“Speed is a skill. It can be taught like any other skill,” writes Loren Seagrave in his paper Systematic Approach to Teaching and Training the 40-Yard Dash. Seagrave would know. As the director of speed and movement at the IMG Performance Institute in Bradenton, Fla., it’s his job to make people faster. He’s widely regarded as one of the smartest minds in sprint mechanics and performance, and his clients includes NFL first-round draft picks and Olympic medalists, among them 1996 Gold medal winner Donovan Bailey.
For STACK’s article on how draft prospects run so fast at the NFL Combine, we spoke with Seagrave and several other top speed coaches nationwide, including Lance Walker of Michael Johnson Performance Center and Kurt Hester of TD1 Challenge. They offered several form tips that athletes need to follow to run their fastest in the 40-Yard Dash—divided into the four phases of the sprint: start, acceleration, transition and top speed. Here’s what you need to keep in mind during each phase to run your best.