The 40-Yard Dash is an opportunity to show off your speed. On testing day before the start of football camp, you need to be ready to unleash your fastest 40 ever to impress your coach.
NFL prospects prepare for months to run the 40-Yard Dash at the NFL Combine. For high school athletes, it’s neither realistic nor practical to dedicate that much time to developing the 40—training for your sport is more important.
However, in the coming weeks you can and should prepare for the test so you can run at your full potential. We spoke to Brandon McGill, sports performance director for STACK Velocity Sports Performance, to learn how to train for the 40-Yard Dash before the start 0f two-a-days. Two approaches, depending on whether you trained hard or slacked off this summer.
You Trained Hard
If you trained hard, you’re in a great position to impress your coach with your speed in the 40. You might be excited and want to get out on the field and practice your 40, but now is the time to take it easy. The last thing you want to do is run too many 40s and tear a hamstring.
Instead, McGill advises tapering your program, gradually training less and giving yourself more time to recover. Swap high-intensity speed work for drills such as 20-Yard Sprints and Flying Starts no more than twice per week. Also, practice your starting technique. The more reps you can do, the more comfortable you’ll be on testing day.
Most important, you need to get into the right mindset for testing. McGill says, “You have one opportunity to do the 40, and you need to prepare for the event to get the results you want.”
To get your mind right, McGill suggests perfecting your routine leading up to the 40-Yard Dash. This includes practicing and perfecting your dynamic warm-up, how you approach the line and getting into your three-point stance. He says, “You have to focus on getting your routine down so it’s the same every time. You want to minimize the unknown.”
You Slacked Off
Maybe you didn’t work as hard as you should have this summer, and now you’re scrambling. First, learn from the experience for next year. Second, you have two weeks to work, so make the best of your time to maximize your results.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the 40, there’s not much you can do to increase your performance in such a short time. Plus, cramming a summer’s worth of work into two weeks can be downright dangerous. McGill says, “If you’ve done nothing and you have a test coming up, don’t go start running 40s. I can’t visualize a situation where an athlete would get hurt [doing that].”
Instead, focus on improving your starting technique, because that’s where most mistakes are made during the 40. It’s impossible to perfect your technique in such a short time, but even a small improvement can help you improve your speed.
And just like the athletes who trained all summer, you need to get into the testing mindset by practicing your routine leading up to the 40. “Even something like going out onto the field where you’ll be tested beforehand and set up for a 40, that’s going to be super helpful,” adds McGill.
Improving Your 40-Yard Dash Start
To perfect your start, use these tips from STACK’s Speed Kills workout program, which can give you game-breaking speed in just 60 minutes per day.
Starting Position: 3-Point Stance
The 3-point stance is designed to help you run your absolute fastest. Here are seven ways to dial in your stance for top speed.
RELATED: 40-Yard Dash Tips From the Pros