Fastest 40 yard dash times

There is a guy at my school who is rumored to have run a 4.2 in the 40 yard dash. To be honest, I find this incredible. Yet, I can’t find anything authoritative that says 4.2 can or can’t be run. I’ve seen claims that Ben Johnson’s steroid aided run netted a 3.9 at the 40 split during his world record run, but others claim the split was 4.3 or so.

Does anyone out there know of any list of top 40 times? Or can anyone out there give an informed opinion regarding the likelihood of running a 4.2 in the 40?

It was written in an Auburn University sports magazine that Bo Jackson ran a 4.13 40 in a workout, which was the fastest ever at Auburn. I’ve never seen another time listed that was that fast.

It should be noted that Jackson wasn’t only a football/baseball player, but was an SEC dash champion while he was at Auburn.

If the 4.13 attributed to Jackson was accurate, 4.2 isn’t that unlikely. The dude would have to be known as FAST though.

If you do enough research, you’ll find that times much under 4.40 are considered prima facie bogus.

An article for your perusal.



According to this link, it’s impossible.

just two more cents worth…

Many years ago I coached sprints in high school track and field and helped time events and train (volunteer) timers. The key was to teach people how not to anticipate the finish – anticipation shortens times because, while there is an unavoidable delay at the start as the person timing reacts to the starting gun, it’s human nature to watch the runner approach the finish line and so stop the watch as they cross it – with no delay. So, the person timing gets a late start but a quick finish.

In watching football players/coaches time athletes in the 40 yd dash, I used to see that they usually anticipated the finish – this can easily reduce a 4.6 to a 4.4.

In addition, track “hand” times are rounded UP. So a sprinter hand timed in 4.64 would be credited with a 4.7. Football players seem to always be rounded DOWN. So, a running back hand timed in 4.64 is generally credited with a 4.6.

As far as the OP, there are probably no offficial 40 times since it’s not a typical track distance. You might look at the records in the 60 meter for official stuff. Look here, , for world records, and here, , for high school. (note: is changing servers, so if the links don’t work, go to the main site.)

The 50 meter high school record is 5.69 seconds. Back in the day, the conversion factor from hand times to electronic times was +0.24 seconds.

BTW, great posts above.


The times for longer distances won’t work.

A guy running a hundred yards will run faster than a guy who runs two 40s and a 20, for reasons which should be obvious- he only has one standing start.

A standing start hurts the guy running a hundred a lot less than a guy running a forty, because he has an extra 60 yards of make-up time.

In other words, Ben Johnson’s 40 time based on his hundred time would have been slower than the article indicates- you can’t just convert his 100 meters to a yardage and then divide.

I don’t think Johnson’s time for 40 meters was derived from his 100 meter time.
At a high level track meet, there will be electronic timers to figure out splits.

No, but the article linked to is talking about extrapolating a 40-yard time from his 40-meter time.
Obviously, that won’t be quite as inaccurate as extrapolating from his 100 meter time, but the point remains.

When football coaches claim incredibly fast 40 meter/40 yard times for a player, you also have to remember that this time is recorded on a synthetic track optimized for fast speeds (and not on a football field), the football player is using sprinter blocks and spikes, he isn’t wearing ANY football gear or carrying a football, and this is his best time out of several trials–and only after being aided by the hand-timing errors explained above. Moreover, tailbacks, for example, rarely run flat out on a field, unless they’ve broken from the pack.

In short, it’s bogus, but it sounds impressive.

That depends, to some degree. There are a few (but only a few) backs who have good enough timing to hit their stride at the precise moment that they find the hole. Head down, flat out when you hit the first tackler = a couple of extra yards versus being tackled immediately after making a cut or slowing down to find the hole.

Michael Pittman, for example, although he ain’t no great shakes, hits the hole as fast as any back in the league. His problem is that he doesn’t have the agility to make anyone miss once he crosses the line of scrimmage, which is why he picks up about 3 yards on every play. Priest Holmes doesn’t reach his full stride until well after he crosses the line of scrimmage; indeed, on most plays, he never does- because he slows down to match the speed of his blocks, then cuts off the edge.

IOW, 40 times may or may not be critical for a halfback; it depends entirely on running style, and on how good the offensive line is.

Maybe he knew a shortcut?

I don’t know what you mean by “hit their stride,” but no sprinter reaches maximum speed after, say, five meters–none.

Aside from a precious few exceptions, world-class sprinters reach maximum speed at about 30-50 meters from the blocks. After that, they’re slowly decelerating or barely holding on. Carl Lewis was an exception toward the finish lines or Ben Johnson (on steroids) near the mid-point.

I might add: today’s astounding sprinting times correlate with steroid or HGH use. This is well-known in the sprinting community. Flo-Jo was a prime example, but looking at the men’s sharply reduced times over the last 15 years–after a relatively static period–it is self-evident even among the uninitiated that something BIG is up.