What Soccer Position Runs The Least? (Top 3 & Statistics)

Soccer consists mainly of running. Therefore, good fitness is very important for a soccer player. Of course, not every position needs to run the same amount. So, what soccer position runs the least?

The goalkeeper is the soccer position that runs the least during a game. During an entire game, goalkeepers cover an average distance of 5,611 meters. Of these 5,611 meters, they walk 4,025 meters, jog 1,223 meters, run 211 meters, run 56 meters at high speed, and sprint 11 meters.

That a goalkeeper runs the least distance should be no surprise. But why is this the case, and what other soccer positions run the least? You find out in this article!

Which Position in Soccer Runs The Least?

There's no denying that soccer is a sport that requires a lot of running. With a professional 11-a-side field being up to 120m (130 yards) long, there's a lot of ground to be covered in every game.

That said, not every position requires the same amount of running. In fact, the amount of distance covered in a game varies between each position.

If you've ever wondered what soccer position runs the least, you're about to find out! 

I will now list the top 3 positions in soccer that require the least amount of running.

1. Goalkeeper

It should be no surprise that goalkeepers have the least amount of running to do in a game of soccer.

This is, of course, due to goalkeepers being tasked with staying in one position during an entire game.

If the goalkeeper's team is attacking, then the keeper has nothing to do except stand by and watch. This means that goalkeepers definitely run less than any other position.

Because of this, it means that players who play as goalkeepers can have much longer careers than any other position.

In most outfield positions, players often decide to retire as they approach their mid-thirties. This is usually because they can no longer keep up with the pace of the game.

However, with goalkeepers not needing to run as much, they can often play to a much older age.

Gianluigi Buffon is possibly the greatest example of this. In 2021, Buffon was still playing at the highest level for Juventus at the age of 43.

In fact, Buffon broke the record for the oldest ever player to save a penalty in a Serie A game.

It's needless to say, but if you want to take up soccer at an older age and wish to avoid too much running, then goalkeeping is your best option.

So, how much does a goalkeeper run?

Now you know that a goalkeeper runs less than any other player on the field, but how much does a goalkeeper run during a soccer game?

According to a study that monitored 62 elite-level goalkeepers over 109 matches, goalkeepers ran for an average of 221 meters (241 yards) during a 90-minute game.

Goalkeepers covered 56 meters (61 yards) while running at high speed and sprinted for only 11 meters (12 yards).

During an entire game, goalkeepers covered an average total distance of 5,611 meters (6,136 yards). However, 73% of that distance was covered while walking.

This is because goalkeepers tend to keep walking around their penalty area when their team has the ball.

This is partly to stay warmed up, but also so they can follow the events of the game and ensure that they're in the correct position for when the ball comes their way.

Below is a breakdown of a goalkeeper's average movements during a game of soccer:

Total distance covered:5,611 m (6,136 yards)
Distance covered while walking:4,025 m (4,401 yards)
Distance covered while jogging:1,223 m (1,337 yards)
Distance covered while running:211 m (230 yards)
Distance covered while running at high speed:56 m (61 yards)
Distance covered while sprinting:11 m (12 yards)

The only time a goalkeeper is required to run at a high intensity is when they sprint out to steal the ball from an onrushing attacker. Or when they run out to catch an incoming corner or cross.

On rare occasions, a goalkeeper may be asked to run the length of the pitch to help his team with a last-minute attacking play. This does not happen often, though.

2. Center back

The center back position is the outfield position that requires the least amount of running. It is the position that runs the second-least amount in total.

Although playing in central defense requires the least amount of running compared to other outfield players, you still need to be incredibly fit to keep up with the pace of the game.

So, why are center backs running less than other positions?

Center backs are tasked with strictly sticking to their defensive position just in front of the goalkeeper. They usually only run up the field to help attack on corner kicks and other set-pieces.

Because of this, a center back will only usually run at high speed when chasing an attacker or sprinting to intercept or block the ball.

Throughout the rest of the game, the center backs are focused on keeping their shape with the other defensive players. This can usually be done while walking or jogging.

So, how much does a center back run?

A 2021 study covering 31 top leagues across Europe and America determined that center backs cover 9,222 meters (10,085 yards) per game on average.

Of those 9,222 meters (10,085 yards), 485m (530 yards) were running at high intensity, while 96 meters (104 yards) were covered while sprinting.

When comparing this to other positions, wingers, for example, cover 932 meters (1,019 yards) per game while running at a high intensity. This is nearly double that of a center back.

Another way of proving that center backs run less than any other outfield player is to look at some Premier League statistics.

In most circumstances, soccer leagues avoid revealing which players run the least as they tend to prefer sharing more positive stats and data.

However, in 2018, it was revealed which Premier League players covered the least amount of distance. 9 out of the top 10 were all center backs.

Below are the top 10 players who ran the least in the 2018/19 Premier League season:

PlayerAverage distance per gamePosition
1. Issa Diop8,740m (9,558 yards)Center back
2. Wes Morgan8,770m (9,590 yards)Center back
3. Virgil van Dijk8,840m (9,667 yards)Center back
4. Jannik Vestergaard8,870m (9,700 yards)Center back
5. Sol Bamba8,880m (9,711 yards)Center back
6. Sean Morrison8,920m (9,755 yards)Center back
7. Terence Kongolo8,930m (9,765 yards)Center back/fullback
8. Bruno Ecuele Manga8,940m (9,776 yards)Center back
9. Willy Boly8,970m (9,809 yards)Center back
10. Anthony Martial9,020m (9,864 yards)Striker/forward

Note: Goalkeepers were excluded from this list. Each player needed to play at least 540 total minutes to qualify for this list.

As you can see, this list is dominated by center backs, with all of them falling just under the average distance covered (9,222m) (10,085 yards) for their position.

3. Fullback

Fullback is the soccer position that runs the third-least amount in total. Fullbacks come in second behind center backs for the outfield position that requires the least amount of running in a soccer game.

It's very important for this article to distinguish fullbacks from wingbacks. 

Fullbacks and wingbacks are very similar. However, fullbacks play a more defensive role than wingbacks do. 

They are also expected to stay in position and are not free to get forward as much as wingbacks are.

Because of this, fullbacks are the third-least running position in soccer.

Fullbacks have very similar tasks to center backs; this means that much of what we have discussed with center backs also applies to fullbacks.

Just like center backs, they are expected to hold their defensive line and stay in position for most of the game.

They differ from defenders, though, because they do have some attacking freedom depending on the team's style of play.

In some formations, the fullbacks are expected to hold their position while defending but then are allowed to get forward to support the team when attacking.

Because of this, fullbacks end up running more than center backs do.

So, how much does a fullback run?

Based on the same study used for the center backs, we can determine that fullbacks cover 9,888 meters (10,813 yards) per soccer game on average.

Of those 9,888 meters (10,813 yards), 814m (890 yards) were run at high intensity, while 191 meters (208 yards) were covered while sprinting.

In comparison with center backs, fullbacks cover an extra 666 meters (728 yards) on average per game.

They also run at a higher intensity for 329 meters (359 yards) more than center backs and sprint 95 meters (103 yards) more. This is nearly double the amount of distance covered sprinting.

The reason that fullbacks sprint more than center backs is due to their position.

A fullback's position on the field means they are usually responsible for stopping wingers. Wingers sprint more than any other position, meaning fullbacks often need to try and match them.

Conclusion

The goalkeeper is undoubtedly at the top when looking at the positions in soccer that require the least amount of running.

If you're looking to play soccer and avoid running too much, then being a goalkeeper is the best way of doing so.

If you wanted to be an outfield player, the position requiring the least running would be the center back, followed closely by the fullbacks.

(You can find the studies I used for this article here and here)

James Miller

Soccer has been my passion since I was a kid. After my own career, I became a coach, something I have been doing for 15 years now. Sharing my knowledge about soccer is what I love most. So I hope you can appreciate my articles.
Published: 
July 28, 2022
Published: July 28, 2022