Why are Soccer Players Skinny? (+ Skinniest Players BMI)

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Soccer involves a number of twists and turns in the game, which demands the players to be flexible. This flexibility often requires players to be skinny, so they get to excel in the game.

Soccer players are professional athletes. Soccer players have minimal fat, so their Body Mass Index is low. A soccer player can play three games weekly during the peak season. 

Training is for most players over seven days so they won’t get a day off for most of the season. However, some of these days will be spent doing recovery and recuperation work to rest and repair their body. 

The majority of players are what we class as skinny, but that is far from diminishing their strength and attributes.

Although they look like they could benefit from a large meal, they’re certainly stronger than most. 

KYIV UKRAINE NOVEMBER 2 2021 Sergio Busquets captain 5. The football match of UEFA Champions League FC Dynamo Kyiv vs FC Barcelona. ○ Soccer Blade

Skinny Soccer Players

Here is a selection of the reported skinniest soccer players in the game. This chart shows who is the skinniest based on a BMI calculation from height and weight.

1.Sergio Busquets189cm | 6’2″76 kg20.4
2.Mohammed Al-Burayk173cm | 5’7″61 kg20.4
3.Jürgen Damm185cm | 6’1″70 kg20.5
4.Lacina Traoré203 cm | 6’6″87 kg21.1
5.Ángel di María180cm | 5’11”69 kg21.3
6.Neymar175cm | 5’9″68 kg22.2
7.Thomas Müller185cm | 6’1″76 kg22.2
8.Luka Modric172cm | 5’8″66 kg22.3
9.Javier Pastore173cm | 5’8″70 kg23.4
10.Antoine Griezmann176cm | 5’9″73 kg23.6
Skinniest Soccer Players – Height, Weight, and BMI

This is just a selection of top pros players known to be skinny. I’m sure you can find one who is even skinnier.

Soccer players run over 7 miles per game. So think of professional athletes that run in the Olympics. The skinnier runners are the ones who run further.

7 miles is 10,000 meters, and the top three in the Olympics were Selemon Barega, Joshua Cheptegei, and Jacob Kiplimo. Let’s do a comparison with these athletes that run a similar distance.

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Selemon BaregaJoshua CheptegeiJacob Kiplimo
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m)5 ft 6 in (1.67 m) 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
53 kg (117 lb)

52 kg (115 lb)
62 kg (136 lb)
Olympic 10,000 Winners 2020 – Height and Weight

Now, if we look at the winner of the 100-meter Olympics, Marcell Jacobs is 6 ft 1 in (1.8 m) and weighs 84 kg, giving him a BMI of 24.5.

100-meter runners are not skinny but muscly; they need power for a short period. That’s why soccer players are skinny.

Body Mass Index

The body mass calculation tells us the amount of fat a person has. Here is the image below; it shows us that a healthy person has between 18.5-25.

File:BMI chart.svg
BMI Chart

Anything less than 18.5 is unhealthy as our bodies need fat because it’s our fuel. Low levels of BMI can lead to injuries, poor recovery, and feeling faint.

Let’s look at one top player to see if they fall into the category of skinny or healthy.

BMI: 22.2 (Normal Body Weight), Height: 5’9″ (1.75 m), Weight: (68 kg)

Neymar BMI Calculation

Neymar is on the lower end of the BMI scale but not too close to the unhealthy side.

22.06.2018. Saint Petersburg, Russian NEYMAR in action during the Fifa World Cup Russia 2018, Group E, football game between BRAZIL V COSTARICA in Saint Petersburg Stadium.
22.06.2018. Saint Petersburg, Russian NEYMAR in action during the Fifa World Cup Russia 2018, Group E, football game between BRAZIL V COSTARICA in Saint Petersburg Stadium.

Why Soccer Players Are Skinny

Soccer players are skinny to be able to run 7 miles in 90 minutes while kicking, jumping, and tackling at different moments.

Comparing the three Olympic athletes and Neymar gives us a clear reason soccer players are skinny. The BMI for an athlete that runs 7 miles needs to be around 18-21 for them to perform to the highest level. And for more powerful short bursts, an athlete can have a BMI of 25.

The further you run and the more cardiovascular work needed to be done will mean that you will perform when you’re skinnier.

Why soccer players are not muscular?

Soccer players aren’t muscular with large biceps, which limits their strength in other game areas. Their strength lies in their core muscles.

Some sports require the athlete to have substantial body weight/mass/fat to perform. Consider a boxer. A boxer can vary in weight, but this is used technically for heavyweights.

A heavyweight has no limits on its weight, so it can adjust it to prepare for a fight.

The weight will give them that extra punching power but also slow them down. So it’s a trade-off between the two – power or speed. A shot-putter is generally heavy/fat for a reason – they need that force.

I’m sure there are slim professional shot putters, but for the most part, they carry the weight to put their force behind the shot. 

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Another example would be a sumo wrestler – I’ve never seen a skinny one, have you?

When grappling a 300-pound sumo fighter, you need that weight that grounds you and stabilizes you to enforce your power.

France World Cup Team Photo Before a Game
France World Cup Team Photo Before a Game

Do soccer players need to be skinny?

To be a top professional soccer player, you need to be able to run miles at a consistent speed. Not only long distances but also stopping, starting, turning, kicking, tackling, heading, and sliding.

If you play the game, it’s easy enough to run, but when you stop and start, it takes the energy out of you.

If you are a tall player carrying a few extra pounds, it won’t be long before you need to have a break. 

The Game

Soccer is an intensive game and requires many attributes from players. If the players are not in top condition, their performance will start to show on the field.

You might have noticed it yourself when you’ve been playing or watching a game; after 80 minutes, players make more mistakes because there are more goals.

The desire and intensity build up, and everything is on the line with the final few minutes remaining.

If you counterattack a team and they counterattack you, you can be out of breath soon enough.

Central Core

One of the biggest factors for soccer players to be strong is to strengthen the core of their muscles. This is not easy to build; it takes many years of training and playing.

The core muscles allow players to have strength but without weight. That is why many soccer players use yoga to strengthen their core muscles.

Core muscles run down the center of a person. So it the small muscles along the center of the back and the chest.

This allows them to twist and turn effectively without losing their breath.

Juventus Players Celebrating After a Goal
Juventus Players Celebrating After a Goal

How do soccer players gain weight?

Soccer players gain weight by working in the gym during training or after sessions. This is also helped by eating a high-protein diet.

Naturally, playing soccer will make a person skinny, but weight and muscle are needed to give extra strength on the field.

While speed is an important factor in soccer, several physical duals are involved in soccer which requires muscle strength.

Players ultimately work on their soccer skills and core strength, adding weight and muscle to complete their profile.

Who is the skinniest soccer player?

Two of the most popular soccer stars that are skinny are Di Maria and Neymar. Di Maria is 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighs 165 pounds. Neymar is 5 foot 9 inches and weighs 150 pounds.

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Take a look at both of them in action. And although they’re skinny, they’re strong enough to take on the biggest opponents.

Neymar Jr - 101 Insane Humiliating Skills HD|
Neymar Highlights

Those two examples are shorter players, but what about tall players?

One fine example of a soccer player who is tall but skinny is Peter Crouch – well known to the Premier League but now retired.

Peter crouch is 6 foot 7 inches and weighs 165 pounds. Using the formula we used before, we can calculate his BMI of 18.5! Making him the skinniest soccer player (Although he has now retired).

Can soccer players be fat?

Professional soccer players can’t be fat as this will reduce their speed and capacity to complete a full game at a high level.

You can play soccer if you’re fat or overweight, but a player naturally loses this if training a week or more thrice.

Due to the number of sprints and long distances soccer players run, any excess weight is lost. This was notable during the early games of a season.

Although, pre-season training gets players into shape for the season’s opening game.

Skinny Soccer Players FAQ

Soccer Analyst and Publisher at Soccer Blade | Soccer Blade | + posts

Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.

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