# What would Usain Bolt's 40 time be?

Since I think in terms of football, I think I could get a better appreciation of Usain Bolt’s speed if I knew what kind of 40 yard dash he could run. He ran a 9.68 in the 100 meters. If my rudimentary math is correct, that works out to something like a 3.5 40, but that sounds ridiculous. Does anyone know if he’s ever been timed in a 40 yard dash, or know some method of conversion that’s more accurate. Even if he could run a 40 in under 4 seconds, that would be phenomenal. Running it in 3.5 sounds absurd, but maybe I’m wrong.

You’re right, it is 3.54 seconds for a 40 yard dash, but keep in mind that the average speed of a 100 meter dash is gonna be faster than that of a 40 yard sprint because you have to factor in the starting lag, which is quite significant for such short distances. That’s why the 200 meter is often (always?) faster than the 100 meter.

I don’t think Bolt’s 40 time would be all that impressive, actually. He starts well, but not amazingly. He’s making all his time from ~30-70m from what I can tell.

He couldn’t run it that fast from a standstill, but if he could get up to speed first . . . my god . . . the commentators said he probably got up to 30mph in the 100m.

Do football players run it with pads and helmets on? That would slow him down a lot.

The 40 is a whole other bag of worms, since it’s mainly used to quantify “quickness”. In other words, the NFL & NCAA use it to see how fast you’re going to come off the line. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be the fastest guy on the field, though that is often the case.

Interesting question, for sure. I’d love to see his 40 time.

No.

The realistic limit on his 40 time would be 4.1 seconds. There are any number of premier athletes who’ve run the 40 at the NFL combine and pro days- Olympic quality sprinters among them- and not one has even run a verified sub-4.2 second 40 under electronic timing.

In any case, Bolt is not fast out of the blocks at all. He’s a very large man, and all that mass takes a while to get moving. It’s his top speed that is astonishing.

There are a few other factors which slow down 40 times:

1. No starting blocks. The NFL-type 40 is run from a three point stance without blocks.

2. Surface: the 40 is run on astroturf, which while faster than grass is certainly slower than standard track surfaces like Morbo (sp?).

3. Shorter distance. The 100m allows the runner 70-90 meters at top speed to offset the 10-30 meters of acceleration time. The 40 obviously offers much less; indeed, really big wide receivers like David Boston were still accelerating when they finished the 40.

4. Two ways. The 40 time you hear commentators talking about is an average of two runs, one in each direction. These differ by as much as .2 for some guys.

If I had to guess, I’d put Bolt’s 40 time in the 4.29 to 4.35 range. Not that it matters; I doubt he can catch, and he’s got no practice making cuts or even turning corners.

Another way to look at it, he ran 5 and a half back-to-back 3.53 40s for the 200.

If ran an NFL 40, he would start from a 3 point stance which would hurt him since he’s not used to starting like that. OTOH, a football 40 is timed by hand, not electronically (usually).

This site lists his splits as:

10m 1.85
20m 2.87
30m 3.78
40m 4.65
50m 5.50
60m 6.32
70m 7.14
80m 7.96
90m 8.79
100m 9.69

That 40 m split equals a 4.25 40 yards. The standard for track is to add 0.24 to a hand-time to covert to automatic. So for a football 40, you’d subtract, giving you a 4.01.

The switch from blocks to a stance would raise it back up, but at any rate, he was well under 4.3.

Meant to say, he would be well under 4.4, and quite likely under 4.3.

According to the Wikipedia on 40-yard dash, Darrell Green recorded a time of 4.09s, which is the fastest.

I have to believe Usain Bolt is faster than Darrell Green.

But: No starting block + limited time at top speed + astroturf = maybe not.

Over 100 metres. Not necessarily 40.

Over 26 miles, there’s a lot of guys a lot faster than Usain Bolt. He’s a specialist in running a particular distance (well, two particular distances) and will not necessarily be faster at shorter or longer runs.

As has been pointed out, Bolt is not a famously fast starter anyway; he’s more in the Carl Lewis, Donovan Bailey mold of elite sprinters who run away from the pack in the middle part of the race. If you replay his gold medal races, he’s not winning until 40-50 metres, and really kills everyone after that. In the 200 he breaks away after about 40 metres, and for sixty metres after that it’s like a man against boys, then for the last bit of the race he just maintains his ridiculous lead.

Not sure why you’d have to believe that.

Darrell Green was 5’9" and comfortably under 200 pounds. That’s a massive advantage in the 40.

So Usain’s splits per 10m are:

1.85
1.02
0.91
0.87
0.85
0.82
0.82
0.82
0.83
0.9

Notice he’s not up to top speed until about 50m.