5 Tips to Improve Your 40 Yard Dash NOW!!
By: Chad Wilson – Gridironstuds.com Blog
So you have to run a 40 yard dash in less than a week and you’re not sure that you are ready to run a fast time. You don’t have eight to 12 weeks to go through the weight lifting, plyometrics and sprint program that involves the parachutes, weighted vests, towing equipment, sled and everything else designed for to make you run that unbelievable 40 yard dash.
Have no fear. Here are 5 tips you can use to run a faster 40 yard dash right now. Caution, this works best for those with little sprint experience. If you aren’t doing the things outlined below then you stand to drop a significant amount of time off of your 40 yard dash immediately.
#1: Fix Your Stance at the Start:
If you aren’t putting your front foot as close to the line as possible then do it now. Put that foot behind the line with space and you are running more than 40 yards. It’s that simple. Get in your three point stance and put your dominant leg at the line (note: if running on grass, twist that front foot from side to side so that you get a firm grip on the grass. You need to be able to push off of that foot without slipping). If you are right handed then your left leg is probably your dominant leg to push off on. That’s the foot that should be on the line, with your right hand right on the line as well. Get comfortable and do not stick your rear end above your head in your stance. Keep your back flat so that you will have some power at the start. This will also prevent you from popping straight up when you begin your run.
#2. Drive Out Low
Easily said and you hear it all the time. So why am I say it yet again? Because many guys don’t do it. The problem for most guys is that they think they are coming out low but they are not. Here are a few ways you can ensure that you stay low. First while you are in your stance waiting to start, pick out a point on the ground ahead of you. That point is where your back foot will land when you take off. When you start, you are going to keep your eyes on that spot until your back foot hits that spot. Make sure you pick out a spot that is far enough away from the line that you will take a long enough first step. After that foot lands, you would need to keep your head down for at least the first 20 yards (preferably the first 30) of your 40 yard sprint. Bringing your head up will most often bring your body up. Keeping your head down will keep your body down. IMPORTANT: your head down does not mean straight down to where you are looking at your feet. You should have your head down but you are looking about 2 to 3 yards out in front of you.
The nose of a bullet does not go straight up when it exits the barrel of a gun. It goes straight ahead and cuts through the air. Likewise, you must come out low to overcome gravity and cut through the aero-dynamic forces acting against you.
#3. First Three Strides Should Be Long
Many people equate foot turnover with speed. In other words, they think the quicker their stride the faster they run. This may be true but when your answer to achieve quicker strides mean taking shorter ones, you are killing yourself in a sprint. Your stride rate (i.e. turnover) has a lot to do with your genetics. However, your stride length is something you have better control over. You need efficient stride length in the 40 yard dash. To achieve that, you need to focus on a healthy stride length for those first three strides. This sets the pace and length of your strides for the rest of the run. Take strides that are too short in the beginning and you are stuck with that for the rest of the race and your time will be a disappointment. BE CAREFUL not to over-stride. I want you to reach out there and get a good stride but don’t take a stride that is so long that you lose power. You lose power in a sprint when your foot lands too far out in front of your body. Avoid doing this. When you really get into your run, your foot should be planting under your hips to maintain maximum force against the ground.
#4. Maintain a Lean Through the Entire 40 Yard Sprint.
At no point in the 40 should you be running straight up and down. It’s not the 100 or 200 meters. In a 40 yard sprint, you have not generated enough speed in terms of miles per hour to make it necessary to raise all the way up. After driving out with your head down for first 20 to 30 yards, you should maintain a slight lean through the final 10 yards of the sprint. You should resemble an air plane taking off. Airplanes start off with all wheels on the ground, as the plane picks up speed the nose begins to rise gradually before the plane takes off. However, in the 40 yard sprint, you will never rise all the way up because the 40 yard sprint is not long enough for that to happen.
#5. Relax at about 20 to 25 yards
This is something that may need some practice for some of you. By relax, I don’t mean slow down or stop running. What I mean is through the first 20 to 25 yards you have exerted a great deal of energy and power. Your aim was to reach your top speed as quickly as possible. This will typically occur at 20 to 25 yards. Now that you have reached your top speed, there’s nothing left to do but relax and let the speed come out. Continuing to strain to try and reach speed above the max speed you already reached only means that you will begin to slow down at a more rapid pace over the final 15 to 20 yards of the sprint. When you strain beyond your max speed, your muscles tighten, your stride decreases and your rate of speed takes a steep decline. The human body can only run at max speed for a short period of time. It’s like throwing a tennis ball in the air. The rate of speed of the ball out of your hand increases as it goes up until it reaches max speed then the ball immediately begins it’s decent back to the ground. Straining to try and get more speed after you have reached your max would be the equivalent of the tennis ball turning into a bowling ball on it’s way back down. Those who hold their speed the longest do so by realizing when they have reached top speed and then relaxing to slow their rate of decline in that speed.
Relax through the line and run through the finish. You should run like the finish line is at 50 yards not 40.
That’s it. With little time to prepare, following the steps outlined above is your best bet in trying to run a time under your best. If you master those tips during your sprint it’s possible for you to shave up to .15 tenths of a second off of your 40 time.
If you have the ability to, it’s always a good idea to film yourself running your 4o yard dash. Watch the video and analyze your progress in executing the techniques mentioned in this article.
For more tips and training techniques on increasing your speed, visit the guys at completespeedtraining.com. They have helped hundreds of guys like yourself reaching their sprinting potential.
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