The forty- a true test?


The NFL Combine is going on now in Indianapolis. As a track coach it always makes me chuckle when I see the 40 Yard times published. They are not bogus times, but they are trying to compare apples to oranges. A sprinter in track has to react to a gun, that reaction can vary and can change a time at a distance like the Forty up to two tenths of a second. At the combine all the times are with self starts, there is no reaction to a gun. Also I always question how much movement they allow which can also make a huge difference. The biggest question I have is what does the Forty have to do with football? It is much like the Sixty in baseball. Both were first used by people who were innovators in the their games at the time, Paul Brown in Football and Branch Rickey in Baseball. The Forty is the approximate distant a player has to run to cover a punt and close in time duration. The Sixty is the sum of the distance from First to Third base if you run in a straight line. Most people that know both games agree that the times have little relationship to the respective games, so why use them? Either devise more representative tests or just stage a football only Forty Yard track meet where players compete by position and they do have to react to the gun. Then I guarantee you won’t see very many sub 4.5 times. I like Bill Belichick’s term Functional Speed, it is the speed you can apply to the game. It is not as measurable, but you sure can see it.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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