What’s the Deal with the Dash?

40-Yard Dash
When it comes to NFL draft time, there are few things that scouts look at with more scrutiny than the 40-yard dash time. Let’s say you have three potential players and they’re all vying to be yer new wide receiver. They all went to different schools, all had different people throwin’ to ’em, and competed in different conferences. How d’you decide which player is the best? Ya toss ’em into the NFL Scouting Combine and run ’em through the same drills at the same time in front of the same group of scouts. After all is said and done, there are a few key drills that determine who plays pro and who goes home, but none is considered as important as the 40-yard dash.

Some people argue that scouts put way too much importance on 40-yard dash times. This one little bit of a player’s repertoire can literally make or break them as a draft pick. So where did the 40-yard dash come from and why exactly 40-yards? Wouldn’t 50-yards be even better for testing speed and endurance? Why don’t we just ask ’em to run a mile like back in gym class? According to Wikipedia, 40-yards comes from the average distance of a punt and the time it takes to reach that distance. Punts average about 40 yards and the hangtime (time of flight for the ball) averages around 4.5 seconds. That’s the magic number for coaches lookin’ to recruit players for running backs, wide receivers, and defensive backs. If you can run those 40 yards in 4.5 seconds or fewer, then your coach knows you’ll be able to leave the line of scrimmage when the punt is kicked and reach the point where the ball comes down just as it arrives.

So how can you go about improvin’ yer 40-yard dash time? Fortunately, there are a number of exercises and supplements that you can work with to shave off some of your time. It’s not gonna be easy and don’t expect to immediately start shavin’ off whole seconds. But if ya think you’ve got what it takes (and ya really need some help), then these tips are for you:

    – The Workout

    When you’re trainin’ fer speed, you need a workout that’s made for explosion. Good exercises to include are bench presses, squats, deadlifts, and military presses. These types of exercises are known as the “core lifts.” Exercisin’ these muscles and trainin’ em for explosive takeoffs is essential for givin’ you that extra surge off of the starting line.

    – Plyometrics
    Plyometrics are one of the best ways to shave off time from your 40. These types of exercises convert your slow twitch muscle fibers (used for distance running) into fast twitch fibers (used for sprinting and speed bursts). Plyometric exercises will make you run faster and can even increase your vertical jump! Some good plyometric exercises include:

      – Lunge Jumps: begin in the lunge position. Then explode up and go as high as you can while switching feet in the air. Do 2 sets of 10.

      – Squat Jumps: begin in the bottom position of the squat then explode straight up with legs as straight and high as possible. Do 2 sets of 10.

      – Skips: Skip with a running motion and pump your arms hard. Do 2 sets of 40 yards.

    – Accessories

    There are a number of great accessories that can help you increase your speed. Let’s take a look at some of the tools that can help you shave time off of your 40.

      Parachute Resistance Trainer: Parachutes can be used to add resistance to your runs. It’ll be tough going, but they’ll improve your overall running strength (meaning it’ll make you faster and help decrease your overall time)

      – Cones: cones are a must. They can be used to help mark distance for a shuttle run – a great drill that improves acceleration and improve your time.

    – Supplements

    Supplements are a great way to add a little extra oomph to your overall fitness regiment. They can improve muscle tone, boost your overall strength, and give you more energy to make your workouts last longer. Let’s take a look at some of the supplements that are safe and effective for you to use while you try to drop seconds off your 40 score:

      : Protein assists in building muscle which can give you an
      extra boost to decrease time. Power means speed and you need both to shave
      seconds off of your time.
      Creatine: Creatine gives you amazing strength gains that take your athletic
      performance to another level. It’s a safe supplement that’s sure to put you
      ahead of the pack.
      – Caffeine: If you find it hard to get through your workout, then you need
      some added energy. Caffeine gives you that extra burst you need to breeze
      through your workout. It also elevates your alertness on the field and in
      the weight room. No way you’ll start dozing off if you’ve got a little caffeine
      in your system.

So there ya have it, Scratch’s very own guide to improvin’ yer 40-yard dash time. I’ve outrun more than a few angry sabertooths in my time, so take it from me – I know how to improve a good sprint. Obviously, a good runnin’ schedule is also essential, but with these simple tips and tricks, you’re sure to shave time off of your 40-yard dash!

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