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Visualization of age, height and weight of players in the 2014 FIFA World Cup (ejoh.se)
79 points by lejohnq on June 24, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments

I didn't realize soccer players were so much shorter than a lot of North American athletes in hockey, basketball, American football, and baseball.

For example, the average height of Brazil's team is 181.7 cm or 5 foot 10, whereas I wouldn't be surprised if most North American sports teams had an average height of 6 feet (much higher for basketball).

Of course, if I look at Team USA's stats, the average is 6 feet.

Also interesting to note is that the goaltender on most teams is the tallest guy.

Agility and speed is more important than size in football (soccer). Someone smaller is likely to have more agility than someone larger, but someone smaller will also get pushed around more and less likely to win head-balls or catch balls in the case of goalies. So there is a sweet spot between size, agility, and speed.

181.7 cm is half an inch smaller than 6 feet.

Another trend is that a lot of the best midfielders in the world are usually significantly shorter than the average of their teams:

Germany: Philipp Lahm 5'7" and Mario Gotze 5'9" Belgium: Eden Hazard 5'8" Italy: Andrea Pirlo 5'9.5" Netherlands: Wesley Sneijder 5'7" Spain: Xavi and Iniesta 5'7"


Diego Maradonna - 5ft 5.

Messi is one of the smallest soccer players at the WC and yet the best player there. Size doesn't matter.

Having a single example of a good short player doesn't mean size doesn't matter. There may be a positive correlation between size and "skill", and Messi is one of the best despite his size disadvantage.

Germany: Philipp Lahm 5'7" and Mario Gotze 5'9" Belgium: Eden Hazard 5'8" Italy: Andrea Pirlo 5'9.5" Netherlands: Wesley Sneijder 5'7" Spain: Xavi and Iniesta 5'7"

historically the best players have been on the shorter side. Maradona was 5'5'', Pele 5'8''. One of the greatest parts of soccer is that it doesn't immediately disqualify 70%+ of the potential talent pool based on the importance of a single attribute, like height in basketball.

size does matter. You're not going to be a great soccer player if you're 7'4".

It's not correct to disqualify a statement mentioning an exceptional cases - 7'4" is such.

Within limits of regular height, football does not disqualify anybody.

why not? I'm 7'4" and it would be foolish for me to believe that I can become a great soccer player. I'm not trying to be "correct" whatever that means. I'm just saying your size matters. Your coordination and motivation matters too.

I'm not all that clued up on non SI units, but your numbers seem to be off to me - according to Google:

5'10 = 177.8 cm

5'11 = 180.34 cm

6'0 = 182.88 cm

So, that would put the 181.7 number for Brazil a tiny bit closer to 6' than 5'11, never mind 5'10.

For football, the speed guys start at ~5' 10". The rest of the team is usually taller:


Baseball trends lower, but they still sort of start at 6':


Hockey is there too, they occupy a somewhat tighter range, but still easily beat 6'.

(I'm just a bit less than 6' and had the opportunity to stand next to a Div I NCAA football team, the majority of them towered over me, so I felt compelled to find some numbers)

I was actually surprised by how big some of these guys are. Romelu Lukaku in particular, 6'3" and 208lbs, that is much bigger than I would have expected a striker to be.

There seems to be a trend (which would also be good to visualise) of attacking players - who used to be selected by pace and ability to nip round defenders - to larger, stronger forwards who can charge through defenders

Helps them get up and head the ball, I imagine?

It makes sense that the goalkeeper is tallest, no? He needs to be able to cover a certain area and get his hand to the ball.

For tall strikers, you have Peter Crouch as an outlier at 6ft 8.

What do you suggest is a good height for soccer? Is taller always better? This might go against American thinking, but more is not always more. ;) (though I don't know if this is the case when it comes to soccer.)

> For example, the average height of Brazil's team is 181.7 cm or 5 foot 10

That's closer to 5" 11.5'.

The data here is wrong for most players.

Example: Ramires from Brazil is 73kg not 83kg. Hulk is 85kg..etc

I was wondering how accurate these heights and weights were. Are these taken from the World Cup site, or wikipedia or something else?

There's a real height, and there's a "listed" height. A lot of people say that the "listed" height is often very wrong. Sometimes by several inches and more for certain organizations that aren't really particular about getting an accurate height.

I'd be curious to see teams ranked by the combined salaries of their players.

I'd be curious to see teams ranked by the amount of doping each player does.


Yeah, seeing avg. team salary plotted against world cup performance would be interesting. Spain and England would be right at the bottom despite the salaries (or perhaps because of).

I'd love to see some stats that take into account wages or the purchase price of players.

Each touch of the ball costs €x; each tackle costs €y etc.

Salaries before or after the WC? Or player purchase price?

Some players will vastly have increased their market value after the tournament.

Normalized by purchasing power, maybe.

The market for those guys seems to be fairly globalized.

Hm... this data doesn't seem to be 100% accurate.

Fred, from Brazil, for instance, is 30. Not 22 years old.

This kind of visualisation screams for a "small multiples" display not spread over 5+ pages. How are you supposed to get a full picture with a layout like this?!

Is the data available? What's the source?

FYI, the link to the LoTR project[0] on the about page is broken.

[0]: http://ejoh.se/worldcup2014/lotrproject.com

spain really has a disproportionnate amount of small players. That's why they use such a different kind of game (which i like a lot), with many fast short passes rather that long kick reaching the head.

I'm really surprised by their poor performance at this world cup. Does anyone here analyzing this set of stats can see another difference that would explain this bad result ?

That style of football is also dependent on closing down the opposition when Spain don't have the ball, meaning the players have to run a lot, and be fast and fit. Several of the important midfield players are now "old" (Xavi is 34, Xabi Alonso is 32, for example) so they aren't as good at that side of the game as they used to be.

Also, while it was completely new 6 years ago when they won the European Championship, now people know what to expect and have better counter-tactics.

And thirdly, a lot of the Spanish players play for Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, who all had long and difficult seasons. The players weren't able to ease off at all, so must be more exhausted than normal.

Yes, Xavi has been declining for a number of years. I think it's one of the reasons the FC Barcelone isn't as good as they were. Also, Del Bosque has made some questionable player choices.

Can't find Lionel Messi on the Height vs. Weight chart based on the data from Height/Weight.

Would be interesting to see their BMI. People always say BMI is not a good indicator for athletes.

Chest to waist ratio is a much better indicator.

It isn't a good measure if they are muscular, no.

Ignore the BMI. It was an insurance company scam that became mainstream. The formula uses weight and height only, so everyone (men and women, broad and narrow, young and old) who has the same height and weight has the same BMI. According to the BMI, many muscular athletes actually fall into the morbidly obese category. Nonsense. If you want a free, accurate estimate of how much you should weigh, go here: www.weightzonefactor.com It's scientific.

Needs you to give your email address. Also I see no references why it would be scientific, most certainly not the "Science Behind The Zone" part. This is spam.

The height vs weight chart is screaming for a linear regression line.

The point of which would be pointing out that morbidly obese or underweight people don't make world-class athletes?

Depends on the sport. Chris Froome, for instance, is one skinny dude: http://inrng.com/2014/06/the-moment-the-race-was-won-2014-da... - he's the one in the yellow jersey in the 3rd picture.

He's not exactly winning many sprints. Checking out UCI World Ranking #1's on the graph, they're reasonably in the middle.


I really wish there was a kg/lbs toggle

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