a game.

Soccer games almost always include substitutions, which means that at least one player in the game will not complete 90 minutes.

In those instances, the substituted player will likely cover less distance compared to players who play the full 90 minutes.

3. Tactical Setup

The tactical setup of a team also significantly affects how much running the players do during each game.

For instance, if a team likes to press the ball a lot, then their players are likely to cover more distance than a team that likes to sit back and park the bus.

Also, the tactical setup of a soccer team might require players in specific positions to run more often than their counterparts.

4. Gender

Several studies support the fact that female soccer players generally average a shorter total distance than their male counterparts during a soccer game.

One such study - Bradley et al., 2014 - presented two important facts.

Firstly, female soccer players spend longer periods of a game at lower velocities.

Secondly, their performances decrease at a higher rate compared to males in the second half of a game.

Two other studies - Mohr et al., 2005; Krustrup et al., 2010 - further backed up the fact that female players get more fatigued earlier in the game.

According to FIFA, based on a small study, the distance between the average distance covered by women and men works out to a 14% difference.

For clarity, the distance numbers presented in this guide are drawn from men’s soccer.

5. Position

Covered above, this is perhaps the most important factor that determines how much distance a player would typically cover during a soccer game.


Final Words

If you were wondering how far soccer players run in a game, now you know!

Regardless of the position they occupy on the pitch, professional soccer players are fantastic athletes and have to keep in tip-top shape.

If you hope to go all the way to the top, working on conditioning drills is just as important as refining your skill and technique!

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