How Far Does an NFL Player Run During a Game?

How Far Does an NFL Player Run During a Game?

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National Football League players are among the most fit and trained athletes in the world. For good reason: they are expected to sprint over and over again during games ~ or at least run during plays.

Not quite. Apparently, most NFL players stand around a lot during what are officially 60-minute contests.

It has been estimated that the average NFL wide receiver or cornerback runs about 1.25 miles per game. Those are the two positions demanding the most running in American football, so 1.25 miles can be considered a maximum. Players in other positions run less.

Little over a mile may not seem like much, but consider how all that land was covered. We would say it’s a very hard mile earned.

Because this is not territory claimed with a light jog. Pro football players bounce between full sprints and grueling push-and-shove scrimmages all game, peppered with violent collisions periodically.

Physically, it’s difficult for the average person to fully comprehend what that 1.25 miles running in football games can do to a body. All the sprinting, pushing, falling down on hard turf, and instant starting and stopping burns a lot of calories and commands complete exertion.

Even though they estimate that actual action in a pro football game amounts to only about 11 minutes per 60-minute game, starting players will say they don’t get enough breaks to rest.

The NFL game is that intense.

Time Spent Running in Other Major Sports

We’ve established that NFL players can run up to 1.25 miles per game. How does that align with baseball and other sports?

Baseball players run the least during games comparatively, at just 0.0375 miles per game.

In the National Basketball Association, players run about 2.55 miles per game, according to advanced technical studies on the matter. Busy point guards can run almost 2.75 miles per match.

That’s still not as much as in tennis, where players run an estimated 3 miles per match. Hours of little back-and-forth bursts add up.

Next up is field hockey, believe it or not, with an average 5.6 miles per contest. One source says all field hockey players on the field for a full 70 minutes of play can accumulate almost 10 kilometers of running.

But that still doesn’t approach the total running distance per game of an average soccer player, who must endure 90 minutes (or more with extra play at the end), a large field, and few substitutions. Don’t like running much? Don’t play soccer.

NFL Positions Which Require the Most Running

As stated, wide receivers and cornerbacks run the most of any other position on a football field. How about the other positions? Here’s how we would rank them, from the most distance to hardly at all.


Running all game is pretty much what these players do, helping the cornerbacks on pass plays, running forward fast on runs, and generally being the last line of defense.


These defenders behind the linemen do a lot of lateral running in games, chasing ball carriers.

Tight End

A lineman who also runs pass routes.

Running Back

Duh, it’s in the position’s name.

Special Teams

Many of those guys on kickoffs and field goal attempts are on the field longer than you might imagine. Some special teams players are involved in all those plays that involve a kick of the ball.

Kick Returner

There are few kickoff returns in the NFL today. Most kicks go through the end zone for touchbacks. Still, return guys must run to and from their position, and sometimes to block or chase the ball.

Punt Returner

It’s almost all fair catches these days in the NFL.


Some more than others, but most NFL quarterbacks run rarely for more than a few yards at a time. Pro quarterbacks are unlike the college version, where they may scramble or execute run plays much more often.


Yes, they do have to run a little, like after kicking off a ball to assist with bringing down the kick returner, or if a field goal or point after touchdown (PAT) is blocked.


Same as kickers just not as much.

When Baseball Players Run

Baseball is a quirky game in terms of the amount of running involved. You would think with the wide open, spread-out acreage of the fields, especially in the outfield, that baseball players ran more.

A mile consists of 5,280 feet. In baseball, the bases are only 90 feet apart. So even if the most adept hitter smacked five home runs in a game, it would amount to only 1,800 feet of running. And a lot of guys get no hits in a game and their offensive sprints are limited to runs to first base, for maybe 300 or so feet total.

Take Mike Trout in the 2015 regular season, when they tracked his running during games. Among all his total bases, meaning singles, doubles, triples, and home runs, plus stolen bases, he accumulated over the entire season almost six miles.

So, an average pro soccer player can run more in a single game than a Major League Baseball starter might for an entire season!

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