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Speed Boost: Three Keys to Improving Your 40-Yard Dash Time

The 40-yard dash is the most widely utilized measurement of explosive speed in football. Many players get by on quickness and instincts, but speed is the indisputable separating trait for skill players. It can be the difference between playing football at the next level and not making the team. Coaches and scouts will reference your 40 time throughout your playing career, so you should be giving concerted effort to lower it.

There are many exercises you can incorporate to improve your explosiveness, but it will take more than just strength to lower your time. The following three aspects of the drill may seem obvious, but they can be practiced and mastered. Get your technique nailed down so that you can efficiently apply your training to the 40-yard dash.

Master running technique to lower 40-yard dash time

Stance

It is the most commonly overlooked aspect of running, yet it is one of the most important. The initial push is where runners make or break their time, and it all comes down to the starting stance. Start with your strongest leg forward, as this is the leg you will push off with. To find out which of your legs is strongest, test your vertical leap on each leg—the one you jump highest off of should be your lead leg in running. Put that foot as close to the line as you can get it. The distance from the toe of your back foot to the heel of your leading foot should mirror the length of your fingertip to your elbow. If being a bit wider is notably more comfortable to you, then stretch it out a bit, but not too far.

Whether you want to be in a 2, 3, or 4-point stance is completely up to you. All that matters is that you start in a low athletic position that promotes an explosive forward movement. If you do elect to use a 3 or 4-point stance, it’s key that you do not put too much weight on your hands. Your knuckle should not be white. Finally, NO part of your body can be across the starting line, or your run could be disqualified.

The sprint

Your first couple steps should be short and choppy to help gain momentum. As you pick up speed they should get bigger and longer. By the end, you will be in full stride. The number one thing people tend to forget when they sprint is the importance of their arms. You should be pumping your arms just as hard as your legs. It will incorporate your core and give you additional explosiveness, helping you shave even more time.

The finish

After perfecting your stance and sprinting technique, finishing strong is the final component to lowering your time. Run full speed through and beyond the finish line. Many athletes try to give a final lunge at the end of their run, and you can see them stick their chest out towards the finish line. By leaning in at the very last second, they may shave a fraction of a second, but they may also lose their balance. You often see the lowest time come from an athlete who runs through the finish line like it’s not even there. Keep your focus on form and explosive strides rather than theatrics to save that extra hundredth of a second.


sprinting time

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