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European vs American Football: Which is the Quickest?

October 27, 2015

- Grant Whittington

Many players that have graced us with their skills in the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga over the years have been notable for their pace just as much as their goal scoring abilities. Of course when you’re sprinting along with a ball at your feet and with plenty of opposition looking to get in your way it can slow you down somewhat. As can having a charging line of huge guys bearing down on you which is more than a common experience for players in the NFL. But which sport actually has the quickest players?

Many players that have graced us with their skills in the Premier League, La Liga and Bundesliga over the years have been notable for their pace just as much as their goal scoring abilities. Of course when you’re sprinting along with a ball at your feet and with plenty of opposition looking to get in your way it can slow you down somewhat. As can having a charging line of huge guys bearing down on you which is more than a common experience for players in the NFL. But which sport actually has the quickest players?

Both sports require a decent amount of pace however they each also feature many other elements that mean that even the not-so-speedy players can get involved. Strength, skill and the ability to quickly stop and start whilst moving around quickly over a short distance is a crucial way in which to confuse and mislead your opponents. So when it comes to soccer it is difficult to measure the actual pace of a player when they are constantly shifting their feet and changing directions. It would mean the player in question would have to have a fairly clear run along the pitch to get up to a peak speed.

However when it comes to the NFL it is a little easier to measure thanks to the events of the NFL Scouting Combine. The event features every NFL player in action, takes place in February and showcases each college football player’s skills. One of the tests is the 40 yard dash which helps to directly measure the player’s top speed. Former LA Raiders player Bo Jackson was clocked at running the dash in 4.12 seconds (31.95 km/hr), however this was before digital time measurements. Therefore the speediest runner-up in the modern era is actually the Pittsburgh Steelers’ right back Dri Archer who was recorded at a top speed of 4.26 seconds (30.9 km/hr).

In comparison there are plenty of real-time tools that have helped measure not only the passes, potential angles and distances run by players in a soccer match but also the top speed in which they have ran. And in spite of some close competition from that of top European footballers Antonio Valencia, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and English players Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon the fastest player ever recorded was Dutch winger Arjen Robben who managed to achieve an incredible speed of 37 km/hr at the 2014 World Cup.

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