Last Updated on April 22, 2014 by Amir Rehman
Football season is around the corner, so it’s time for yet another 40 yard dash post.
You just can’t get away from the 40 yard dash “trash talk” when coaches and athletes float inaccurate numbers from a 40 yard dash time.
The 40 yard dash was an arbitrary number, just like the 72 ounce steak “eat in 1 hour and it’s free” in Amarillo Texas on Route 66. Someone chose 40 yards as the distance a football player needs to run, just like 72 ounces (4.5 pounds or over 2 kilograms!) of steak as simply a very large amount of steak eaten by one human in one sitting.
Comparing a 40 yard dash and a 100 meter sprint is a moot point, but it’s fun to dissect and analyze.
Don’t you hate it when you look at the splits, subtract their reaction time, and calculate Ben Johnson only ran 4.37 and Usain Bolt ran 4.35? (see chart below) These sprinters (among others) are the fastest men in the world in their era, and yet we hear football players with much faster times?
Nothing against Football players, but they don’t train for the 100 meters like true 100 meter sprinters. Ego aside, how can a football player have a faster time than a sprinter?
Then again, the WR for the standing long jump is held by a shot putter, and not a long jumper!
Why Split Times are Bogus?
In the 100m, you accelerate as long as possible to reach top speed, then maintain top speed. You want to cover the distance in the shortest possible time.
The 40 yard dash is similar: your goal is to get to the 40 yard line as fast as possible from a motionless position. You have to overcome inertia, then reach top speed as fast as possible.
The “problem” is World class sprinters take longer to reach top speed because they have a longer acceleration phase. (In reality, the “problem” is a nice thing to have, right?)
Novice 100m runners and female sprinters will reach their top speed sooner, so more of their race will be speed endurance (NOTE to Coaches – worry less about their reaction time and starting blocks, and focus on acceleration and speed endurance. Why work on improving 0.10 seconds when you can improve 1.0 seconds?)
It’s really unfair to use their actual 100 meter race splits and extrapolate their 40 yard dash time AS THEIR TRUE POTENTIAL. Why? Because the extrapolated 40 yard dash time is merely an extrapolation or “split en route” to a 100 meters.
Breakdown of a 100 meter sprint
Everyone is familiar with the different phases of a 100 meter sprint: reaction time, acceleration, transition, maintenance.
Based on the real splits, especially the 30-40m split where the 40 yard lies, they have yet to reach their top end speed.
But what would happen if they “trained seriously” for the event and reached their top speed earlier?
What if Ben Johnson or Usain Bolt trained to run the 40 yard dash (or 36.6 meter dash) as if it was a real event? Some Most football players treat the 40 yard dash as if it were a real event. A good or bad 40 yard dash time can make or break a football combine.
And finally, what if you subtracted 0.24 from their FAT time to downward convert it to a hand time?
We are looking at 3.9 to 4.0 hand time performances!
[Tweet “Usain Bolt and Ben Johnson : 40 Yard Dash Times”]
WHO’S FASTER? Deion Sanders or Bolt?
Below is a video comparing who is really faster, Deion Sanders 4.17 or Usain Bolt.
Fantasy League 40 Yard Dash time
In my example, we are ASSUMING world class sprinters can reach top speed at 30m, and not between 50-60 meter mark.
Thus, to calculate a true 40 yard dash potential:
- reaction time is not considered
- the 0-10m segment is the same as the 100 meters (Phase 1)
- the 10-20m segment is an average speed of the 10-30m segment in a 100m (Phase 2)
- the 20-30m segment is an average speed of the 30-50m segment in a 100m (Phase 3)
- the last 6 meter segment is a pro-rated speed of their top end speed (50-60m) in a 100m (Phase 4)
You can mix and match the distances and phases around to add up to 40 yards. The chart is a fun illustration for discussion purposes. If the 4 phases are equal, then I would calculate using 9.15m splits to equal 36.6 meters.