Basketball vs. Soccer: An Epic Comparison Guide [2023]

There’s something about sports that brings people together. 

And whether it’s basketball or soccer, fans of each sport are constantly arguing about which one is superior. I’m here to tell you that they’re both fantastic sports, and it depends on what you’re looking for in a game.

On the surface, they seem pretty similar – you have a ball, and you try to put it in a net. But when you start to look at the details, significant differences between basketball and soccer emerge.

For one thing, basketball is way more physical than soccer. Soccer is much more about finesse and technique.

So, are you ready to dive deep into the world of basketball vs. soccer

Let’s take a closer look at these two popular sports.


Basketball vs. Soccer: A Comparison

Let’s compare these two sports side-by-side:

What is Soccer?

Soccer is a sport played by two teams of eleven players with a ball. Players cannot use their hands in this game – only the Goalkeeper can do that.

two soccer players

The objective is to score goals by getting the ball into the other team’s goal. Players can do this by kicking the ball, heading the ball, or using any other part of their body except their hands or arms. 

The team that scores the most goals in a game wins. Soccer is a popular sport worldwide. It is also one of the most popular sports to bet on, with many fans enjoying placing wagers on their favorite teams.

What is Basketball?

Basketball is a sport where two teams of five players face off on a wooden court. The game’s object is to score points by shooting a ball through a hoop. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins. 

Basketball match in process

Basketball is a fast-paced and exciting sport that requires teamwork, stamina, and quick reflexes. It is one of the most popular sports globally and has existed for over 100 years since it was invented by the founding father, James Naismith.

Team Composition

When you compare soccer and basketball, you’ll notice that they’re both team sports. But the way those teams are structured is quite different.

Soccer Team

In soccer, there are 11 players on the field, including the goalkeeper. The game’s object is to score goals by kicking the ball into the other team’s net.

Basketball teams also have 11 players, divided into five players who stay on the court for the entire game and six who come off the bench as substitutes.

The game’s object is to score points by shooting the ball through the other team’s hoop.

Girls Basketball Team

Now that we know a little more about how to play each sport, let’s dive deeper into the positions in each sport.

Related read: Basketball vs Football Popularity.

What are the Positions in Basketball and Soccer?

Let’s take a look at those positions, starting with soccer.

  • Goalkeeper – The goalkeeper is the only player on the field who can use their hands, and their job is to protect the net.
  • Defenders – Defenders are responsible for stopping the other team from scoring.
  • Midfielders – Midfielders play both offense and defense. They help connect the forwards to the defenders.
  • Forwards – Forwards are responsible for scoring goals.

Basketball teams also have specific positions, but since there are only five players on the court at a time, those positions are less defined, no matter the NBA division.

Here are the positions in basketball:

  • Point Guard – The point guard is responsible for running the team’s offense. They bring the ball up the court and try to set up their teammates for scoring opportunities.
  • Shooting Guard – The shooting guard is responsible for, you guessed it, shooting the ball. They are typically the team’s best shooter or slasher.
  • Small Forward – The small forward is a jack-of-all-trades. They need to be able to shoot, dribble, and defend. They’re also typically taller than the Shooting Guard or the Point Guard.
  • Power Forward – The power forward is responsible for rebounding and scoring in the paint. They are typically bigger and stronger than the Small Forward.
  • Center – The center is responsible for protecting the hoop, scoring low in the paint, and rebounding. So they’re kind of like the big bully on the court.

What Skill Sets are Required for Basketball vs. Soccer?

To excel at basketball, players need to have good hand-eye coordination, move quickly, and have good shooting and dribbling skills

basketball player shooting the ball

Soccer requires good stamina, footwork, and ball-handling skills. Both sports also require good teamwork and strategic thinking.

You’ll find that basketball players are a lot taller, on average, than soccer players. That’s because height gives players an advantage in shooting and rebounding. They need to perform vertical jumps often.

Soccer players need to be quick and agile, with good stamina to run up and down the field for 90 minutes. 

Lionel Messi is arguably the best soccer player in the world, and he’s only 5’7″! So clearly, height is less critical in soccer.

Lionel Messi

The intensity of the Game

If you want a fast-paced, high-intensity sport, basketball leads in intensity. With its breakneck speeds and aerial acrobatics, basketball is constantly thrilling fans with its action. 

Soccer may not have the same explosive plays, but it makes up for it with its strategic nuance and wide-open field. There are few things more exciting than a well-executed counter-attack in soccer or a last-minute game-winning goal.

When it comes to the game’s intensity, it depends on what the spectator prefers. If you want non-stop action, then basketball is your sport.

But if you prefer a more strategic and cerebral game, then soccer is your best option.


Soccer and basketball are two of the most popular sports globally, and they both have a large following of dedicated fans. Many consider both soccer and basketball for first date options.

However, there is a clear winner: basketball when it comes to entertainment value. Basketball is a fast-paced and highly physical sport that is packed with action from start to finish. 

Sports Entertainment

In contrast, soccer can often be a slow and methodical game, with long periods where nothing much happens. 

Additionally, soccer games are often decided by a single goal, leaving fans feeling frustrated and disappointed. For these reasons, basketball is generally more entertaining to watch than soccer.

Physicality and Physical Fitness

As we mentioned, basketball is a much more physical sport than soccer. In basketball, players are constantly jumping, running, and bumping into each other.

While there is some contact in soccer, it’s nothing like the physicality of basketball.

As a result, basketball players need to be in excellent physical shape. They need strong muscles, good endurance, jumping ability, and quick reflexes.

Soccer players also need to be in good physical shape, but since the game is not as physical as basketball, players don’t need to be quite as muscular. However, soccer players need good stamina since the game is played for 90 minutes straight.

In terms of physical fitness, soccer requires more endurance, while basketball requires more strength and power.

Here’s a video that compares the physicality between basketball and soccer:

Tactics and Psychology

In basketball, the court is divided into two main areas – the front and backcourt. The frontcourt is where most of the scoring takes place. The taller, more physical players patrol this area. The backcourt is where the point guard operates – they are the team’s quickest players. 

Because of this division of labor, basketball tends to be a more linear sport, with players moving up and down the court in straight lines.

soccer ball

There is also a greater emphasis on one-on-one play, as players often have to fight through double teams to get to the basket.

In soccer, there is no field division, and all players contribute to both offense and defense. As such, soccer tends to be a more fluid sport, with players constantly moving around the field. 

There is also more emphasis on team play, as passes often have to be made between multiple defenders to create scoring opportunities.

Both require split-second decisions and quick reflexes, emphasizing team cooperation and strategic thinking.

For example, in basketball, players must constantly decide where to move and when to shoot, all while trying to keep the ball away from the opposing team. 

This requires physical agility and mental sharpness, and an awareness of one’s surroundings. Soccer players must also make quick decisions, whether it’s passing the ball to a teammate or making a run for the goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Basketball Better than Soccer?

It’s a tough question, but we know the answer is basketball. Here’s why: basketball is more exciting to watch. 

With its fast pace and high-scoring games, basketball is always thrilling. Soccer, on the other hand, can often be slow and methodical. So if you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping spectator sport, basketball is the clear winner. 

Now, I’m sure soccer fans will staunchly refute our claim that basketball is better. But that’s just their opinion. As the great poet Drake once said, “opinions are like a**holes, everyone’s got one.”

Which is More Popular, Soccer or basketball?

There’s no doubt that both basketball and soccer are popular sports. But which one is more popular?

In the United States, basketball is more popular than soccer. According to a 2019 poll, basketball is the second most popular sport in the US (behind football), while soccer is the third most popular sport.

However, globally, soccer is more popular than basketball. Soccer is the most popular sport globally, while basketball ranks as the fourth most popular sport.

Which players are more fit, soccer or basketball?

Soccer players require a higher level of aerobic fitness, while basketball players require a higher level of power and hand-eye coordination. Both soccer players and basketball players need to be in top shape when it comes to physical fitness. 

Soccer requires players to have good endurance, as they need to be able to run up and down the field for the entire game.

Basketball players also need to be in excellent shape, as they need to be able to run up and down the court. They must also have good jumping ability, as they need to be able to grab rebounds and make slam dunks.

Is Basketball or Soccer More Technical?

Basketball and soccer are both incredibly technical sports. Soccer requires more finesse and technique, while basketball is a little more physical. 

However, both sports require excellent coordination, strength, agility, and stamina. Steph Curry and Lionel Messi – two of the greatest athletes in the world – are excellent examples of how technical each sport can be.

Does Basketball Or Soccer require more strategy?

Basketball is a lot more strategic than soccer. There are set plays and offensive/defensive schemes in basketball that players must execute flawlessly. Soccer is much more free-flowing and chaotic – while there are specific strategies that teams can employ, it is less structured than basketball.

Is Basketball Safer than Soccer?

No, basketball is not safer than soccer. One study analyzed Emergency department–treated injuries and concluded that basketball contributed to more than 300% more emergency visits than soccer. In addition, the basketball injury rate per 1000 US population is 1.49 while the soccer injury rate is 0.43.

Who makes more money (salary) in basketball vs soccer?

According to the average salary, the NBA pays more. In the NBA, the average player earns around $7.5 million per year, while the average player takes home just over $3 million in the Premier League. However, it is essential to note that these are just averages, and there is a wide range of salaries in both sports. 

Specific teams pay their players significantly more than others in the Premier League. For example, Manchester United is known for paying their players much higher salaries than other teams in the league. In the top Premier League teams, it’s very possible for players to make more than the average NBA player. 

Superstars in both sports make serious bank. Lionel Messi made $41million in 2022, and Steph Curry made $45.78 million in 2022.


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