Playing in the NFL is physically taxing. It involves players having a nearly impossible combination of speed, strength, and mental fortitude. NFL players sacrifice more than their bodies; many lose a significant amount of weight during the game. So, what causes this extreme weight loss and how many pounds does an NFL player lose during a game?
How much does the average NFL player weigh?
To determine how much the average NFL player loses, one must first ascertain an average player’s weight. A study from the University of Idaho examined players by position:
- Quarterbacks: 224.97 pounds
- Running backs: 214.48 pounds
- Wide receivers: 200.32 pounds
- Tight ends: 254.26 pounds
- Full backs: 244.43 pounds
- Offensive linemen: 314.16 pounds
- Defensive backs: 200.10 pounds
- Defensive ends: 278.99 pounds
- Defensive tackles: 308.97 pounds
- Kickers: 202.58 pounds
- Punters: 214.32 pounds
These weights make sense. Players like offensive and defensive lineman go up against each other, so they need more mass, whereas wide receivers and running backs are smaller and typically lighter.
NFL players’ preparation for a game
Each position has a set of routines they complete to get game-ready. Every player has a different responsibility and therefore will have a different set of preparations they undergo to get ready for Sunday.
For example, an offensive lineman will look to build strength and keep their weight consistently high. This means they may apply more resistance and strength training. Conversely, a wide receiver will want to remain fleet of foot so they can run past equally slim defensive backs. That may mean more cardiovascular workouts.
The ways players prepare for the games will inevitably impact the amount of moisture — and weight — they lose during a game.
How much weight players lose by position
Two resources have examined how much weight players lose by position.
In 2008, the Journal of Athletic Training conducted a study titled, “Sweat Rates and Fluid Turnover in Professional Football Players: A Comparison of National Football League Linemen and Backs.” The study compared linemen and running backs’ sweat loss, fluid consumption, and weight loss. Here are some of the key findings from the study:
- During twice-daily preseason practices, NFL linemen had higher sweat rates and greater sweat loss volume compared with backs and receivers.
- Linemen consumed more fluids than receivers and backs but produced less urine, resulting in a smaller percentage of weight loss.
- Significant correlations existed between sweat rate and body surface area and between sweat rate and mass.
Additionally, Scientific American looked at a similar topic, “How Much Water Weight Can a Player Lose During a Game?” Chris Fischetti, an athletic trainer for the Buffalo Bills, told the online resource:
Athletic trainers usually try to make sure players don’t lose more than about 3 percent of their overall weight during a practice session (although some may lose more). So, a running back might drop four to five pounds (around two kilograms) during a game, and a lineman might expend closer to nine pounds (four kilograms).
Ultimately, linemen appear to lose more weight, but the percentage of weight they drop is smaller. This is probably due to the fact that they’re starting out with much more mass to begin with. Either way, both sets of athletes drop a considerable amount of weight during a game.