How Can I Shave a Second Off My 40 Yard Dash?

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The 40-yard dash is one of the key measurements that coaches use when evaluating football players. The ability to explode out of a three-point stance and build speed quickly is crucial at every position on the field. If you're already under 5 seconds for your 40 time, these tips won't help you take a full second -- getting under 4 has never happened. However, if your time is higher than 5 or 6 seconds, these mechanical tips may help you reach your best speed.

  • Figure out which leg is your "quick" leg and which is your "strong" leg. Fold your arms. Which hand is tucked down under your armpit after going over your other arm? If it's your right hand, then your left leg is the "quick" one. Put your "quick" leg behind you when you get into your three-point stance.

  • Position your head so that your spine and neck are aligned. This means that you'll be looking straight ahead. If you look down, you will tend to push your center of gravity too far forward, which will slow your hips down when you start to run.

  • Touch the ground with your fingers, keeping the rest of the hand up and off. This will also keep you from pushing too far forward when you start. Your hands should be about the same distance apart as your shoulders.

  • Think about your first movement instead of thinking about hearing the whistle or gun that will tell you to start. If you're already focused on your first movement, you can shave as much as a tenth of a second off your time, according to Complete 40 Training.

  • Push your hips up an inch or two above your shoulders. If you push them even higher, you'll have too much weight forward, but if your hips are lower, you'll have too much weight in the back. This alignment will give you the best balance.

  • Stay loose once you burst off the line, but continue to push your arms up and back at full strength. Don't cross your arms in front of you as you sprint. Your elbows should stay at least at a right angle -- you can let your arms hang lower, but if you pull them up tighter, that will tense your whole body. Don't squeeze your fists while you're running. Imagine you're carrying popcorn that you don't want to crush or spill. Tension slows you down -- and you don't want to slow down.

  • Move from horizontal to vertical as you run -- but do it slowly. You shouldn't be standing straight up until the last 10 yards, but your lean should be lessening with each stride. If you can do this naturally and keep from tensing up, this will help you go as fast as you can.

  • Remember to push through the line as though you're running a 50-yard dash. If you tell yourself you're only running 40 yards, you may instinctively slow down, costing yourself fractions of a second. You should still be at maximum speed when you cross the finish line.

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