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40-yard dash: Wikis


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The 40-yard dash is a sprint covering 40 yards (36.576 m). It is primarily run to evaluate the speed of American football(Gridiron) players by scouts, particularly for the NFL Draft but also for collegiate recruiting. A player's recorded time in the 40 can have a heavy impact on his prospects in college or professional football. This was traditionally only true for the "skill" positions such as running back, wide receiver, and defensive back, although now a fast 40-yard dash time is considered important for almost every position. The 40-yard dash is not an official race in track and field athletics and is not an IAAF-recognized event.

The origin of timing football players for 40 yards comes from the average distance of a punt and the time it takes to reach that distance. Punts average around 40 yards in distance, and the hangtime (time of flight) averages approximately 4.5 seconds. Therefore, if a coach knows that a player runs 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, he will be able to leave the line of scrimmage when a punt is kicked, and reach at the point where the ball comes down just as it arrives.

Timing method and track comparisons

Jace Allen holds the record for a 3.7 offical 40 yard dash record. In terms of judging a person's speed, the best method of timing is through lasers which start and stop the times when passed through. A laser start (from a stationary position) is more accurate for measuring pure speed as it does not register a runner's reaction time. However, the method of timing a 40-yard dash can affect the accuracy by as much 0.5 seconds (with the manual stopwatch method). The National Football League (NFL) did not begin using partial electronic timing (started by hand, stopped electronically) at the NFL Scouting Combine until 1990.

In track and field races, the runner must react to the starting gun, which takes approximately 0.24 seconds, based on FAT timing. For electronically timed 40-yard dashes, the runner is allowed to start when he wishes, and a timer hand-starts the clock. This aspect means that comparisons with track times are impossible given that a reaction time is not factored in. Furthermore, the use of hand-timing in the 40-yard dash can considerably alter a runner's time; the methods are not comparable to the rigorous electronic timing used in track and field.

Darrell Green, who once ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.09 seconds,[1] had a collegiate best of 10.08 s in the 100 meters.[2] Justin Gatlin, who ran 9.85 s for a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic 100 metres, before being banned from the sport for abuse of performance drugs, has a verified 40-yard dash best of 4.42 s.[3] This reflects the difference that timing methods can cause to a runner's time.


  1. ^ Celizic, Mike. "Skins’ dynasty finally gets its due in Canton"., 2 August 2008. Accessed 30 April 2009.
  2. ^ "Darrell Green Elected To Pro Football Hall of Fame". Texas A&M - Kingsville. 2 February 2008. Retrieved 30 April 2009.  
  3. ^ Lee, Jimson. "Justin Gatlin 4.42 40 Yard Dash"., 4 April 2008. Accessed 30 April 2009.


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