Basics of Running a 40 yard
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him ... but let him ask in faith, with no doubting"  James 1:5Coach Z is not responsible for mental, physical or monetary damages due to information or links within this site.  Being involved in the sport of football and following dreams is a choice with risks.
Basics of Running a 40

This article is on how to improve your 40 and at the same time I hope you incorporate core workouts into your regimen.  For some I am sorry to announce  ...  football is not based on your chest muscles and arm size.  Rather the ability to change direction in a split second and drive through an opponent.

When a player's 40 yard time is evaluated my personal stand is there is little difference between a player running a 4.3 and another who runs a 4.5.  Yes, you need to have speed to play professional ball but basing a player's ability on the small margin mentioned above can (and has in the past) eliminate the wrong candidate.  Now running a 5.2 and another running a 4.3 is justification for eliminating the slower time (positions equal).  But when it comes to a hundredth of a second further looks need to be taken.  So to assist you , the player, in obtaining a 40 good enough to be recognized is the reason for this article.  Since 1997 the amount of combines I worked always contained players who had either never run a 40 or those who needed small adjustments to make the cut.  Unfortunately it is close to impossible to help each attendee at a combine.  Not only that but the last thing I want to do is try to change someone prior to what could be one of the most important moments to him.  Walking up to a player and saying 'Your stance is wrong, you're coming up too early, and the breathing is all off' is not going to help during the stress of a combine the player is dealing with.  So take the information below and use it to either lower your time or understand how to run a 40.

How to start

The start allows you to accelerate out of the stance and reach top speed as soon as possible.  The positioning of the body at the start must be mechanically correct.  The start is the most important factor to clocking a fast time.

First, is the placement of the hand.  With your thumb and index finger use as much of that painted line as possible.  The idea is that you don't want to give any time to the timer.  You want to start eating away at the 40 yards right off the first movement, so you want to gain as much ground as possible.

The opposite arm should be bent at an angle slightly more than 45 degrees. Often athletes will keep this drive arm straight, not allowing optimal explosion and mechanics.  Also when drive arm is straight it avoids losing valuable time from the timers starting on first movement.

When you put it all together the stance may not be most comfortable but it is correct and is something you should practice.  Make sure that the feet and arm placement is no wider than shoulder width apart.

When you begin the down hand fires off the ground (think of ripping the root of grass explosively out of the ground) pulling the elbow back while the drive arm fires forward in front of the face to propel the body forward.  At that point the drive leg and arm put the body into acceleration.  Power exerted from the start will transmit the athlete's body to its highest state of acceleration.  An explosive push from both legs is vital for the start.  During the start, the rear leg may seem to have more power and explosion but it is the plant leg that is the axis that is exerting force on the ground for a longer period of time.

The first step

The length of your first step out of the start is critical to the stride length for the duration of the run.  The proper length of the first stride can be determined by lying on the ground with your back even with the start line.  When sitting with a flat back and legs straight, mark off the line of the patella (knee cap).  It is this line that should be the length of the first stride out of the start position.

Important facts and reminders

The first ten yards should be explosive.  Good forward body lean should be visible, with the eyes looking down.

From the 10 yard mark through 30 yards your body should have a slight forward body lean.  Once top speed is achieved stay relaxed and power through the last ten yards to the finish.

Your breathing should be organized and controlled.  Research from the soviets suggested that if an athlete holds his breath from the start through acceleration phases (0-20 yards), the athlete will witness increased blood pressure, which through their research has shown to increase motor unit recruitment.  By holding your breath, greater force is applied by the increased intra abdominal pressure.  For the best breathing pattern, hold your breath for the first 10 yards, exhale for the next 10 yards, inhale deeply for the next 10 yards, then exhale through the finish.

The arm action is just as important as the leg action.  With a nice 90 angle at the elbow joint, move arms toward finish line and keep the elbows in.  Arm swing is a source of power.  Your hands should stay relaxed and open.  Making a fist with the hands tightens the arms and shoulders reducing range of motion.

Always run at least 5 yards past the finish line.  So many see the end and begin to slow prior to the finish and ruin a good 40 by slowing down before it's completed.