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Cycling vs Soccer (Football) – 11 Differences

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Although cycling and soccer are vastly different sports, I see a lot of online debate on which is better. Come on, folks – they’re majorly different! I’ve done both for the best part of 35 years and can vouch for the different benefits you get from both.

But what are the major differences between the two sports?

The main 11 differences between cycling and soccer (football) are:

  1. Cost of equipment
  2. Impact of terrain
  3. Expected physical demands
  4. Teamwork
  5. Winning the game
  6. Player physical contact
  7. Impact of weather conditions
  8. Risk of injury
  9. Level of accessibility
  10. Skills required
  11. Training for the sport

In this post, I’ll outline:

  • The type of sport that cycling is.
  • The type of sport that soccer is.
  • The main 11 differences between the two.
cycling vs soccer - differences

What Kind Of a Sport Is Cycling?

When it comes to cycling, it’s an endurance sport that requires you to keep going over long distances. It’s great for your cardiovascular health and it’s a low-impact way to exercise your legs. But that’s not all – cycling can also help with building strength and flexibility (Source).

When it comes to competitive cycling, there are different types of events to choose from, like road racing, mountain biking, and track cycling. But cycling isn’t just for athletes, it’s a fantastic way to get out and explore, whether you’re riding for fun or using your bike for commuting.

What Kind Of a Sport Is Soccer (Football)?

Simply put, soccer is a team sport. It involves two teams of players working together to compete against each other.

It requires a combination of physical and mental skills, such as endurance, speed, agility, coordination, strategy, and teamwork.

Soccer is also categorized as a high-intensity sport because it involves bursts of sprinting and quick movements, as well as combining a significant amount of cardio.

How Are They Similar?

Social Activities

The first is that these two are great social activities for people of all ages. They are also a great way to burn calories and improve overall fitness levels.

Both cycling and soccer require a certain amount of physical endurance, coordination, and balance, which can be improved with regular practice and training.

Recreational and Competitive

Another thing that makes these activities similar is that they can be enjoyed both recreationally and competitively.

Whether you’re cycling for fun on a sunny day or participating in a competitive cycling race, or just playing soccer in the park with friends, these activities are a great way to stay energized and enjoy the outdoors.

Cycling Vs. Soccer – 11 Main Differences

Now that I’ve covered the similarities, let’s move on to the differences.

Here we go…

1. Cost of equipment

The first difference between the two is equipment.

Cycling requires a considerable investment in equipment, with bicycles and protective gear ranging from relatively affordable to very pricey.

However, once you have the necessary gear, cycling can be a relatively low-cost activity that can be enjoyed in various locations.

cycling equipment

Soccer requires minimal equipment. Pretty much soccer boots and a ball are the essentials.

Other pieces of kit you may need include:

  • Shorts
  • Shinpads
  • A shirt
  • Socks
  • Goalkeeping gloves
soccer equipment

To be honest, if you’re playing in the park, all you’ll need is some kind of sports shoes. That’s pretty much it.

Many of the greats, such as Pele, even learned to play with no shoes! (Source)

2. Impact Of The Terrain

You can enjoy cycling with leisurely rides or intense training on challenging terrain. The terrain differs when you are road cycling, mountain biking, and trail riding, each offers unique experiences and requires different skill sets.

For example, road cycling is typically done on paved roads and is perfect if you enjoy long rides and building endurance, while mountain biking builds your technical skills and agility to navigate through rocky terrain and obstacles. You can also benefit from varying terrain and difficulty levels to keep things interesting, too.

a scenic mountain bike ride

Soccer is a sport that is traditionally played on a field with grass or turf. The level and uniform surface of the field provides a fair playing ground for all players, and the size of the field can vary based on your level of play.

From professional soccer fields to recreational ones, you can focus on your skills and teamwork without the added challenge of rough terrain. This allows for a consistent and even game, whether you are playing casually, or as two different teams.

3. Training for the Sport

Cycling and soccer take different approaches to training. For cycling, training typically involves a mix of endurance and strength training. Endurance training helps build up your cardiovascular fitness and endurance levels, which are crucial for longer rides or races.

Meanwhile, strength training focuses on building up your leg muscles, which you’ll use to power the bike. Think of exercises like squats, lunges, and calf raises!

Soccer training, on the other hand, can involve a mix of conditioning, strength training, and skill drills. Conditioning helps build up your cardiovascular fitness, which is essential for keeping up with the fast pace of the game.

Strength training is also important, as it can help you improve your power and agility. Skill drills are crucial for honing your abilities in your specific position on the field.

Here’s an interesting video that shows the weekly routine of a footballer:

4. Levels of Teamwork

If you have participated in teams, you know that both soccer and cycling teams are different. Soccer is a team sport that relies heavily on cooperation and communication among players. Each teammate has a unique role, and success often hinges on the team’s ability to work together.

Whether it’s passing the ball or blocking an opponent, you need to be on the same page to achieve their goals.

But cycling can be done alone or with a group, depending on your preference. Group cycling can be a fun and social experience that fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, where riders can take turns leading the pack and drafting off each other, which helps conserve energy and improve speed.

Individual cycling is usually a solitary pursuit that allows you to focus on your performance and goals without the pressure of teamwork. So, it’s up to you whether you prefer to work with others or go it alone.

5. Winning the Game

In soccer, the aim is to score more goals than the other team by getting the ball into their goal. It takes teamwork, skill, and strategy to move the ball down the field and ultimately into the endzone. There are a few ways to score points, like running or passing the ball, kicking it, or even intercepting the other team’s pass.

In bicycle racing, instead of scoring points, the goal is to cover a certain distance or complete a race in the shortest amount of time. So, there’s no direct scoring system like in soccer, but rather a focus on achieving a specific goal. For example, you might aim to complete a 50-mile ride in under three hours or participate in a race with the goal of finishing in the top 10; it depends entirely on you.

The competitive aspect of cycling is more about personal achievement and improving one’s performance, rather than beating an opponent.

6. Possible Player Contact

When we compare contact in soccer and cycling, it’s like comparing two completely different things. In soccer, there’s a lot of physical contact between players as they try to gain control of the ball. They might bump into each other, tackle each other, or use their bodies to block their opponents.

However, there are rules in place to make sure that players don’t use too much force or hurt each other.

In cycling, there’s no physical contact at all. It’s just you, your bike, and the open road.

7. Impact of Weather Conditions

No matter what the weather’s like, soccer is pretty adaptable and can handle all sorts of different scenarios. You might have to switch up your game plan a little based on how windy or rainy it is, but the game can still go on, even when it’s snowy or icy outside. You might have to tweak the rules a bit and bundle up with some extra layers, though.

Cycling, on the other hand, is a bit more weather-dependent. Extreme weather conditions like strong winds or heavy rain can impact your ability to ride safely and effectively. If the winds are too strong, for example, it can be hard to stay balanced, and if it’s raining heavily, the roads can get super slippery and dangerous. When that happens, you might have to change their routes, postpone rides, or even cancel them altogether for safety reasons.

8. Risk of Injury

Soccer is a super fun sport, but in reality, there’s a lot of physical contact involved between players which can lead to injuries. Collisions can be intense and sometimes result in sprains, strains, or worse. Of course, there are rules to prevent the use of force, but injuries can still happen.

In contrast, cycling is generally considered to be a safer option since there’s no physical contact with other riders. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no risk involved. Cyclists can still take a tumble from their bikes or collide with obstacles like potholes or curbs.

These accidents can lead to scrapes and bruises, but some collisions can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

9. Level of Accessibility

With cycling, you can hop on your bike and explore pretty much anywhere – from your local park to the mountains. It’s a super affordable sport unless you are doing so competitively, professionally, or just want the very best bike for your needs. All you need is a bike and a helmet, and you’re good to go.

You can even find second-hand bikes that won’t break the bank if you are a casual user and if the bike is good enough.

Soccer, however, can be a bit more challenging to get into. You need a designated field or area to play, which may not be available in your local area. And let’s not forget about the costs! Soccer equipment like pads and cleats can be pricey, and if you want to join a league, there are likely additional costs attached to that.

10. Skills Needed for the Game

It is pretty well known that both soccer and cycling require some serious skills and technique. Cycling, for example, is more than just pedaling your bike hard – you also need to know how to handle your bike and adjust your body position to tackle different terrain. It takes time and practice to get good at, but once you do, it’s super rewarding both physically and mentally.

Soccer needs players to have a combo of physical attributes and technical skills. You need to be fast, agile, and have some killer hand-eye coordination. Knowing the rules and strategies of the game is important, too, as well as being able to work well with your teammates.

It takes a lot of practice and dedication to get good at passing, shooting, and goalkeeping, so don’t be afraid to put in the work!

soccer player doing skills

11. Expected Physical Demands

In essence, cycling and soccer require different types of physical fitness, and each has its set of challenges and benefits. While cycling is great for building endurance and improving your cardiovascular health, soccer is ideal for developing explosive power and agility. Additionally, cycling is a low-impact activity that is easy on the joints, making it a good option if you suffer from injuries or mobility issues.

On the other hand, soccer is more physically demanding and has a higher risk of injury, but it offers you a unique sense of adrenaline and excitement that can be difficult to match. Soccer is also an incredibly rewarding sport. The competitive nature of the game is a great motivator for players to push themselves to their physical limits and improve their skills.

Here is an image showing the differences between cycling and soccer:

Can Cycling Get You Fit for Soccer (Football)?

Yes, cycling is a great way to train for soccer. It builds the same muscles used in football with low impact on your joints and knees, making it perfect for footballers recovering from injury. It also increases your stamina and endurance, two attributes that are important in playing in a lengthy soccer match.

So what are you waiting for? Add cycling into your soccer training routine and see benefits that turn you into a maestro on the pitch!


Ultimately, whether you choose cycling or soccer, what matters most is that you enjoy playing and staying active. (Source)

Both sports have their unique benefits, from the physical challenge of cycling to the teamwork and strategy of soccer.

Let’s not forget about the sense of community that comes with being part of a team or group of cyclists. So, whether you’re a cycling enthusiast or a die-hard soccer fan, the important thing is to have fun, stay healthy, and enjoy the sport. At the end of the day, winning is just a bonus.