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Tips to Improve Your 40-Yard Dash Start

March 31, 2013 | Raymond Tucker

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The 40-Yard Dash is a critical test of speed, which is why it's performed at the NFL Combine. Yes, the top speed part of the test is flashy and exciting. But what sets the stage for a successful run is the start. (Avoid these 40-Yard Dash mistakes.)

A strong 40-Yard Dash start allows you to accelerate as fast as possible to reach your top speed. The goal is to maximize the amount of force you put into the ground, so you can drive out of your starting stance. If you have poor technique, you will waste valuable time and energy and fail to reach your top speed.

To lower your 40 time, I recommend these starting tips.

  1. Determine your strong leg by taking a few steps, then jumping. The leg you jumped with is your strong leg, which should be your forward leg during the 40.
  2. Place your strong leg six inches from the starting line. Kneel down and line up your opposite knee with the heel of your strong foot. Your knee should be at least six inches away from your strong heel.
  3. Take your weak-side hand and place it on the starting line.
  4. From a kneeling position, lift your hips to get into your starting position. Your front knee should be at about 90 degrees and your back knee should be at about 120 degrees.
  5. Your forward arm should be locked with your elbow pointed downfield and your weight resting on your thumb and fingertips.
  6. Shift your weight forward, so it feels as if you are about to fall forward. Make sure that your back is straight and that you are not hunched over.
  7. Align your head with your spine and look down.

Practice getting into this position until you feel comfortable with it. Nest, follow these tips to achieve an explosive acceleration. (Watch the 40-Yard Dash in action.)

  1. When you raise your body, take a deep breath and hold.
  2. Explode out of the start, pushing with both feet.
  3. Get a good extension out of the hip, knee and ankle.
  4. Drive your knees up during each stride.
  5. Do not bring the rear leg to your butt when starting. Keep your foot close to the ground, and remember to push back into the ground during the acceleration phase.
  6. Pump your arms as fast you can.
  7. Maintain a 45-degree body angle when accelerating.
Topics: 40-YARD DASH
Raymond Tucker
- Raymond Tucker, CSCS, a Level 1 Track Coach certified by the United States Track and Field Association and Level 1 FMS certified by Functional Movement...
Raymond Tucker
- Raymond Tucker, CSCS, a Level 1 Track Coach certified by the United States Track and Field Association and Level 1 FMS certified by Functional Movement...
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Refine Your 40-Yard Dash Start Technique