How Much Do Soccer Players Run In Training?

We all know that running is a fundamental part of the soccer game. We see the players running all the time on the field during a soccer game.

But what about the practice sessions that the teams do? Do the players run a lot during these sessions too? 

How much the soccer players run during training sessions is a question that haunted me for a long period of time until I decided to go watch the practice sessions of some of the biggest soccer teams in the world.

I watched some of the 1 hour practice sessions of teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Ajax and a few others. These practice sessions were meant to prepare for an important upcoming game that these teams had.

Here is what I found out:

Soccer players keep running almost all the time during a training session. However, the type of running that the players do during the training sessions is different for each of the drills that they do. Almost all of the drills done during the training sessions require running.

However, it is good to point out that most of the drills that the professional soccer players do during practice sessions aren’t only aimed towards improving the player’s running stamina. 

The drills aim to improve all sorts of skills needed for the players to perform well on the field. It just happens that these drills include a lot of running in them.

For example, some drills require explosive runs that last for a few seconds while other drills require slow pace running with instant changes in the running directions to improve the agility of the players.

During the practice sessions, I have noticed that almost all of the teams that I watched included the “Circle practice” in their sessions for more than 20 minutes out of the full 1 hour session.

The players make a full circle, and they pick 2 or 3 players to stand in the middle of the circle. The middle players will have to try and get the ball from the players standing on the circle as they pass the ball to each other.

This exercise requires the player standing in the circle to run a lot in different directions and to make instant changes to their acceleration to trick their teammates and grab the ball from them before they can react.

The players also play a soccer game against each other on a single side of the field. They bring one of the goal posts to the center of the field, and then they play a game for around 20 minutes.

As you can tell, this game included a lot of running. The kind of running that you see during a regular soccer game.

The 1 hour training sessions also include some stretching and running exercises. For example, the players do instant runs after a slow paced run with some hand movements.

In other words, they jog while stretching different parts of their bodies, and then they sprint for a short distance.

One thing that you can notice here is that even though the training sessions of the professional soccer players include A LOT of running, you’ll rarely find the players running at a constant speed for a long period of time.

The players do not jog a lot. They only jog for a few minutes at the beginning of the practice sessions just as a warm up exercise and that’s it.

Note that I have only examined the training sessions that take place on the soccer field. The players also have practice sessions inside the GYM and these may include some minutes of running on the machines.

But in general, the kind of running that the soccer players do during practice sessions is short and intensive runs instead of steady and long runs.

It’s true that practice sessions are extremely important for the players to develop their skills and become better at soccer. However, do you know what is much more important for the players than the practice sessions? Well, the soccer games themselves.

Playing a full 90 minutes soccer game can be considered one of the best practice sessions. The players will be gaining huge experience and they’ll also be practicing their endurance and other required skills.

This is why some clubs send their youngsters on loan. These players will get the chance to play more and increase their skills much faster.

Since we’re categorizing soccer games as intensive practice sessions, it also makes sense to check how much the players run during a soccer game before I end the article.

How much do soccer players run during a game?

The following study was analyzing the difference in the performance of soccer players that come from different soccer confederations.

They measured the distance that the players from different confederations ran during the 2018 world cup.

According to the study, the players that came from the UEFA confederation ran around 107 meters per minute.

Doing the math, the average distance covered by players that come from European teams is 107 meters per minute which is 9630 meters or 9.63 kilometers per 90 minutes (5.98 miles per 90 minutes).

That’s A LARGE DISTANCE. Usually, soccer players play at least 1 game per week during the whole duration of the league season.

Players from other federations ran less distances on average, but these distances were still large compared to the distances ran in other sports.

So, if I were to sum up the whole article in a single sentence, I would say that professional soccer players run for long distances at different paces during many days of the week during practice sessions and during actual games.

With that said, I will end the article here. You can check the following related article that states whether or not you should run everyday as a soccer player.