How Far Do Athletes Run in Different Sports?
Which team sport athletes log the most miles?
The beauty of running is that, to some degree, it’s an important component of almost every popular sport out there. But to what extent?
Once left to speculation, technology and data has enabled us to have a clearer understanding of how much athletes run in other sports. While you’re unlikely to beat a marathoner in the amount of ground covered during a competition, a few ball sports do feature plenty of running to go along with their other demands.
Here’s a closer look at the amount of miles that athletes in other sports cover in competition:
Soccer is a sport that requires a good amount of endurance, especially for midfielders who are constantly moving across the expansive pitch.
FIFA kept track of the amount of miles players covered during the 2014 World Cup. As one sample, during the U.S. game against Ghana, midfielder Michael Bradley logged 7.9 miles to lead all Americans. All of the U.S. midfielders ran at least 7 miles in the 90-minute game, while the starting defenders and forwards all exceeded 6 miles.
Another interesting note? Soccer referees probably run even more than the players.
The NBA keeps close track of all sorts of statistics, including how much a player runs in the course of a game.
If your favorite NBA player is determined by who runs the most, then consider yourself a big fan of the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. He leads all NBA players, running an average of 2.72 miles per game in the 2015-16 season. He led all NBA players in 2014-15 as well, and was second to Chandler Parsons in 2013-14.
NBA superstar Steph Curry of Golden State ran more than anyone during last year’s NBA Playoffs, covering the equivalent of two marathons in 21 postseason games. Instead of a race medal, though, he got a pretty nice ring.
Obviously, how much a football player runs depends largely on the position being played. The most active are wide receivers and cornerbacks, who are constantly running downfield even if they aren’t touching the ball. However, Gizmodo reported in 2013 that those position players only run about 1.25 miles per game.
A lot of factors go into how far a professional tennis player runs in a match—mainly, their playing style and how many sets a match goes. They’re also constrained on a relatively small court, which limits the amount of distance they need to cover.
For one example, let’s look at the men’s final at the 2015 U.S. Open, which Novac Djokovic won over Roger Federer in four sets (6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4). Both players ran a similar amount in the match—just more than 2 miles. Of course, in Djokovic’s three-set win in the semifinals just a few days earlier, he didn’t even log a full mile of running.
Regardless, a few tennis players have proven more than capable of running long distances. Caroline Wozniacki, one of the top women’s tennis players in the world, ran the New York City Marathon in 2014 in a time of 3:26. Retired tennis player James Blake ran the New York City Marathon last year, finishing in 3:51.
But 26.2 miles is a different ballgame for any athlete, no matter how much their sport has them moving.
“I had fun,” Blake said after finishing New York City, “but will leave this to the professionals.”