Champions League final: how much energy can players produce?

This weekend Juventus face holders Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final at the National Stadium of Wales in Cardiff.

While the hype may be around the team line-ups and who will come out on top, have you thought about how much energy players will produce this weekend?

A game of football is characterised by intensity – short sprints are mixed between periods of walking, jogging and moderate-paced running.

Let’s take a look into this maximal intermittent form of exercise and see just how much energy football players will produce…
Intensity and distance covered

During a football game all three types of energy would be used, as intensity changes from low to high.

However, because it’s not clear just how fast, how many and how long the sprints are, as well as how easy and how long the intervening periods are, it’s not easy to determine which of the energy systems are most important.

In 1976, two English researchers, Thomas and Reilly analysed the patterns of football players in the old first division.

They worked out that a player would change their energy activity every 5-6 seconds, and on average would sprint for 15 meters every 90 seconds.

According to SportVU the average distance covered by a football player is 15km.

Thomas and Reilly found that of the distance covered over the 90 minutes, the average football payer’s energy could be broken down into the following intensities:

  • 25% walking – 3.7km
  • 37% jogging – 5.55km
  • 20% running (below top speed) – 3km
  • 11% sprinting – 1.65
  • 7% running backwards – 1.05


Calculating the energy used

If we take the average distance to be 15km over a period of 90 minutes with the average weight of a player being 70 kg’s – the energy usage per player would be 1575 kcal (6615 Kjoules).

With this total, we can then work out how much power is generated by converting this figure into a unit for measuring electricity.

By converting this figure to watts and then kilowatts, 1,575 kilocalories would be 1.84 kWh. A team of 20 players (excluding the 2 goalkeepers and reserves) would generate 36.8 kWh.
What could these 20 players power?

Using the total of 36.8 kWh, 20 football players competing in the Champions League final could power:

  • A coffee machine for just under a year (if used 10 minutes every day)
  • A microwave oven for up to 20 weeks (if used for 1,5 hours per week)
  • An LED TV for 7 months (if used 4 hours a day)
  • A low-energy light bulb (12W) for almost 3 years (if used 5 hours per day)
  • An electric shaver (8 -12W) for 123 years (if used 5 minutes every day)

Of course this is not an accurate measurement, as each player’s work rate differs. However, it does show the potential energy that can be created by footballers.

Human energy generation won’t save the world’s energy crises anytime soon, but they remain a foundation for generating clean energy in the future.

Self-powering gym workstations are currently one way the human body can help produce electricity.



Image Credit: Sky Sports

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