Go straight to the end of the article for my opinionated video.
Deion Sanders is listed as the WR for the 40 yard dash with 4.17 on Wikipdia. But was it really the fastest 40 yard dash ever?
We think Usain Bolt has the fastest 40 yard based on his 10 meter splits. Maurice Green claims he’s the fastest (**SPOILER ALERT** Yes, there is some truth to this!)
I’ve been interviewed by several media outlets on this topic over the past 2 years, and I think it’s time to put the argument to rest.
Well, sort of. There are so many variables, and I discuss them in the video.
Here are the facts.
Differences in the 40 Yard Dash test
Football 40 yard dash test:
- old results hand timed
- start on first motion, reaction time is not counted
- timer is manually started
- finish is electronic (newer test)
- on AstroTurf with football cleats
Track 40 yard extrapolation:
- timer starts at gun
- Reaction Time is accounted, minimum 0.100, average 0.150 seconds
- on synthetic track, with track spikes
- WC sprinters accelerate until 60m, novices 30m
- Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay accelerate until 65-70m
Hand Time to Electronic Time Considerations
IAAF Official Hand time conversion
- add 0.14 when gun and finish line are the same (400m)
- add 0.24 when gun and finish line are the different (100, 200m)
Hand time conversion from 1973 research from University of Giessen
- timer and starter closest to gun (i.e. 400 meters) averaged a differential of 0.18 seconds
- timer and starter at end of the 100 meter straightaway averaged differential of 0.24 seconds
- timer and starter across the field of the 200 meter (~125m) curve averaged differential of 0.26 seconds
Therefore, I suggest at 36.6m away, add 0.20 sec to a hand time with the runner 40 yards away.
RT = Reaction Time
In the video, I made a slight “error” when I said the fastest 40 was Bolt with a 4.35 (with RT). But it’s actually Mo with a 4.33. When you subtract the RT, then Bolt wins, but it’s ever so close between Mo and Bolt with 4.19 and 4.20.
Here is the video on YouTube: