Basketball vs. Soccer: Which is Harder?

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Sometimes, it’s pointless to compare two very different sports, but the discussion can be fascinating. At the very least, you could know a lot about the said sport and maybe come to appreciate it. Case on point– basketball vs. soccer. Is soccer harder than basketball, or is it the other way around? Before we come to any conclusion, let’s know a little more about basketball and football.

What is the Difference Between Playing Basketball and Soccer

What is the Difference Between Playing Basketball and Soccer?

They are, as mentioned, two very different sports and you can quickly tell one from the other. Just a quick note: Soccer is referred to as football in many countries.

Here is an outline of the differences between soccer and basketball:

  • Equipment and playing court/field. Football, or soccer, uses a round black and white ball with hexagonal patterns. On the other hand, basketball uses an orange leather (or synthetic leather) ball with symmetrical lines encircling it. As for the football game itself, it is played on a grass surface 375 feet in length and 195 feet wide. Basketball is played on a concrete or wooden court with dimensions of 94×50 feet.
  • Goals and Scoring. In football, you try to score on the enemy’s goal, which is as big as the average garage– 8 feet high and 24 feet wide. A goal is worth just one point. In basketball, teams try to put the ball through a basket 18 inches in diameter, hung 10 feet high.
  • Gameplay. You refer to a basketball contest as a “game” while a football competition is called a “match.” A football match lasts 90 minutes with 45-minute halves; basketball is played in 12-minute quarters professionally. High school basketball is played in 8-minute quarters and the college level by 20-minute halves. International basketball sanctioned by FIBA is played in four 10-minute quarters.
  • Basic Rules. The most basic rule in football is you use your feet to move around with the ball. In basketball, you use your feet to run around, either on offense or defense. When the ball touches your feet, it will most likely be called a “kicking violation,” and the ball goes to the opposite team.

What is the Difference Between Playing Basketball and Soccer

  • Gear. In basketball, players wear shorts, tank-top jerseys, and high-performance basketball shoes. In football, players wear cleats, shorts, and t-shirt/polo-type jerseys. Most of the time, organized basketball is played indoors, while football has its matches outdoors.
  • Fastbreaks vs. offside. A common basketball strategy is beating down opponents to the rim for an easy score. It is called a fastbreak. In football, this philosophy is more controlled, if you will, because of the offside rule. A player may be called for an “offside” if he is nearer to the opponent’s goal than the second-last defender. 
  • Game dismissals. Basketball allows a player to commit six personal fouls (five in non-professional games) before “fouling out.” That means he is thrown out of the game. In football, players are given either a yellow card or a red card. A red card means outright dismissal in the game, while a yellow card is given as a warning. Two yellow cards institute a dismissal.

What Skill Sets are Required for Soccer vs. BasketballWhat Skill Sets are Required for Soccer vs. Basketball?

Football requires fundamental skills like basketball. We can’t say outright which sport is better soccer or basketball, but let’s see what they are:

Fundamental Skills for Soccer

  • Passing. Possibly one of the most essential skills in football. The only way to get the ball up the length of the field is through passing. Most goals are also the product of good team passing.
  • Receiving. Just as equally important is the skill of receiving a pass. If a pass is not well-received, the opponents could easily pick it up and go the other way.
  • Dribbling. There will be times when a pass is not possible, so you have to “dribble” or move the ball up the field yourself. A football player dribbles the ball, especially if he sees an open field ahead of him. Nevertheless, he should make sure not to push the ball too far to his body so he could still pass, change direction, or go for the foal in a flinch.
  • Striking/Shooting. This means trying to score a goal. Scoring a goal demands a lot of accuracy, strength, and wile. Most of the time, the target is the high corners where the goalies couldn’t reach.
  • Goalkeeping. Goalkeeping is a defensive skill done by, well, a goalkeeper or the goalie. The goalie is the last line of defense, therefore making this position very critical. The objective is not to always catch the ball but to keep it from getting past the goal line. The goalie may do this by punting or simply redirecting the ball away from the goal and possibly towards a teammate.

What Skill Sets are Required for Soccer vs. Basketball

Fundamental Skills for Basketball

  • Shooting. Like in football, shooting in basketball is about scoring baskets. This is probably the easiest skill to practice since you can do it alone.
  • Dribbling/Ballhandling. Dribbling is the bouncing of the ball, mainly intending to move towards a comfortable spot. Like shooting, you can also practice dribbling individually.
  • Passing. Passing is probably the most intricate offensive skill to master. It requires good vision, timing, accuracy, and basketball IQ.
  • Defending. Defense in basketball is about stopping the other team from scoring. A player may do this by stealing, blocking, or simply making opposing players take tough shots.
  • Rebounding. A rebound is a secured ball possession after a missed shot. If one of your teammates clanked a shot attempt, it’s called an offensive rebound. If an opponent has missed the shot and you secure the ball afterward, that’s called a defensive rebound. It is also a tough skill to master since it requires timing, positioning, and physicality to secure rebounds.

Is Soccer More Physical Than BasketballIs Soccer More Physical Than Basketball?

It depends on what “physical” means because it goes one way or the other.

If by “physical” you mean the multiple effort required by the players in terms of bodies banging into each other, basketball can be more physical. On the other hand, if by “physical” you mean physically demanding, the endurance needed to play soccer is on another stratosphere.

The truth is, the physical demands of soccer and basketball are very different. However, in most eyes, soccer is definitely a harder overall sport than basketball. Here’s why:

Top 5 Reasons Soccer is Harder than Basketball

Top 5 Reasons Soccer is Harder than Basketball

1. Football players are required to run further and to play with unnatural motions.

On average, a soccer player runs 7 to 10 miles a game. Basketball players only run 2.55 miles per game on average. What’s more, football skills defy a human’s natural motion. When you’re trying to catch something or throw something, you instinctively use your hands. Obviously, that’s not the case with football.

Top 5 Reasons Soccer is Harder than Basketball

2. A football game is much longer.

Forty-eight minutes vs. ninety minutes? When it comes to the game length between basketball vs football, it’s obviously the latter who comes on top. That means it’s also much harder and probably the most physically demanding sport that has something to do with a ball.

3. It is much harder to score a goal in soccer than a basket in basketball.

You can attribute this fact to various reasons, but the number of players on the field is at the top of the list. There are 22 players on the field and two of those are dedicated to stopping every ball that comes their way. For an international football match, the highest recorded goal was “only” 31. In basketball, getting to 100 is chicken feed in an NBA game.

4. Because it’s harder to score in soccer, it involves more strategy. 

If you think 5 people in basketball have a difficult time coordinating their movements, think about 11. Not only do football teams think of getting past every defender, but they also have to do something about the goalie who’s hellbent on swatting all balls outside the goal line.

5. It is more dangerous.

Don’t get me wrong, people have been hurt very badly in basketball before, but football is just on another level regarding the frequency of concussions. In fact, you are 75% likely to have a concussion when playing soccer than playing any other sport. And what’s more, when opposing players are allowed to slide underneath you, a lot of things can go very wrong. That’s a recipe for broken ligaments, knees, tendons, etc. Football takes the cake when it comes to the risk of injury in the basketball vs. football conversation.

Basketball vs. Soccer_ Which Should You ChooseBasketball vs. Soccer: Which Should You Choose?

If it’s simply about soccer vs. basketball popularity, we know which got that one in the bag. But when it comes to choice, there is no right or wrong answer. Some will surely choose one over the other, but it would all come down to what sport you’re better with and what sport you’re better equipped to play.

For example, if you’re the height of an Average American (5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9), do you think you could make it far playing basketball? Only 25 players in NBA history are 6-feet or under. Calvin Murphy, at 5-foot-9, is the shortest Hall of Fame inductee.

Now, let’s turn the tables. If you are 6-foot-7, do you think you could be a soccer player? Well, to put things in perspective, the average height of German and Spanish football players is 5-foot-11 to 6-feet. Goalies are generally taller by a couple of inches. Shorter guys have a better chance at soccer since they are lower to the ground, that’s why you don’t see many 6-foot-7 guys in football.

There should also be a skill or talent consideration when it comes to choosing a sport. If you have good hand-eye coordination, you are probably going to do well in basketball. On the other hand, footwork and stamina are essential in football. Figure out what you’re naturally good at, and you will have the answer in this basketball vs. soccer choice of sport.

Wrapping Things Up: Basketball vs. Soccer: Which is Harder?

Basketball and soccer are two very different sports that require very different skills. When playing the former, your hands are the most important parts of the body, while the latter obviously needs quicker and skilled feet. So, is soccer harder than basketball?

Although there are similar game elements, there is no denying that soccer is the more challenging sport for various reasons. 

First, it is played in a bigger field, requiring the players to run up to nine or 10 miles a game over 90 minutes. (This is the reason why football players are generally faster than basketball guys.) Second, there are more players in the field, which means more people on defense are focusing on stopping your advancement. Hence, there are substantially fewer successful scoring opportunities in football. Third, it is probably one of the most physically demanding sport in terms of endurance considering it has 90 minutes of game time and fewer breaks.

Still, that doesn’t mean soccer isn’t fun or safe to play. After all, it is the most popular sport with billions of followers all over the world. It’s just that it requires more from the players compared to basketball. At the end of the day, it’s up to us to choose what sport we like best. Whatever you choose in this short basketball vs. soccer discussion, just make sure you enjoy it with friends or people that you care about.

Did you enjoy this post? Then you’ll love the other basketball FAQ articles here.

> Basketball vs. Football: Which is Harder?

> Who Earns More: Basketball or Soccer Players?

> Who Earns More: Basketball or Football Players?

> Netball vs. Basketball: What’s the Difference?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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