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How fit are basketball players compared to other sports?

In this guide, we’re delving into some of the statistics and opinions to see where basketball ranks among the most physically demanding sports.
Giannis Antetokounmpo tired

Giannis Antetokounmpo Game 1 vs. Celtics

Fans like to debate on different nuances of their favorite sports. Some even like to claim their favorite is better than that of others, but the truth is that most of the debates are impossible to measure.

When it comes to fitness, though, there is an interesting discussion to be had. In this guide, we’re delving into some of the statistics and opinions.

If you are the sort of person who gambles on sport, then in between finding sportsbook bonuses in New York or elsewhere in the US, there's every chance that you are studying statistics about the players, including the ground they cover. Stats can make your gambling more successful, but they can also provide a lot of facts about the sport.

The physical challenges of basketball

Basketball is not actually the sport where players cover the most distance. It isn’t even the team sport where the most miles are run.

In a sport such as soccer, it is possible that players can run almost 10 miles in a match in some situations, which is an incredible amount of ground to cover. And while that isn't the case with basketball, its intensity presents different forms of physical challenges.

It is very rare in basketball that players get to jog around the court or even slow their pace. They may cover about 2.5 miles in a game, but this will almost entirely be in sprints -- tennis is one of the few sports comparable to this.

Another similarity between tennis and basketball is the continual change of direction. Basketball is an incredibly fast sport, and the players are constantly having to twist, turn and change direction.

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The other huge demand that comes with basketball, that not many other sports have, is the demand to jump.

Did you know that most people can only jump about 20 inches? In the NBA, there are plenty of players with around a 30-inch vertical, but occasionally you find an incredible jumper, such as Michael Jordan, who had an incredible 46-inch vertical.

The strain and demand that puts on a body, along with the fact that basketball players are sprinting the whole time, shows that you have to be a remarkable physical specimen to reach the top of this sport.

Burning calories

Calories could be another way to measure sporting disciplines against each other. It’s incredibly hard to actually know the difference between two sports without playing them at a high level. Still, we can roughly measure calories burned, which takes into account all athletic performance.

Soccer, competitive running, and tennis are the mainstream sports that either burn more calories or a similar number of calories. As we’ve already discussed, soccer players have to be incredibly good at covering long distances throughout a 90-minute game. 

Calories burned is one metric that is a really good way to compare sports. Still, at this level of intensity, we’re talking about sports that feature some incredible stars who all have the capacity to burn calories to a very high degree. Of course, these superstars also don’t need to lose weight, like many of us do.

An 82-game season

This is often overlooked in the world of sports. The physical demands of the sport are not just about the fact that taking part is difficult, it is about the continual relentlessness of the season.

In a basketball season at the top level, there are at least 82 different games to take part in, sometimes with a short turnaround for recovery in between. The fitness of the players is a measure of the fact that they can run around and burn calories for the entire duration of a match and continue to perform at this high level, time and time again.


This is one of those enjoyable debates to have as we try to work out which sports stars are the fittest, but the truth is that soccer players, footballers, and basketball players are all incredible athletes.

Basketball is a great way to stay fit, and at the professional level, the stars are truly impressive.

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