How to Improve Speed on a 40-Yard Dash

How to Improve Speed on a 40-Yard Dash
Running a faster 40-yard dash is key for athletes. You have a better chance of impressing coaches and scouts if you demonstrate outstanding sprinting ability. Of course, you will have to spend plenty of time working out in the months and weeks leading up to your speed trials. Increasing endurance and leg strength with plyometrics, weight training and running programs is crucial for gaining pace. Once you are physically fit, there are some minor adjustments to make aside from exercise to get the best possible results for your 40 time.


Difficulty: Challenging

Tips for Improved 40-yard Dash

Step 1
Work on perfecting your stance for the 40-yard dash. Get into the standard 3-point stance, crouched at the starting line. Put your dominant leg in front, just 4 inches or so back from the line. If you are right-handed then your left leg is usually the dominant one. The other leg should be positioned a foot or so back. Bend at the knees and get low to the ground. Your dominant hand should be placed with fingers extended on the starting line for balance. Keep your other arm tight to your body, bending at the elbow in preparation for the pumping motion you will perform with your arms as you run. Dig the balls of your feet into the ground once you are in your stance to improve traction for the initial push-off.
Step 2
Practice your form as you accelerate out of the stance and into your sprint. Stay low as you pick up speed. Your first three strides should be long and powerful, propelling your body from the starting line. Increase stride rate after the first 10 yards, pushing with the balls of your feet rather than your toes as you continue to run. You should be at top speed by the time you reach 20 to 25 yards. Lengthen your stride and continue to pump your arms in a natural motion.
Step 3
Lean forward throughout the entire 40-yard dash. You should not be fully upright at any point during the run. Take off running with your head and upper body forward in a leaning position. Picture yourself as a plane during takeoff. Your head is like the nose of the plane. It needs to accelerate straight ahead before eventually rising as speed increases. Gradually allow your body to come up from the low trajectory after the first 15 yards. But make sure to lean into the sprint all the way through the finish line for the best possible time.

Tips & Warnings

Determine where you should aim with your first step by sitting on the starting line with your back perpendicular to the line and your legs extended straight in front of you. Mark the point where your kneecaps are on the ground. This is where you should aim with your first stride.
Also keep your elbow joints at 90-degree angles as you run, leaving your hands open while you pump your arms as part of the natural running motion.
Always stretch adequately before running a 40-yard dash. Sprinting causes a great deal of stress on the muscles. You can easily pull a muscle and injure yourself if you do not warm up properly. Take at least 10 minutes to jog lightly and perform a full range of leg, torso and upper-body stretches to prepare for the sprint.

Article Written By David Thyberg

David Thyberg began his writing career in 2007. He is a professional writer, editor and translator. Thyberg has been published in various newspapers, websites and magazines. He enjoys writing about social issues, travel, music and sports. Thyberg holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College with a certificate in Spanish and Latin American studies.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.