Football Speed Drills to Improve Your 40-Yard Dash

STACK Expert Joseph Potts offers four of his favorite speed drills to for football to improve your 40-Yard Dash time.

If you want to get noticed by a college football scout at this year's combine, camp or showcase, you need to focus on the 40-Yard Dash. Most coaches and scouts use it to test an athlete's speed.

Speed Drills for Football

Here are four of the best speed drills for football to get ready for the 40-Yard Dash.

Band Burst Drills

This is one of my favorite speed drills because of the dynamic nature of the bands. Unlike sleds, the bands make this drill harder as you gain momentum. I used it quite often when I helped former University of Kansas defensive back Ryan Murphy lower his 40-Yard Dash time to 4.34 seconds (Ryan Murphy - NFL Draft Scout Profile).

  • Use a minimum of two 41-inch resistance bands looped together, a pair of cleats, a partner and two cones.
  • Set the cones 5-8 yards apart.
  • At the first cone, loop one end of a resistance band around your waist and assume a 3-point start position.
  • Your partner holds the other end of the band taut but not stretched.
  • Sprint past the cone marking the finish line.
  • As the band reaches its full stretch-capacity, your partner takes a couple of steps toward you to avoid having the band reach its failure point.
  • Sets/Reps: 2-3x3-5

Stadium Stair Sprints (2 steps at a time)

Whenever possible I like to get athletes outside for stadium stair sprints. Hill sprints work, too, but I've always felt like stadium stairs, taken two at a time, reinforce adequate hip flexion. I like to use distances that require 6-8 seconds worth of effort, with rest intervals approximately 10-15 times the work performed (i.e., a 6-second sprint with 60-90 seconds of rest.) For longer activity (10-25 seconds), I extend the rest closer to Charlie Francis's recommended 20-30 rest-to-work ratio.

Variations: Add a weighted vest or tow a sled (only on a hill) for the duration of a sprint.

  • Sets/Reps: Perform 5-8 reps at your assigned distance.

Prowler Marches

I like to have athletes perform this drill like they sprint, beginning with a drive phase and transitioning to a higher body position. Additional weights placed on the Prowler will vary with the type of flooring, distances and the athlete involved.

  • Grasp the Prowler handles, which are lower to the ground.
  • March while emphasizing hip and toe flexion for more efficient movement patterns.
  • After completing the assigned distance (usually 10-15 yards), move to the other side of the prowler, place your hands on the pipes, and push the sled back to the start using the same movement cues.
  • Sets/Reps: 6-8 reps with full recovery between them to emphasize speed development, or shorter rest periods to emphasize conditioning.

Push-Up Starts

  • Assume a push-up position.
  • Explosively push your body up while simultaneously bringing your drive leg forward to start your sprint.
  • Your goal is to react quickly and drive out while staying low (body angle at approximately 30-45 degrees), your shoulders out in front of your hips to achieve proper acceleration posture.
  • You want to avoid standing up too fast, as this robs you of the ability to accelerate efficiently.
  • Sets/Reps: 4-8 reps of 20-40 yards, alternating drive legs with each rep. The walk back to the start line should be sufficient rest time between reps.

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