Sunday, February 24, 2013

Perfect 40 Yard Dash Start

In light of the NFL Combine taking place this weekend, I wanted to look further into the 40 yard dash.  So far this has been a record setting year, with a lineman running a 4.6 at 305 lbs., and Tavon Austin running a 4.2 (both unofficial).  This is obvioulsy part given ability, but also, I believe, a product of the increased coaching going into the testing of measureable.
I asked our Special Teams Coordinator, also a track coach, and speed and agility specialist, Jeff Papcun, to write on how to gain tenths, if not full, seconds on the 40 with a perfect start.  Below is his article:

Coach Papcun's Perfect 40 Stance and Start
The biggest thing before you do your 40 is a proper warm up where you break into a sweat, doing this will get your core body temperature up.
Determine what foot you want forward. If you are a righty you usually put your left foot forward and lefty, right foot forward. Find out which one is more comfortable for you.
Where do we place our front foot?
We want to be as close to the line as possible where we are really running a 39 1/2 yard dash. The shorter the athlete the closer they can be, most likely around 6 inches, maybe closer from the line. For taller athletes, you will be a little further back, around 8 inches.
This setup will allow your body to lean over the line.  There is no penalty for your body hanging over the line and doing this will cut a tenth of a second off of your time.
Play with your stance to see what's more comfortable for you.
Where to put your back leg?
What you are going to do is literally put your back foots toes against the heel of your front foot. You will then slide your back foot so it is in line with your hip.
It is a key to have your feet lined up with your hips; this is where you will generate your power to have a explosive STRAIGHT start.
Before we get into our stance make sure our toes, knees, hips, and shoulders are all squared and facing forward.
8 Steps to a Perfect stance and start
1: Get up on your toes
2: Creep out as far as you can over the line. The reason we do this is to mimic a forward lean as much as possible in your stance so we can get used to having our body leaning over the line
3: Start creeping back a few inches by putting your opposite hand of your front foot behind the line, we are going to try to hold this body lean position that we are in for about 2 seconds. Doing this will already put our weight forward so we can shoot out of our stance.
4: Where to place your arm:
Most athletes put there arm straight up in the air. Instead we are going to put our arm at a 90* angle next to our hip.
*Remember, during most 40s, the timers go by the first movement and if not it is electric timed so having your arm straight up you're being timed by your arm swing when most athletes haven't even broken out of their stance*
5: Proper angles:
We want our shins with the most forward lean as possible. We do not want our butt too high. If it’s too high it will hurt your time, because going on first movement, the first thing you will do is drop your butt before you even move off the line.
6: Keeping your head down:
While in your stance we want to keep our head down and look at your first step. This will help keep your body down. Head should stay down and low for the first ten yards. From there we will gradually stand up so by 15-20 yards we will be in perfect sprinters form.
7: We want to get the biggest first step possible. We want to cover the first ten yards in the least possible steps.
8: Breathing:
When you first reach out over the line to get into the stance you should take a deep breath and hold it. Hold it through the first ten yards. 
The reason for this is because it will build up your nerves and actually make you run faster
* Think about when you are swimming from one end to another in your pool underwater. When you want to come up for breathe you start swimming faster to get to the wall. This is the same concept as when you are running the first ten yards*
Jeff Papcun
Thank you to Coach Papcun for his article, and best of luck to all of the players fighting for their futures at the combine.

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