40 Yard Dash

40 yard dash. What does it mean?  How can I help my athletes improve their time?  We answer these questions and many more!

40 yard Dash

The 40 yard dash is a short sprint. The 40 is used by football at all levels to measure sprint speed. Many other sports also utilize the 40 yard dash so that it is comparable between sports. Baseball utilizes the 60 yard most often but I have found for younger athletes 13 and under a 40 is a better time to work with.  

How can I help my athlete improve?

To improve the 40 yard dash time you would want your athletes relative strength to improve. Relative strength is increasing the athlete’s strength without an increase in body weight. For athletes that are also trying to gain weight this becomes a bigger challenge. If you can increase the athletes’ force production you can make them run faster.  

At OC Sports Performance we use weighted jumps and box squats to improve that ratio. This isn’t the only way but it is a way that is successful. We can on average take a .1 (one tenth off) every month if the athlete trains at least 12x during the month. Our best to date reduction is 4.89 to 4.48 in 2 months! A reduction of .41 or double the rate of the typical.  

What is considered an Elite High School 40 Yard Dash Time? 

For male athletes an elite time is under 4.60. For female athletes a time under 5.20 is considered elite.  

Laser Timing vs. Hand Timing

Hand times are not accurate. Period. End of discussion. If you think about it: the time it takes for a human to see something and then have a signal sent from their brain to their fingers telling them to hit a button or stop a button. In my experience a hand time is 2/10ths to 4/10ths fast.  

Laser timing is accurate because the athlete’s time doesn’t start until the athlete moves and the time is stopped when the athlete crosses the last gate. Producing a super accurate time. When paired with gates we have times for an athlete at 10 yards, 20 yards, 30 yards and 40 yards.  

Myths and Wasting Time

The common myths that we hear concerning 40 yard dash time improvement: 

  • Coach the athlete on running in a straight line. The athlete’s time will not change a lot in 40 yards even if they don’t run in a straight line.  
  • Teach the athlete how to run. Yes running technique is great but without the prerequisites all of the technique work in the world will not make them faster. Basically you are wasting time if you are doing these technique drills and not working on building strength.  
  • Work on the athlete’s start. If I had an elite athlete wanting to improve their time I would spend more time working on their starting technique. But the simplest, easiest way to improve times is getting the athletes relative strength to increase and thus decreasing their times. 
  • Run the athletes more to improve their times. We run our athletes 3x each month -once a week, 3 sprints that is it! But like I stated earlier we can average a 1/10th off every month if they train 12+ times a month.  We hate wasting our athletes time and exposing them to overuse injuries by running them more than they already do playing their sports.  

Does a fast 40 yard dash time make a good (Insert Sport Here) Player?

Having a fast 40 yard dash doesn’t mean you can play in the NFL or MLB or MLS.  What a fast time does do is get you past the first hurdle when trying to make a team or get recruited. Without superior metrics that stand out it is going to be difficult to get recruited because the scout or coach won’t give the player a chance.  I am not saying this is the correct way to recruit but this is the reality.  

Does 40 yard dash relate to Throwing Velocity 

No.  In my experience it doesn’t correlate.  What seems to improve throwing velocity is increasing standing vertical jump and broad jump.  These are both metrics that we keep monthly at OC Sports Performance and we see a huge correlation between increases and throwing velocity.  

Can an athlete decrease their 40 yard time but get slower in the 100 or 200m Dash? 

Yes!  I have seen this happen and I know other strength coaches who have witnessed this with their athletes.  If the 40 yard is the most important for the athlete then running track might not be the best training stimulus.  Especially if the track practices have a ton of volume on longer durations.  

Can you tell what a 60 yard time will be using a 40 yard time? 

Yes, or pretty close.  Usually within a 1/10th of a second.  Which for younger athletes seems to be close enough.  The same is true for using the 20 yard to project the 40 yard times.  Usually, the projection is within a 1/10th of a second.  Can you use a 20 yard to project a 60 yard, nope.  Not enough run time.  It is just not as accurate as it would need to be.  

If you have questions about improving your athletes 40 yard dash time send me an email

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OC Sports Performance is Central Oregons premier sports performance gym OC is located in Bend, Oregon. We are a metrics based and results driven training facility. As a result, we get results!

Interested in reading more about sprinting? Check out these article: HOW TO MAKE SOMEONE FASTER IN A SPRINT, Do Speed ladders work? , Speed Training in Bend, Oregon

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