Best Soccer Position For Slow Players (Top 3 Explained)

Soccer has always been a sport that benefits fast players. Due to the size of a professional soccer field, being able to cover a lot of ground as fast as possible is an important trait. However, not every player is lucky enough to be gifted with natural pace. So what is the best soccer position for slow players?

The best soccer position for a slow player is the goalkeeper position. This is because goalkeepers do the least amount of running. If a slow player does not have the skills to play in goal, then slow players can also play in defensive midfield or as a center back.

So now you know that the best position for slow players is the goalkeeper, but why exactly is this? What are other positions good for slow players? And what examples are there of slow players in these positions? I will answer all these questions and more in this article.

What Position do Slow Soccer Players Play?

If you're a soccer team coach, it can be very difficult deciding where to position the slower players in your team.

This is because positioning a slow player in positions that require a lot of speed could cost your team the game and waste the slower player's other abilities.

Just because a player is slow does not mean they don't have the talent and skills needed to be a great soccer player. They just need to be utilized in their best position.

In fact, some of the best soccer players of all time were probably viewed as slow runners when compared to some of their peers. Thankfully, they found a soccer position that suited their talents.

I will now list the top 3 best soccer positions for slow players.

1. Goalkeeper

This may seem obvious, but the best position for a slow player is definitely the goalkeeper.

However, the goalkeeper is actually the hardest position to play in soccer, so the slow player will need the correct skills to play as a goalkeeper.

Why is the goalkeeper position good for slow players?

The goalkeeper position is beneficial for slow players because it's the soccer position that runs the least.

According to a study that monitored 62 elite-level goalkeepers over 109 matches, goalkeepers ran for an average of 221 meters (241 yards) during a 90-minute game. They covered 56 meters (61 yards) while running at high speed and sprinted for only 11 meters (12 yards).

During an entire soccer game, goalkeepers covered an average distance of 5,611 meters (6,136 yards). However, 73% of that distance was covered while walking.

To compare this to an outfield position, midfielders cover an average distance of 10,611 meters (11,604 yards). Of these, 719 meters (786.3 yards) are being run at a high intensity, while 114 meters (124.6 yards) are spent sprinting.

As you can see, goalkeepers do much less running. Because of this, there really isn't much need for a goalkeeper to be fast.

A goalkeeper will only need to use speed if they want to rush out from their goal to take the ball from an attacking player.

Goalkeepers also need to be quick when diving to save the ball. However, this has more to do with agility than pure speed.

Should this position always be played by the slowest players?

As I have already mentioned, the goalkeeper position is the hardest in soccer. Therefore, how slow or fast a player is really shouldn't come into consideration when picking a goalkeeper.

The specific skills needed for this position are much more important than pace. However, if a goalkeeper is slow, it shouldn't affect their ability to play in this position.

Examples of slow players in this position:

  • Jan Oblak

Oblak is unquestionably one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He is not a very fast player, though. In fact, he's quite slow.

Standing at 6ft 2in, Oblak is a big player who shouldn't be expected to move very fast. Thankfully, that does not stop him from being one of the best shot-stoppers of all time.

  • Marc-Andre Ter Stegen

Ter Stegen is another world-class goalkeeper who is known for his size and strength rather than his speed. Ter Stegen shares a similar body build to Oblak as well as a similar slow speed.

  • Gianluigi Donnarumma

The 6ft 5in Italian giant may be surprisingly quick for his size, but don't expect Donnarumma to be able to outrun any of his outfield teammates.

2. Defensive midfielder

If a slow player does not have the qualities to play as a goalkeeper, then the defensive midfield role would be the second-best position for them to play.

Like the goalkeeper, the defensive midfielder still has many responsibilities, making it an extremely difficult job regardless of player speed.

Why is the defensive midfielder position good for slow players?

Playing as defensive midfielder suits slow players because the player does not have to sprint much.

However, it is worth remembering that midfield players run the most in soccer. So although there isn't much fast-paced sprinting involved, the player still needs to be physically fit to play here.

Should this position always be played by the slowest players?

It is never ideal for a slow player to be playing outfield. However, the defensive midfield is a position that can facilitate a player who can't run fast.

A defensive midfielder only needs to sprint when an attacking player bursts through the middle of the field and needs to be chased down.

But even then, the center backs should be in place to try and stop the attacker if the defensive midfielder is unable to. This means that a slow player should not always play this position. However, it's not too much of a concern if it is.

Examples of slow players in this position:

  • Sergio Busquets

Barcelona's long-standing defensive midfielder, Sergio Busquets, has never been the fastest of players. He trails way behind soccer's fastest players with a top speed of only 18.5mph (29.90 km/h).

In comparison, his former Barcelona teammate, Neymar Jr, has a top speed of 21.6 mph (34.8 km/h).

  • Jorginho

Having won the Champions League and a European Championship in the same season, there's no denying how good Jorginho is. Just don't expect him to outrun any other players on the field anytime soon.

  • Cesc Fàbregas

Having won nearly everything there is to win, Fàbregas is one of the greatest midfield players (recently turned defensive midfielder) ever to play the game.

With a top speed of 17.8 mph (28.65 km/h), he's also one of the slowest ever.

3. Center back

The third best position for a slow player would be the center back. It is worth remembering, though, that the center back has a lot of responsibilities, so this would still be a risky position for a slow player.

Why is the center back position good for slow players?

A slow player might fit well as a center back because of the small amount of running a center back has to do compared to other positions.

The center back position is the outfield position that requires the least amount of running. It is the position that runs the second-least amount in total.

A center back's job is to be positioned in the right place to stop the attacking players from shooting. A good center back will be able to do this with good positioning rather than having to chase players down.

This is why slow players are often positioned as center backs. Some center backs can even play into their late thirties at an elite level if their positional play is good enough.

Should this position always be played by the slowest players?

No, the center back position should not always be played by a slow player. In fact, it's better for the team if the center back is fast, just in case they find themselves in a one-on-one chase with a forward player.

However, there have been slow players who have had great success at the position of center back.

It's also worth noting that coaches will often put their strongest and tallest players at center back. This results in a lot of center backs being slower players.

Examples of slow players in this position:

  • Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva has not always been a slow player, but he has never been fast either. He once hit speeds up to 19.95 mph (32.1 km/h).

But since joining Chelsea in his late thirties, his pace has taken a noticeable dip for obvious reasons.

However, this has not stopped Silva from being one of the top center backs in the Premier League. Silva will often use his great positioning skills to reduce the amount of running he needs to do.

  • Sergio Ramos

Ramos is another example of a center back who has never been gifted with high speed. And as he got older, he also adjusted his style of play to avoid as much running as possible.

  • Harry Maguire

Maguire is well known for being one of the slowest center backs in the Premier League. Yet, he still makes the starting eleven for both England and Manchester United time and time again.


Although soccer is a game that benefits from fast players, there is still room for slower players to find a suitable position and become one of the best on the team.

Some of the best players of all time have been athletes who would be considered slow compared to some of their peers.

If a slow player has the abilities needed, they can easily excel as a goalkeeper, a defensive midfielder, or even as a center back. This is because these positions require particular skills that are more important than speed.

November 10, 2022
Published: November 10, 2022