Height can make or break you in many sports regardless of your other attributes. If you’re extremely tall or short, it is only logical to wonder whether playing soccer is the right fit.
This article answers the question “are soccer players tall?” by revealing the standard height attributes of professional soccer players around the world and what playing positions may be suitable depending on a player’s height.
Are Soccer Players Tall?
Soccer positions like goalkeeping, center back, and center forward may require tall players to give teams an edge over opponents. Short and average height players may thrive in central and attacking midfield positions as well as the left and right wingback areas.
Height may give an advantage to certain positions but being tall is not a requirement to become a professional soccer player because there are tons of other positions available where even short players can be effective.
The average height of professional soccer players ranges from 5’9″ to 5’11” but there are tons of players who may be considerably taller or shorter. Other skills like dribbling, pace, shooting, and positioning can make one a better player in certain areas of the field regardless of their height.
Studies have shown that playing soccer increases a player’s height by an inch or two. This is a welcome relief for some of the shortest youth players in the world with dreams of turning pro.
Advantages of Tall Soccer Players
Being tall can offer several advantages on the soccer field. Even though height may not be as important as basketball where the average NBA player height is 6’5.4″, height may still give you the edge over opponents in many aspects of the game of soccer. A few of the positives are discussed below.
Are you taller than all the members of the opposing team? Your height may be a dominating asset during aerial challenges. Set-pieces could be one of your biggest strengths because of the ability to outjump everyone for goalscoring opportunities.
Sure, your heading technique and other factors may come into play in determining how often you can score even when teammates whip in the perfect targeted crosses.
Your height may also be an advantage when defending setpieces because you can head potentially dangerous crosses away from your goal area. A perfect example is Didier Drogba back in his Chelsea hay days.
Tall players are usually stronger which could be critical in many areas of the soccer field. From fending off defenders during quick attacking bursts to bullying offensive players legally for the ball, strength may be a real advantage during the game.
Soccer players need natural strength in almost every area of the field but wingers don’t need to be too bulky because it can affect their pace and slow down their ability to attack from either flank.
Your teammates may mean well but not all their crosses will be pinpointed at your feet and height could come in handy to latch on wayward passes since tall players have longer legs.
Defenders with longer legs typically thrive due to efficient tackling. When the odds seem stuck against them, tall players are able to rely on the longer legs to get the ball out of play or steal it away from the opposition.
Longer and Wider Reach
Aspiring to be a goalkeeper? Height could be one of the most critical attributes because it offers longer reach which helps in stretching to keep out balls from their nets.
Some of the best goalkeepers in the world like Manuel Neuer (6′ 4″), Thibaut Courtois (6′ 7″), and David De Gea (6′ 4″) are tall and use their biological attributes to their advantage.
Larger Hands & Limbs
Goalkeepers thrive on the ability to catch as many balls as possible and being tall typically results in larger hands and limbs. This allows them to defend balls from their goals effectively.
The larger limbs may also come in handy for goalkeepers like Thibaut Courtois that prefer blocking shots with their legs to defend goals. Defensive midfielders and defenders could also benefit from larger limbs because it provides better shot blockages.
Advantages of Short Soccer Players
Being short has its perks as a soccer player which explains why Marco Verratti (5’5″), Ngolo Kante (5′ 6″), and Lionel Messi (5’7″) are regarded as some of the best players in the world.
The advantages of being a short soccer player are discussed below to offer hope for aspiring players who may not be endowed with height.
Acceleration and Pace
Shorter players typically have the quickest acceleration and pace. This is used to their advantage on the pitch to help outwit opponents in different areas of the field.
Kylian Mbappe, Adama Traore, and Vinicius Jr. are not exactly tall players but they score some of the highest marks in acceleration and speed in global soccer. (Source)
Center of Gravity
Noticed how players like Lionel Messi (5.6″), Diego Maradona (5’5″), and Eden Hazard (5’9″) create chances and goals out of nowhere with their amazing dribbling abilities? A vital part of that is attributed to their short height which offers a low center of gravity.
Even with a ball at their feet and sprinting at top speeds, these players are able to make the quickest turns and display multiple tricks without getting slowed down. While a few tall players like Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud may have good footwork, height generally restricts dribbling abilities on the soccer field.
Video clips of Diego Maradona picking a ball in his own half and dribbling almost every member of the opponent’s team to score at the other half underscores how shorter players are naturally born with nimble talents the majority of tall players could never have.
Similar videos of Eden Hazard and Lionel Messi are in abundance on the Web. If you’re not endowed with height, perhaps you’re blessed with the agility to take on multiple players which can help in your development as a top attacking midfielder, winger, or striker.
What Is The Perfect Height For a Goalkeeper?
The ideal height for goalkeepers is at least 6’2” according to data from the top leagues in Europe. Goalkeepers stand between the ball and the goal meaning nothing less than a powerful presence is required.
Tall goalkeepers come with an imposing presence on the opponent’s players and should have additional attributes like agility and excellent anticipation. With a striker or winger breathing down a goal after a quick counterattack that caught the defenders off guard, a formidable and skillful goalkeeper could be the last line of defense to keep the ball out of his or her net.
The best goalkeepers in the world are 6’2″ or taller and the table below makes that clear.
|1. Manuel Neuer||6’4″|
|2. David De Gea||6’4″|
|3. Thibaut Courtois||6’7″|
|4. Benjamin Mendy||6’4″|
|5. Marc Andre Ter Stegen||6’2″|
|6. Gianluigi Donnarumma||6’5″|
|8. Jan Oblak||6’2″|
|9. Alisson Becker||6’3″|
|10. Samir Handanovic||6’4|
Height may not be much of an issue in kids’ soccer since the nets are smaller and shorter. However, some of the most promising youth goalkeepers are unable to turn professional because they do not experience the necessary growth spurts required to play the game at the highest levels.
While skill is critical to a goalkeeper’s chances of success, the ability to jump and stretch the hands are equally important parts of the game. Being short could put goalkeepers at the risk of conceding too many goals they would otherwise save if a few inches taller.
What Is The Ideal Height For Defenders?
The average center back is 6’0″ tall which is no surprise because the ability to deal with aerial challenges is a crucial part of defending in soccer. Lacking the requisite height can be a huge disadvantage during setpieces, especially from taller players on the opponent’s team.
Fullbacks and wingbacks may be able to get away with being short because their game splits between attack and defense. Other attributes like pace, excellent dribbling, and the ability to make incisive crosses and passes could come into play.
This can create opportunities for shorter players and names like Roberto Carlos (5’6″) and Philip Lahm (5,7″) are perfect examples of some of the best wingbacks in soccer for club and country.
Sure, being a tall wingback is always ideal but height is no longer a barrier to entry particularly if your attacking abilities are exceptional.
|1. Virgil Van Dijk||6’4″|
|2. Thiago Silva||6’0″|
|3. Ruben Dias||6’1″|
|4. Raphael Varane||6’3″|
|6. Trent Alexander-Arnold||5’9″|
|7. Antonio Rudiger||6’3″|
|8. Achraf Hakimi||5’11”|
|9. Alphonso Davies||6’0″|
|10. Reece James||5’10”|
What Is The Ideal Height For Midfielders?
Midfield probably offers the most suitable positions for short players and names like Thiago Alcantara, Marco Verratti, and Ngolo Kante are solid references.
Intelligence, skill, work ethic, and speed are more critical to the chances of success in midfield than height. If a tall player happens to have all of those attributes then that could be an advantage.
But no scouts or coaches will undermine the raw attributes of a midfielder just because he or she may not be exactly tall.
|1. Kevin de Bruyne||5’11”|
|2. Thiago Alcantara||5’9″|
|3. Toni kroos||6’0″|
|4. Ngolo Kante||5’6″|
|5. Marco Verratti||5’5″|
|7. Luka Modric||5’8″|
|8. Mason Mount||5’11|
|9. Bruno Fernandes||5’10”|
|10. Paul Pogba||6’3″|
What Is The Perfect Height For Strikers?
The average height of strikers in soccer is 5’11 and like midfielders, height may not be the most important attribute. Some teams play with a target man striker in which case short players are likely to be disadvantaged in aerial duels. Examples of such strikers are Mario Mandzukic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
However, other teams prefer playing with speedy strikers who may be diminutive but possess other critical advantages like speed, dribbling, and shooting accuracy. Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann are perfect examples of those forwards.
|1. Cristiano Ronaldo||6’2″|
|2. Lionel Messi||5’7″|
|3. Robert Lewandowski||6’1″|
|4. Kylian Mbappe||5’10”|
|5. Neymar Jr||5’9″|
|6. Mohammed Salah||5’9″|
|7. Harry Kane||6’2″|
|8. Karim Benzema||6’1″|
|9. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||6’2″|
|10. Diogo Jota||5’10”|
Conclusion: Are Soccer Players Tall?
Soccer players may be tall or short depending on their playing positions. Goalkeepers, central defenders, and target strikers are usually the tallest players on each team.
Short players can thrive in midfield positions as well as attacking fullback/ wingback positions. Some forwards may also be diminutive with greater emphasis on utilizing their speed, agility, and dribbling skills to beat opponents to the ball.