How Much Does A Soccer Player Run In A Game? 6 Sports Compared

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Athletes of different sports often like to verbally compete and compare how difficult their sport is in comparison to others. For example, rugby players might compare themselves to American football players and say that rugby is a tougher sport. Tennis players might attest that their sport requires more skill and athleticism than baseball. 

But, when it comes to running in a game, which sports involve the most running? How much do basketball players run in a game? How much does a soccer player run in a game? 

Although it’s certainly not possible to cover the average distance run by players in each position in every sport, in this guide, we will take a look at how far the average player runs in sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer. 

Before we get started, what’s your guess? Which sport requires the most running (aside from marathon racing and long-distance triathlons!)?

We will cover: 

  • How Far Do Athletes Run In Each Sport?
  • How Far Does a Baseball Player Run Per Game?
  • How Far Does a Football Player Run Per Game?
  • How Far Does a Basketball Player Run Per Game?
  • How Far Does a Tennis Player Run Per Game?
  • How Far Does a Field Hockey Player Run Per Game?
  • How Much Does A Soccer Player Run In A Game?

Let’s jump in!

Two soccer players running.

How Far Do Athletes Run In Each Sport?

Before we try to describe different values or distances run per game for various sports, it’s important to remember that all of these figures are merely estimates. Specific distances can actually vary significantly in real-life situations based on the position, level of play, and specific competition or game itself. 

For example, when considering soccer, the distance run per soccer game will largely depend upon the position of the player. Goalies will not run as far as defenders. Midfielders and forwards tend to run the most, but it can depend on how the actual game shakes out.

No two soccer matches are the same, for instance. The same defender might run a lot further in one game than in another based on the relative strengths of the opposing team.

For example, if the team is playing against another team with a very strong offense, much of the game might be spent on that defender’s side of the field, wherein he or she will have to do a lot of running and game action in order to help protect the goal. 

When playing another team that might not be particularly strong, the reverse scenario might occur, such that most of the game will be played towards the other goal. 

A soccer playing kicking a ball.

With this type of match-up, the forwards and midfielders on our example defender’s team would be doing most of the running and striking toward the opposite goal. 

Our example defender would therefore have more limited involvement in the play-by-play action of the game and would not run.

Lastly, the level of play can affect the distance run per sport in a game. For example, novices or beginners typically have slower-paced games, and athletes will typically not run as far per game because they will not be moving up and down the court or field as many times over the duration of the game.

The most accurate way to determine the distance run per game in various sports is to have each athlete wear a GPS watch for outdoor sports and a fitness watch with an accelerometer that can approximate the distance run for indoor sports. 

Most of the estimates for the distances run in a game per sport are based on this type of data from a small subset of athletes, but the larger the sample size, including athletes of each sport in different positions and in different games, and of different genders, will help improve the accuracy of these estimations.

Related: The Greatest Football Quotes Of All-Time

A baseball hitter, catcher and umpire.

How Far Does a Baseball Player Run Per Game?

In general, baseball is one of the sports that requires the least amount of running. Most experts estimate that the average baseball player runs about 0.0375 miles per game, which is just under 200 feet.

This seems a little low, given the fact that each base is 90 feet apart. A home run would equate to 360 feet of running. 

Of course, not every player will score a run in a game, but it seems that closer to 400 feet makes more sense.

Certain positions, such as centerfield and any outfield position, will require more running than a pitcher, catcher, or baseman, but even so, none of the positions in baseball require all that much running.

A football game.

How Far Does a Football Player Run Per Game? 

Football receivers and cornerbacks, which are the players that typically do the most running in a football game, might run about 1.25 miles per game.

A football field is very large—100 yards (91.44 m) long between the goal lines and 160 feet (48.8 or 53.3 yards) wide. This is a fair amount of surface area, potentially requiring football players to run quite far over the duration of the game.

However, the reason that most football players don’t run a lot more per game is that the actual play time during the average football game is quite short.

In fact, The actual amount of playing time for the average NFL game is only about 11 minutes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Therefore, even accruing 1.25 miles of total distance run over this play time is pretty impressive.

A basketball game.

How Far Does a Basketball Player Run Per Game? 

There’s been a fair amount of analysis into how far basketball players run per game.

Using data from the 2016 NBA season, the average distance run per basketball game has been estimated to be about 2.25 to 2.75 miles.

Keep in mind that this is the NBA level of play, and the data is taken from men. Collegiate, recreational, and women may run less per game depending on the pace of the basketball game and the level and position of the players.

How Far Does a Tennis Player Run Per Game? 

Tennis is one of the most difficult sports to describe an average distance run per game. Although it would be fairly easy to track the distance run per game for each individual tennis player with GPS watches, providing an overall average for all tennis players is somewhat an exercise in futility.

Tennis matches are highly variable depending on the skill level of the players, the strategy employed, and whether it is a singles or doubles match. 

A tennis player swining.

Obviously, a tennis player will run further in a singles tennis match than one playing doubles because, in doubles, players only have to cover half as much of the court.

More importantly, the level of the players and the play style or strategy will greatly impact how far each tennis player runs per game. 

If the players are equally matched in skill level and have long volleys back-and-forth on both sides of the court before a point is finally scored, the tennis match will be significantly longer, and the players will have to run much further during the tennis game to chase the ball around the court. 

On the other hand, if there are lots of tennis serves that are aces or points are scored very quickly, the game will be shorter, and there will be much less running around the court.

Most estimates put the average distance run per tennis game to be around the 3-mile or 5K mark for competitive tennis players.

Field hockey players.

How Far Does a Field Hockey Player Run Per Game? 

Field hockey games are 70 minutes long and generally involve a lot of running up and down the field.

Some studies suggest competitive female field hockey players may cover close to 5500 meters (about 3.5 miles) per game, of which about 20% is high-intensity running. 

Defenders tend to cover the most running distance in a field hockey game.

How Much Does A Soccer Player Run In A Game?

As discussed earlier, the distance from a soccer game can vary depending on numerous factors, including the position, level of play, and specific game itself. However, soccer players tend to run the most per game compared to athletes of other sports, with midfielders running the most.

The average distance run per soccer game for all the positions, except for the goalie, is estimated to be around 11 kilometers (close to 7 miles), whereas midfielders might run as much as 9.5 miles. 

A soccer game is 90 minutes long, and even though there are breaks in play and substitutions, it is truly a sport that requires endurance and speed.

So, in this list of sports, soccer players take the cake. What sport do you think requires the most running?

If you want to track your distance run in the sport you participate in, look into purchasing a GPS watch, and check out our guide here.

A person looking at their GPS watch.
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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