T Nation

Tips On Running The 40?


I've gotta run my 40 for football on friday, any tips you guys can give me, like starting stance, just things of that nature?


Hopefully this picture of what you want to look like off the line comes through

Start is everything damn near... the other stuff you NEED but if you don't have a good start you can look slower than you really are. End up with a 4.8 instead of a 4.5, etc.

This is how I believe it works... I could be wrong...

if you're right handed (stronger side of body):

right toe directly behind the line.
left toe staggered behind your right heel...

kneel down and put your left hand parallel to your right foot

Most of your weight should be on your hand and the right ball of your foot.

Right hand, stretched waaaay back.

RIP that right hand forward, explode off the right ball of your foot and jerk that left arm backwards, while bringing that left knee damn near to your chest.

It's only forty yards so there's no reason to stand up or hold stride or any of that other shit... just get to top speed as fast as you can and try to push past even that.

ARM SWING is vital. Keep your shoulders square and pull your elbows BACK don't let your elbows come out too much past your body.

---for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Try this, Jerk your arm (in a running motion) forward as fast as possible...it will make you lean backwards and that is what you do NOT want to do.

Jerking your arm (think elbows really) backwards puts you at a proper forward angle.

Allow your stride to open up naturally that will only come with practice.

Weight Training::

Because its a shorter distance your strength is the overcoming factor in the speed that you can and will attain.
How you train these I will leave up to you but I particularly like training with a conjugate mindset. Mind you EVERYTHING needs to be strong, but these tend to have the most importance.

Posterior Chain- This will determine your top speed. (Snatch grip deadlifts on box, rack pulls with toe on weighted plates, cleans, box squats, jerks)

Quadriceps (most notably vmos)- will determine how quick you are off the line (Bulgarian squat, deadstop front squat, lunges, stepups, jerks)

Abdomen- Will keep your spine neutral and from looking like a flopping fish.
(Dragon flags, hanging pikes, weighted situps with weight behind your head, rotational stuff)

Traps/Rear delts- Arm swing baby!
(rack pulls, power cleans, rear delt flyes, dumbbell shrugs, chest supported rows, jerks)

Hope I helped.


With the foot thats forward get someone to push you from behind when you are standing still. Which ever foot you stick out first to catch your balance is your forward foot.


Run real fast for 40 yards.


Get a good start. Relax as you run and time the lean properly.


Oh, and a little tip for the start: put your elbow at 90 degrees with your left hand in your hip pocket basically, most hand timers start on first movement, you want it to be your body, not your hand.


very good point


This is one heck of a great post!

Follow this advice and you will do great.


Timers are supposed to start the watch as soon as your down hand comes off the ground. But, realistically, they start it when your down hand moves at all. A lot of players don't put enough weight on their ground hand so their first movement when they start to come forward is for their ground hand to sink down(that's when most timers start the clock).

Like Xen said, put your weight on the ball of your front foot and down hand and then rip that arm back on your first movement. Get your front foot and arm right up on the line and your butt up in the air. Getting your butt up in the air is pretty crucial IMO. If you start out of a lineman-type 3 point stance, it'll kill your 40. Toy around with where you put back foot and see where you're most comfortable and where you get the most explosion.


Training this summer to drop my 40 time I was taught that a lot of athletes don't breathe right during the 40. I was taught to take only two breaths during the 40m, one before the start, hold until 15-20m, and then expel the air and inhale powerfully at this point and hold it until the end. You may want to do some research into this online as I don't remember exactly how it worked. A few guys I trained with dropped their 40 times .1s after just learning to breathe better during the dash.


Great post Zen. That needs to be archived somewhere.


Remember to push off with both R&L feet at the same time. Do not try to start using only your dominant (forward) leg. You will spring off the line harder/more explosively using both limbs. Also, get as much of your upper body over the line as possible and keep the head looking 5-10 feet in front of you in the first 10 yds. Do not look out to the 40yd line... it'll slow you down. Maintain that forward lean.


The tips on the start and the breathing technique are great. Although a couple of posts give the impression that you should maintain a forward lean for the entire 40 yards.

Sprinting can be broken into two distinct categories or qualities, the ability to accelerate and the ability to run at and maintain your maximum velocity. They are differentiated by unique postural characteristics, lower limb positions during each stride, and the placement of where the foot lands and force is applied on each stride.

In short you will probably maintain a natural forward lean over your first 8-12 strides (the distance will depend on your height, strength and in turn your speed). After this initial period of acceleration maintain an upright or tall posture, relax the shoulders and drive a bent elbow through a full range of motion with the palms open.

good luck


It's a little late if you are running Friday, but Coach DeFranco has (had) a video that gives tips and techniques for the conventional combine drills...the 40yd dash being one of them.

Xen parallelled most of what the video says. My only advice is practice that start. Practice it again. Practice with someone else and give him a headstart so you have to catch him in those first 15 meters.

Maybe you can contact defrano for an article???


That sounds like a fun idea, will definitely help you learn to accelerate through.

Another point to consider is that if your stride length is long enough and you bound powerfully enough you should finish your forty in like 18-22 steps.

Video tape your run, count your steps, increase you flexibility and strength and you should be like the taco bell commercial: "Good to go..."


Damn you guys are awesome.


To emphasize this a little more, the laser timers that are now used have a button that you hold down. When your hand comes off the ground it starts and when you break the laser it stops. Keep you hand down and fall forward for as long as possible before you explode out of you stance.


What level football is this? When we ran our 40's back in HS we didn't have starting blocks so I remember having better results standing opposed to a 4 point stance as with blocks.

Are you running on grass or on the track? Grass, obviously you'll be wearing your football cleats. If you're running on a track make sure you get yourself some track spikes, they're VERY light and the added grip will help immensely!

Just make sure you practice your start over and over again. Run a lot of 10 and 20 meter sprints to dial in your get off.

Lack of flexibility was my biggest problem. My stride length was horrible even at 6'5.


Since its Friday I guess this is a little late but in case you ever run another 40 here's my 2 cents:

  1. you will make more improvements over 40 yds by practicing the first 10 yards. you should cover the first 10 yds in 5-7 steps. a lot of guys think quick turnover is key but actually the opposite is true. drive out hard and cover as much ground as possible. don't try to reach forward when driving out though, that will just cause a breaking action. it just takes practice.

  2. everyone else covered the start pretty well but i will throw in some stuff that helped me too. keep your feet about hip width apart when starting, if you are too narrow your balance is compromised and you lose stability. if you are too wide you lose power. think of the width you would keep your feet when performing a vert. jump. depending on height, you should try to keep a heel-toe relationship between your feet.

this allows you to utilize power from both feet on your first step rather than driving off the front foot only. a really easy way to determine your front foot in the stance is to use whatever leg you jump off of best. most right handers use there left foot.

  1. here's another little tip courtesy of Joe D...after you have set your feet, instead of just bending down and putting your hand on the line, place both hands a foot or so in front of the starting line and balance your weight over all 4 points of contact as best as you can. then, bring your down hand (right hand if left leg is forward) to line the line. from here all you do is bring the left arm back at a 90 degree angle to your hip and you'll be ready.

you will need to practice this because you won't be able to hold this position very long without falling over. it will allow you to get as much of your body over the line as possible and give you an advantage on your first step distance. Keep your eyes about 3 feet down the track to focus on where you want that first step to land with your neck and face relaxed.

  1. Just practice the set up and sprints out to 10 yds for awhile and gradually increase the distance until you run full 40's. remember you aren't conditioning and don't exceed 300yds total volume in any session.

just a side note, you are a football player and not a 40yd dasher so don't get consumed in practicing this stuff all year. i would train for speed/agility specific to your position and start practicing the 40 a couple weeks before camp or whenever testing comes around.

a 4.5 guy who has bad technique and doesn't understand his responsibilities will play slower than a 4.8 kid with good technique and understanding of schemes and responsibilities. Kelly Baggett said once that in football there are only 2 speeds...fast enough and too slow. good luck


racing to catch someone may be fun but it could also cause you to tense up and lock your hips up. which is bad for speed. Your fastest runs will always feel like your easiest runs. So relax. Just something to be aware of