Four tips to improve your 40-yard dash time - NFL Combine - Style | Youth1

Four tips to improve your 40-yard dash time - NFL Combine - Style

It's NFL Combine week and a perfect time to talk about speed! If there is one element to an athlete’s game that can set them apart, it is speed. Some say it’s something you can’t coach and some beg to differ. Either way, there are drills that every athlete can do to take their speed to the next level.

There is no better feeling than being able to break away from your opponent. Some of you have probably already experienced that.

If you start working on decreasing your 40-yard dash time now, there is no telling where you might be in the long run.

During the 2017 NFL Combine, University of Washington wide receiver John Ross boasted a 4.22 in the 40-yard dash test, boosting his draft sock. Ross surprised many in the audience and the former Husky was drafted in the first round as the ninth pick by the Cincinnati Bengals. His speed had a lot to do with that and it’s pretty safe to say he didn’t just show up and amaze the scouts without many years of practice. While there were a ton of other players that NFL scouts had their eyes on, all eyes were on Ross after his incredible performance. His time at the combine also earned him a bigger contract.

No matter where you’re at in your game, there’s always room for improvement and if you want to make yourself a threat to your opponent work on your speed because speed kills. Here are a few tips to help you get started.


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The angle is which your legs are placed makes a huge difference. Much like a track runner, a proper stance at the start line is key if you want to get off with a quick burst. Take your time when you get to the line. Do not feel rushed. It is extremely important that you are comfortable with your stance before you get going and finding a proper stance that makes you feel confident is significant as well.

When getting situated at the starting point, you should have your quick leg in the back and your power leg in the front. Use your power leg to drive you and use your quick leg to get up to speed. Be sure there is a proper amount of spacing between the two. The placement of your legs is extremely crucial because how quickly you explode from the starting point will determine how strong you finish. suggests using a process called bounding in which you propel yourself forward off of each leg within a certain amount of time. For a 40 yard dash, doing this three times while obtaining 8 yards is the goal.

When it comes to your shoulders, avoid leaning at the line as it could cause you to fall when you take off. Make sure that your body is nice and controlled and that you are calm throughout the process. Even the smallest amount of nervousness can have a negative impact on your performance.

When it comes to the alignment of your head, that should be up to you but the most important thing to remember is that your head should be aligned with your spine, according to Some players are more comfortable looking up so they can see where they’re going but others like to put their head down because it gives them a chance to close their eyes and meditate for a few more seconds.


When it comes to hand placement, be sure to have your thumbs directly under your shoulder. Notice in track and field athletes spend a good portion of their time at the starting line getting their hand placement in order. If you watch closely, you’ll notice that most track and field runners have their hands directly beneath their shoulders. This is pivotal as it will increase the amount of distance from your shoulders to the pavement. The more space you have to move when the timer starts the better. Make sure that your hand is not made contact with the ground. Also be sure that your quickest hand is left down by your side as it will accompany a quick leg in your get off.


Although this may seem like common sense, having the mental capacity to get through this type of rigorous training is paramount to your success. Patience is key as well. Do not expect to have overnight success. It may be helpful to tell a friend about your goal to garner support. Remember surrounding yourself with positive people can only produce positive results.

If this was something that could be done overnight, everyone would be doing it. Remember, it takes a very composed individual to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so working slowly towards the goal will not only be beneficial in the long run, but will also minimize injury and increase the mental toughness needed to reach your goal. Time is a trainer, teaching the mind to adapt.

You should perform your training when it benefits you the most. If you’re a morning person, you can hit the field as soon as the sun rises but if you feel like you’ll be able to train better in the evening, go for it.


One of the first things that you should focus on our your first three steps. Don’t strive to take really big steps. In fact, you should focus on picking up speed through out the dash versus trying to pick up as much ground as possible in the beginning. Because your form is imperative, that should be the focus within your first initial steps.

Now that you have a few more drills to help increase your 40-yard dash time, now’s the time to get started. Be sure to train with a professional as some of the techniques listed maybe new to you. Should you go at it alone, you increase the risk of injury.

It may be not be football season, but if you get started now, you’ll see a decrease in your time which would translate to a more dominant player on the field next season. 

See how youth athletes measure up on Youth1! Go to the Y1ACT Leaderboard and see who's ranking highest today!

Where to get tested to see where you're at? Register for one of our Y1ACT events, powered by Zybek Sports (Yes, the same group that conducts the tests at the NFL Combine!) and see what your 40 yard baseline is along with other key metrics to measure your athleticism!  Register at one of the upcoming Y1ACT events:


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