• Jacob Williams

THE COMBINE GRIND: 40YD DASH

In this multi-part series we will break down some key technical tips for each of the field-based combine drills, excluding positional work. We will begin by breaking down everyone’s favorite and big-time moneymaker, the 40. We will start by breaking down the set-up and first 5-10 yards, then move onto the latter part of the run.


When it comes to sprinting, every step is directly affected by the step preceding it, therefore, the set-up and start is one of the most important pieces of having a good 40 time. Given not many football players have a lot of experience getting set in a 3 point position, for sprinting, we try to make it a simple process.

 

THE SET-UP:


Getting set-up in a balanced and powerful 3 point position can be broken down into a multi-step process with a few key points

of reference. The first thing you need to set-up will be your distance from the line. You want to be close enough to have your weight going forward but not so close you are too tightly bound on the line. Once that is set you need to set up your foot placement and lower body angles. Here are the key points that we like to focus on for the set-up, in order.


Toes to Front of Line

Heel-to-Toe From Line

Feet Hip Width Apart

Drop Knee In-Line w/ Toe

Place Both Hands Down

Push Hips Above Shoulders

Get Pressure on Both Feet

Tuck Chin, Look Between Your Legs


Here is an in-depth breakdown of a 3-Point set-up for you to use as a reference when getting yourself going

 

ACCELERATION PHASE:


Once you are set in a good 3 point stance, the initial drive phase of your sprint can make or break your entire 40. The main focus of the drive phase is to get a big punch of the knee and toe out, then drive it down and back into the ground. Much of the action of the lower half of the body will be determined by the intent of the upper body though. In short, if you want a big leg drive, you need a big arm drive to compliment it. Each part of the body is intertwined with each other, everything must be working together to produce optimal results. Some of the key coaching points for the initial drive phase are, push off both feet to start, drive the knee OUT not up, keep the arms punching and pulling, and finally, keep a neutral head position.


Push Off Both Feet Big Arm Punch and Pull Knee and Toe Out, Not Up

Drive Down and Back Into Ground Maintain Neutral Head Position


Checkout the video below for a more in-depth breakdown!


 

TRANSITION AND TOP END PHASE:


Once you have reached 15+ yards, most team sport athletes are already at 90+% of their top speed. For this reason, the positioning of your body changes when compared to the drive phase. As stated earlier, each step is affected by the one preceding it, and as you get closer to your top speed your body gets more upright. The main key of this phase of the sprint is to transition upright in a smooth fashion, without any abrupt and sudden postural changes.


As for the movement of the lower half, it will be similar to that in the acceleration phase, the only difference being the position of your posture. Because of the change in posture, your knee and toe will drive more up than out, creating what is referred to as a “front side lift.” If you do not get this front side lift, you are creating fewer opportunities to apply force into the ground and shorting yourself of time. Much of this needs to be established in your warmup posture drills as, once you have to think about movement, you immediately get slower, paralysis by analysis.


Smooth Transition Upright Good Front Side Lift

Quick Punches Down Into Ground Neutral Head Position


Get a breakdown of the transition and top-speed phase below!



The 40 can be a make or break moment for a lot of athletes on the fringe. A solid time can confirm to coaches their interest in offering you and a bad time could push you down the list. Fair or unfair thats the reality for a lot of athletes hoping to play at the next level. Although there are a lot of things to look at, this is meant to give you some tips and tricks on what to start looking for next time you run a 40. If you want some guidance or more tips make sure to subscribe to the newsletter or hit me up directly via email with any specific questions.

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JWCoachingLLC™
Fort Lee, NJ

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