Best Soccer Positions For Short Players (Top 3 Explained)

One of the biggest appeals of soccer is that almost anybody can pick up a ball and play. Unlike other sports, a player's height is not usually a factor; there is a position for everybody. So with this in mind, what are the best soccer positions for short players?

Central attacking midfield (CAM) is the best position for a short player. This is because shorter players usually have a lower center of gravity which leads to better ball control. Because of this, the winger and central midfield positions are also ideal for short soccer players.

So now you know the best position for a short player, but why exactly is this the case? Do these positions need to be filled by shorter players? And what are some examples of short players who have been successful? I will answer all these questions and more in this article.

What Position do Short Soccer Players Play?

Unlike a sport such as basketball, for example, a player's height really isn't a concern in soccer. In fact, the average height of a soccer player in Europe is only 5ft 11in. And at the 2018 World Cup, the average player height was 6ft.

Short players can be very successful in soccer. In fact, they can be the very best players. Many soccer fans consider Lionel Messi the greatest of all time, and he only stands at 5ft 7in.

For a short player to be so successful, though, they need to be positioned in the correct area of the field to make the most of their abilities.

For example, it would not make any sense to position a short player as the goalkeeper or as a center back, as these positions are normally reserved for tall players.

Instead, it is usually better for a short player to play at a soccer position where they don't have to head many balls.

So what exactly are the best soccer positions for short players?

1. Central attacking midfielder (CAM)

The central attacking midfielder (often referred to as a CAM) plays as the furthest forward midfielder and is responsible for creating chances for the forward players.

Before I explain why this position suits shorter players, it is worth remembering that not every team will utilize a formation that features a CAM.

However, if the team does have one, then that position is highly likely to be played by a short player.

Why is it good for a CAM to be short?

Here are the three main reasons why it is good for a CAM to be short:

  • CAMs need good ball control and a low center of gravity:

The best reason a CAM should be short is because it is a position that requires good ball control.

Short players have a lower center of gravity compared to tall players. This usually results in the player being able to control the ball much better.

Given that the CAM will need to dribble and pass the ball with pinpoint accuracy, having this low center of gravity can only be an advantage to a short player.

  • CAMs rarely need to head the ball:

One of the main reasons it's good for a CAM to be short is that it's a position that doesn't require much heading of the ball.

Unlike defenders and strikers, players in the central area of the field will rarely have to deal with long balls being played their way.

Suppose the attacking team is playing a long pass. In that case, it probably means they're utilizing a tall target man in the striker position.

This player will look to use their height to head the ball down, either back towards the CAMs feet or onto another forward player. This is why the striker position is one of the best soccer positions for tall players.

  • CAMs do not often face tall players:

Unlike strikers, for example, the CAM will not often find themselves in a one-on-one situation with a tall center back.

CAMs usually operate in open areas of the field, or they come up against defensive and central midfield players. As it is rare for midfield players to be tall, the CAM will have no concern with getting into a physical battle with a much taller player.

Should a CAM always be short?

A CAM does not strictly have to be a short player. There have been many successful CAMs who have been of average height. 

However, it would not make any sense for a CAM to be a tall player as these types of players rarely have the ball control and passing skills that are required of this position.

For example, Thomas Muller is one of the greatest CAMs to ever play the game. Standing at a relatively average height of 6ft 1in, he's considered one of the tallest players in this position.

Examples of short CAMs:

There are many more examples of top-quality CAMs at average height, but what about short CAMs?

A Brazilian player named Élton José Xavier Gomes is the shortest professional soccer player in the world at 5ft 0.63in. He does indeed play as a CAM.

But what about world-class CAMs?

There have been many successful CAMs who have been short. Some may even say the greatest CAMs of all time have been shorter players.

Here are some examples of short CAMs who have had a major impact on their teams:

  • Diego Maradona - 5ft 5in
  • Philippe Coutinho - 5ft 8in
  • Papu Gómez - 5ft 6in

2. Winger

One forward position that can really benefit a short player is the winger. As the name suggests, wingers play on the side of the field and share many required skills as a CAM.

Why is it good for a winger to be short?

There are a few reasons why it is good for wingers to be short. A lot of these are quite similar to the CAM.

  • Wingers need good ball control and a low center of gravity:

Just like a CAM, wingers need to have very good ball control. This is because they are expected to successfully dribble the ball past opposition defenders. Once again, a short player's low center of gravity is a benefit here.

  • Wingers rarely head the ball:

Wingers are not expected to jump high to take on long passes with their heads or play through.

However, a poorly directed long high pass may end up at the winger instead of the target man. In this case, of course, the winger is expected to try to head this ball through to the striker.

  • Wingers need to be fast:

Another important requirement for a winger is speed. Wingers are usually the fastest players on the field. There's an argument to be made for both short and tall players when it comes to which one is faster.

The two fastest players in the world are Kylian Mbappé and Adama Traore, both standing at 5ft 10in. This would lead one to believe that shorter/average height players are indeed faster.

Either way, the combined ball control mixed with good speed is what makes the winger position ideal for short players.

Should a winger always be short?

No, a winger should not always be a short player. Although short players do very well in this position, average-height players tend to do just as well in the winger position.

Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo (6ft 2in), Gareth Bale (6ft 1in), and David Beckham (6ft) are good examples of average-height wingers who have succeeded in this position.

There is actually an argument made by some coaches that wingers shouldn't be too short. This is because the average height of a defender is quite tall, and coaches are sometimes afraid of shorter wingers being bullied by taller defenders.

However, if a winger is skillful and quick enough, the defender's height should not be an issue.

Examples of short wingers:

  • Lionel Messi - 5ft 7in
  • Xherdan Shaqiri - 5ft 6.5in
  • Mohamed Salah - 5ft 9in

3. Central midfielder

There's something to be said for short players actually playing as a striker. Players such as Sergio Aguero (5ft 8in) and Pelé (5ft 8in) are perfect examples of strikers who didn't let their height get in the way.

However, it makes more sense to place central midfield as the third-best position for short players.

Unsurprisingly, central midfield players have a lot in common with CAMs.

Why is it good for a central midfielder to be short?

There are again some similar reasons to CAMs and wingers why central midfield is a good position for short players.

  • Central midfielders primarily use their feet:

Much like CAMs and wingers, central midfield players will not be concerned with having to head the ball too much. 

Most passes to a central midfielder usually go over the ground to the player's feet. So being short is not a problem there.

  • Good ball control is needed in central midfield:

Again this is a position where ball control and passing are important so that a lower center of gravity becomes an advantage.

  • The other players in this part of the field are also of average or short height:

The average height for a midfield player is 5ft 11in. It's rare that you will ever see a tall player in central midfield. This is because it is a position that requires a lot of stamina, as midfielders cover more ground than any other position on the field.

Because of this, a short player will have very little concern about coming up against taller players in this field area.

However, some teams do decide to play with strong players in their midfield. These players are still rarely ever tall, though.

Should a central midfielder always be short?

No, the central midfield position does not always need to be played by a short player. 

The midfield position is one of the hardest soccer positions to play thanks to its high work rate and high skill level needed.

Therefore, the player's fitness and capability would be considered much earlier than their height and strength. Bluntly put, as long as a player is good enough to play in midfield, their height does not matter.

Examples of short central midfielders:

Here are some great examples of world-class central midfielders who never let their short height stop them from being the best:

  • Andrés Iniesta - 5ft 7in
  • Xavi - 5ft 7in
  • David Silva- 5ft 7in

Since I just mentioned Iniesta and Xavi, it is a good time to mention that playing two short and skilled central midfielders together is a good way to play against a team that has a strong and physical midfield.

There wasn't a team in the world who could compete with Barcelona's midfield when these two (Iniesta and Xavi) were in it together.

This was because the pair had some of the best ball control and passing in the world and would often just pass the ball around to tire the more physically imposing sides.


In summary, there are many positions where you can place a short soccer player. Because of the ball control required, the CAM, winger, and central midfield positions are the best for short players.

However, nothing stops a short player from becoming a successful striker or even playing in a fullback role if they want to be more defensive.

The only position not suitable for a short player is the goalkeeper. The central back position is also not ideal for short players.

November 11, 2022
Published: November 11, 2022