Distributing the total distance covered by football players in speed zones is an indispensable tool for sports scientists and fitness coaches in modern football. It contributes effectively to understanding the requirements of the sport, and more specifically to each position, giving us the benefit of designing workouts that are tailored to the needs of each player. At the same time, it gives us a clear picture of the physical abilities of each player, while long-term recording and comparing the performance of each player in a series of matches can lead us to very useful conclusions.
The speed zones in which the distance covered is distributed on the basis of the literature are:
0-0.6 km/h (Standing)
0.7-7.1 km/h (Walking)
7.2-14.3 km/h (Jogging)
14.4-19.7 km/h (Running)
19.8-25.1 km/h (High-speed Run)
>25.1 km/h (Sprinting)
Based on long-term records of other scientists in football matches, in terms of the physical demands of each position, in the above speed zones, we quote the following interesting values in a table:
* The above values do not include goalkeepers’ measurements.
As you can see in the table above, regardless of playing position, most of the total distance in a football match will be covered by slow running, while a large proportion will be covered by walking. As absurd as it sounds, that's what the numbers say. The reason many will wonder if this is true or not is very simple. Watching a football match, all of us are often focused on the part of the players involved in the phase, or those close to the ball. What we do not realize is that, at the same moment, there are other players on the pitch who are likely to be moving at very slow speeds. Of course, this does not negate the fact that footballers must be very well trained and prepared to perform the most energy costly for the body actions, as they will most often make the difference in a match.
The speed zone 14.4-19.7 km/h (Running) is highly correlated with the player’s displacement on the pitch. Looking at the table, you can see that the wide midfielders have the highest percentage in this zone, followed by the central midfielders. It is these players who will be most likely to work in defense, especially in game changing, as they will have to cover long distances in a short space of time.
Regarding speed zones >19.8 km/h (High-speed Run and Sprinting), as you can see, the wide midfielders have the highest percentage, followed by the attackers. In football terms, this can be justified by frequent transitions, mainly from defense to attack. In cases where the wide defenders are playing in systems with a three at the back and have the entire line in their area of responsibility, then clearly the percentage in these zones is increasing. As for central defenders, their performance in the specific zones depends heavily on the opponents' actions, as they mostly run at high speeds defensively to intercept them.
Reading the above data and before reaching any conclusion, we should keep in mind that depending on the level of the league, the percentages are likely to vary. In addition, the factors that may influence the above percentages are both the formation of the two teams in the field and the specific instructions of each coach.
Finally, the above information can be used as a basic knowledge of understanding the physical demands of each position in a football match. What we suggest, if possible, is that physical demands of the match for each player be recorded and used individually.