Basketball players dribbling in a game.
Basketball players dribbling in a game.

Athleticism is often measured by speed, endurance, and agility. As a result, an ability to run quickly and for a long period of time is vital in many different sports, from cricket to basketball.

This post delves into how different sports compare in terms of running requirements, leading to a surprising insight into which sport demands the most from its athletes…


Basketball focuses on short, intense bursts of running. Players might cover less ground, approximately 4 to 5 kilometres per game, but the sport’s requirement for quick direction changes and constant movement places a high demand on agility and cardiovascular fitness.


Cricket may not come to mind when thinking of sports that require a lot of running, but considering the duration of a match and the near-constant running between the wickets while batting, players can rack up a considerable distance. Fielders, on the other hand, engage in frequent sprints to chase the ball, making endurance a key component of the game.


Tennis, often overshadowed in discussions of running, surprisingly involves a significant amount of it. Players run approximately 3 to 5 kilometres in a five-set match, with the catch being the short, sharp sprints and nearly constant lateral movement, testing both endurance and explosive speed.


Rugby distinguishes itself as a sport that demands a unique blend of endurance, strength, and agility from its players. With athletes running up to 7 kilometres in a game, the sport is interspersed with tackling, scrummaging, and rucking. As a result, it’s a natural test of physical and mental fortitude.

Major tournaments, such as the upcoming Six Nations, provide a vivid demonstration of these demands. At the elite level, rugby players must be supreme athletes. Even the big props in the scrum need to be able to move at speed!


Football, with its global following, is more than just a test of skill and strategy; it’s a demanding physical challenge. Players can cover distances upwards of 10 kilometres in a single match. This remarkable requirement isn’t just about distance, too. Players must sprint in attack, change direction quickly to keep up with play and continually jog into space. Football at the elite level is a very tough physical challenge.


The results are in, and it’s clear that football demands the most running from its athletes. The sheer distance covered, combined with the game’s duration and the intensity of the runs, positions football at the pinnacle of sports endurance.

While other sports present their unique challenges, including the strategic sprints in cricket, the agility required in basketball and tennis, and the overall endurance of rugby, football’s combination of endurance, strategy, and constant movement makes it the ultimate test of running prowess.