Fake 40 Times

Submitted by TMayBG20 on July 16th, 2009 at 9:39 AM

I love these write ups on the new recruits.  They are very informative and interesing.  However, one thing always irks me.  The "Fake 40 Time Sections" and the wide belief on MGo that fast 40 times don't translate to the field. 

1st: 40 yard dashes are timed in a mulitude of ways (i.e., outdoors, indoors, grass, astro turf, field turf, basketball courts, rubber tracks, wind-aided, below 60 degrees, above 80 degrees, above sea level, at sea level, hand held, electronic, etc.).  ALL OF THESE FACTOR IN A 40 YARD DASH TIME.  Yes, at the NFL Combine they post the times to the public.  But, the majority of scouts take their own numbers back to their respective teams.  They do so, b/c they trust their own timing and this gives them at least one constant when comparing times.  Times in FLA, TX, GA, etc. are faster for a number of reasons.  As fast as Denard is, he wouldn't run those times in Michigan during April when it is still 55 degrees outside, windy, and above sea level.  The kids aren't necessarily faster...in fact, the Midwest usually has some of the faster track kids in the Nation when it comes to timing at National Events.  I can go on and on.  But, the times you see aren't "FAKE" they just don't correlate to whatever imaginary scale being used to determine the validity of an "ACTUAL" 40 time.

2.  Yes, when someone has consistent fast times this usually means they always run fast.  Even on the football field.  As an observer, sometimes it is really hard to judge how fast someone is.  Hate to bring the whole Tate vs Denard thing up, AGAIN (I know how much you hate it)!  But, there will be absolutely no comparison to how fast each one is...track speed, field speed, game speed, it won't matter!  Now, some players don't run as fast a 40 time as they are phsyically capable, but this is due to lack of coaching.  But, if they are running fast times they are gonna run fast on the field if they know what they hell they are doing.  A smart player is confident, a confident player can play full speed.

3. And USAIN BOLT IS ONLY 22 years old!  How fast do you think he was at 18?  I can guarantee you he was running well under a 4.4 second 40 yard dash time.  Look at Ted Ginn. He was widely considered to have world class speed...and it showed on the field as he consistently ran past opposing defenders while playing with the SUCKeyes!  Someone else do the google search to find out what he ran in HS...

***Sorry, I just don't like to call 40 times fake***  The time may not exemplify a players actual speed, but they are usually are representative of how fast someone may have run at that particular time.

Happy Runnings...



July 16th, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

I disagree.

Many of these 40 times are fake, or at least poorly timed. The thing is, technology has improved. We no longer have to time forties by saying one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, etc.

My players always want their forty times during summer workouts. Sometimes the grass has been cut recently; sometimes not. Sometimes someone bumps the cone and makes the 40 yard dash a yard or two shorter or longer. Some random coach with a stopwatch on his cell phone will begrudgingly time him without trying too hard. But guess what? When someone asks their forty time in a couple days, they give them that number...

...or they inflate (deflate?) it by .1 or .05 to make themselves sound faster.

We had a kid transfer in from Mississippi last year who told everyone he could run a 4.2 forty.

So you're right - there are all kinds of ways to measure the forty, and not one standard that we can all take to the bank.

I think everyone's standard is the NFL Combine. My standards lately have been Darrius Heyward-Bey and Pat White.

I hear about recruits saying they ran a 4.34 and I'm like, "Heyward-Bey was the fastest guy at the NFL Combine this year, and he ran a 4.3. That guy is in his early twenties and has been working for the NFL Combine for the last half of a decade, working with people who make their living on getting him as fast as possible. And you're telling me some random high school kid who did a few squats and chased some rabbits is just as fast?"

At the same time, people say, "OMG Tate Forcier runs a 4.55 because his Rivals profile says so and he's so fast he's going to change the game of football and win the Heisman OMG." Pat White has been tearing up college defenses for four years and training for the Combine, and the dude just ran a 4.55 that earned him millions of dollars. Forcier - who admitted to rarely if ever lifting weights - is not the same speed as Pat White.


July 16th, 2009 at 11:27 AM ^

Should only be the standard when testing there. Just as with track, different tracks on different days will produce different times. The NFL Combine in Indianapolis is only one place to measure the 40 yard dash. As stated before, some of the scouts don't even like to use the official times at the combine. Some are more confident with using their own times they derived from the use of a stop watch, b/c they know the majority of players have been timed this way and it makes comparisons more accurate.

Now, there are a number of factors that could throw the validity of a time off. I like what you said about timing your kids...that is usually how it goes. But, with all the camps and combines that are now available it is safe to say that a majority of these top recruits have been timed at many of these events. I knew people that were running 4.3s in high school and they did everytime, everywhere they went and it didn't matter who was timing them. I can almost guarantee that Denard is probably right in the front of the pack when they are training this summer, b/c he is fast and it doesn't matter how old he is. Heyward-Bey has probably been running 4.3s since he 15 or 16 years old. Look at Morgan Trent, his combine time was fast and he has always been fast. It is a wide perception that this years 40 yard dash times were slow at the combine. I think the previous 3 years totals (altogether) were more than 20 players with sub 4.3 times at Cornerback position alone. This year there were none, correct me if I am wrong...again a number of factors could be the cause of this.


July 16th, 2009 at 12:11 PM ^

Stopwatches aren't an accurate way of gauging speed. Lasers are more accurate. If stopwatches were more accurate, the development of laser timing wouldn't have happened.

I doubt you knew kids in high school (that is, multiple kids) who were consistently running 4.3 forties. If they told you that, they were probably lying. Or they were poorly timed. Or you went to BALCO High. The fastest players in the NFL over the past 20 years have run high 4.2s or 4.3 forties. Those have been on different tracks and with different timing methods, yet that general area is what the fastest football players in the world run. Joe Schmoe football recruit isn't as fast as Chris Johnson, Darrell Green, etc. They're just not. And if they are (which they're not), then dozens of speed coaches out there are ripping off colleges, professional teams, pro prospects, and runners with Olympic dreams.


July 16th, 2009 at 1:09 PM ^

You show me how many people are using lasers to time at these camps (the NFL Combine & Michigan's football camp are two of the only that come to mind). Even the majority of pro days all the scouts use a stop watch and they come together at the end and they estimate what a players official time should be. And, yes naturally times are slower using a laser. Hence, why times are slower at the combine. I can name a hand full of places that were using lasers as little as 5 years ago. And still, even with lasers some challenge the validity of times. This backing up my statement of why many scouts prefer their time from their own stop watch.

My argument is that ALL the 40 times you see aren't fake, that could just be the time they ran at one particular time. Times are largely effected by a lot factors other than the speed of the player. And, do the math there isn't a whole heck of a lot of high shool football players claming to run a 4.3.

And no, it wasn't BALCO high. But, when you actually play a Division I college sport or played for a top tier high school program you run across A LOT of athletes that can do remarkable things.

Chris Johnson probably will run a 4.2 on a stop watch 9 out of 10 times, considering all other factors are at standard. In fact, Chris Johnson has been mentioned as running a 4.2 in the past. Green & Johnson ran fast 40s, b/c they are fast! Chris Johnson isn't the fasted player in the NFL, there is one or more players just as fast on every team.m CJ has probably been running 4.3s since high school.


July 16th, 2009 at 1:53 PM ^

Your very first statement asks me to provide other examples of places that use laser timing, and then your only two examples are 1) the Combine and 2) Michigan's football camp, which I'm presuming are the two settings with which you are most knowledgeable. I could be wrong, but don't you think the two most prominent "combines" in your mind use of lasers might be indicative of much of the football world?

Nobody (that I know of) has said that ALL forty times are fake. We're simply saying that many of them are. That's why Brian often gives a rating of "FAKE FAKE FAKE" (i.e. a preposterously fast time) or a "FAKE" (i.e. maybe a bit fast) or sometimes a "That sounds about right."

I played and coached ball at a school that produces, on average, one Division I recruit a year. A few of those guys were skill athletes, and a few of them ended up on NFL rosters. I've been around good athletes. None of them ran 4.3s, and I was present when they were timed and their times were announced. I am not repeating something I've read or making wild guesses; I've been there. Just because you played a Division I college sport (I'm assuming based on your comment) doesn't mean you're the only one who has any clue about what happens at these things.

Your examples of Green and Johnson are fine. I don't see what your point is. I said they're fast. All I'm saying is that Johnson TRAINED with professional TRAINERS and paid them THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to make him faster so he could make MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. That type of training cannot be replicated on a treadmill or by doing a couple lunges or chasing rabbits through the muck.


July 16th, 2009 at 6:19 PM ^

Not more familiar with those two, they are the first that come to mind. I have been to multiple Nike Camps, camps of different Universities, as well as other pro scouting combines, and about 90% of them have used a stop watch, IN MY EXPERIENCES! They don't even use the laser at a majority of Pro Days. Even when most athletes talk about a camp or combine, it is usually noted when they used a laser for the 40 yard dash. And I am not saying that Michigan's camp is all that prominent, depends on who you are asking. I stated them, b/c I am from there and we are on a Michigan board.

Ok, my apologies to Brian. I have obviously missed the whole rating scale of: FAKE, FAKE, FAKE; FAKE; and "That sounds about right"

I know that I am not the only one that has seen good athletes in person. But, what I AM SAYING is, "It is absolutely ridiculous to believe that a high school kid isn't capable of running a 4.3." How many kids have you seen run a sub 10.3 or 10.4 100M dash? Not many, huh...but, they do exsist! Ask Denard. In addition, I bet he runs a 4.3 if you ask him or anyone that has held that stopwatch while he was doing it. A lot of kids run 10.5 - 10.8 100M in high school. We had about 5 of them on one track team in HS, 3 of the 5 all ran 4.3s everytime they ran for the most part (some rare instances of 4.4s). These times aren't "FAKE"...they are indicative of the conditions they were timed in.

"All I'm saying is that Johnson TRAINED with professional TRAINERS and paid them THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to make him faster so he could make MILLIONS OF DOLLARS." Being a coach, you should know that you can't coach that type of speed. They can teach him all the techniques in the world to help him "maximize" his speed, but he was gonna be fast regardless. He has probably always been the fastest in his school or age group since he was racing for candy at recess.

"That type of training cannot be replicated on a treadmill or by doing a couple lunges or chasing rabbits through the muck." (Chasing rabbits through the muck is hilarious, b/c I played with a guy from Pahokee whose nickname was "Muck") I hate that I have to expand on this, but I will. Which one of these highly recruited Division I athletes are you talking about? Some of these kids play sports and train 365 days a year. Not really sure who in this discussion falls into that category. The way these high school programs are designed today their training programs are very similar to college. Have you seen some of the training facilities at some of the schools in the South? More and more kids are coming out of high school college ready...look at the trend of True Freshmen starting at DIVISION I schools. Do you think they would play if they weren't big, strong, or fast enough? It is possible for a high school kid to be ready in terms of size and speed...

Magnus, I hate to seem like I am attacking your posts. You are one of the people on MGo that I usually agree with. We just have a difference of opinions this time...


July 17th, 2009 at 1:35 AM ^

I'm not saying it's impossible for a high school kid to run a 4.3. I'm saying many forty times are exaggerated. If we were to believe all the forty times recruits claim to have, then nobody but linemen and pocket quarterbacks runs slower than a 4.6.

Chris Johnson probably has always been fast. That doesn't mean he was running 4.28 forties when he was 16 years old. I'm guessing his college trainers, his body maturation, and his training for the Combine helped.

Someone else posted a link in this thread about why forty times are way off. I think it's a good read.


July 16th, 2009 at 10:12 AM ^

Brian is not saying a kid is not fast by saying his 40 time is fake. He is just pointing out that 40 times are by a large majority not correctly timed. It is all realtive. When Denard is listed as a 4.4 he says not fake as there is data to back it up(state track titles, several documented times. It is when some random linebacker that is 230lbs ssays he runs a 4.4 and all we have is the coaches word that that is his 40 time and his film he doesn't look all that fast then that is fake.

In case you are not up to date on the origins of the fake times. SI did a piece 15yrs ago or so on the 40. The fastest any human has ever run was a roided up Ben Johnson at the 88 Olympics. When they timed the 1st 40yds of that 100M record his time came out to something like 4.38 so the plausibility of any high school kid running an actual sub 4.5 forty based on that standard it is "fake". You want to use your standard that is fine but that is the origin.


July 16th, 2009 at 11:07 AM ^

Deion Sanders ran a 4.3 at his pro combine in a full sweat outfit. Afterwhich Deion stated, "I felt I could of ate a 4.3 for breakfast." This is when it was unheard of to run those kinds of times. BTW, a "roided up Ben Johnson" doesn't even hold one of the top 5 fastest 100M times. As with track, football 40 yard dash times have continued to be increasingly faster regardless of 1,000+ different nutrional supplements you can add to your diet and training programs.

A 40 yard dash time is a display of relative strength and explosiveness in terms of body mass. For example, the players that run the faster 40 times usually have higher verticles and broad jumps. All of the above are measures of strength more so than speed. This would explain why a person running a 4.4 might not look that fast running on film. However, if they are consistently running 4.4s they are probably running fast ALL THE TIME. The stronger you are in relation to your body mass & weight the faster you will be.


July 16th, 2009 at 11:09 AM ^

Except when they time a player's 40, they let him have a running start. So to compare to Ben Johnson in the 88 Olympics, you'd have to take the time for him to go from 20 yds to 60 yds.

If you simply have a (single) guy with a stopwatch trying to time a forty, you have a number of problems:

1. He has to stand at the start line or the finish line. This makes his timing of one of these events inaccurate due to parallax errors.

2. The human reaction time is about 0.2 sec. This has to be the precision of any hand-timed 40. So a hand-timed 40 of 4.4 sec is really somewhere between 4.2-4.6 sec.

In track and field they deal with this all the time as most schools don't own a FAT (Fully Automatic Timing) system. See this article if you are interested:


July 16th, 2009 at 1:02 PM ^

I buy that...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/40-yard_dash

But someone using a hand timer still has some reaction time that needs to be accounted for, which can add time as described previously.

I think that the reason Brian started calling it a "Fake 40" time was that there were people claiming 4.1 or 4.15 times when the truth was closer to 4.3 or 4.4 (which is still fast).


July 16th, 2009 at 10:50 AM ^

Greetings. 40 times have always been overrated in my opionion. Do the math and check out the difference of 4.5 verses 4.6. That is less then a yard over the 40. So a guy with good instincts and better acceleration can compensate. While someone with bad instincts and the better 40 will still get blown away by the slower guy.

Now if you can find a good football player with sub4.5 times, great. But too many times we look at the 40 time and not the ability to make plays. I hope the switch to death backer works out, but Stevie Brown is a good example of a very fast player who has given up big plays because of making the wrong read, or being out of position. You can have Deon Sanders speed and ability and if your running one way, and the other guy the other and miss, your not catching up.

The 40 is more useful for who has the potential to play in the pros. Admitely, your not going to fine many pro safties running a 4.7 40. But someone like that if he has good football instincts could be a damn good football player in college and only hurt you if your playing a stacked team.



July 16th, 2009 at 11:34 AM ^

I have to agree with both you and Brian on fake forty times. I also agree with the milkman about instincts often trumping speed.

I like the forty as a speed measurement, but there is such a difference between football speed and what I will call "pure speed" that it isn't always the most important indication of a player's talent.

I would prefer to see how fast a player is when the recycled organic material makes contact with the rotary device. The aforementioned Stevie Brown has been too good an example of a deficiency in this area.

An overlooked facet of this discussion that was mentioned briefly by the original poster is that good coaching can make a team play "faster" than its pure times may indicate. It's like an outfielder who always gets the "jump" on a fly ball or liner or the PG who always knows where and when to pass the ball.

I think the entire team will play "faster" this season due to familiarity with the offense and resonance with the defensive coach and scheme. And they may even BE faster this season due to the Barwis factor.

I can't wait.


July 16th, 2009 at 1:30 PM ^

Any hand-timed 40 calculation says as much about the hand-timer's speed (and ability to start/stop at the precise time) as it does the runner's speed.


July 16th, 2009 at 1:57 PM ^

Was just about to post a link to the same article and you beat me to it. You are right. This explains why all football 40 times are "fake," at least in that they do not correspond at all to the true time it took to run the distance.

I think having a group of players timed in the 40 by the same method, even if skewed from reality, is still valuable so long as the method is applied accurately and equally to each runner. What you get then is data that is useful for relative comparisons. Comparing the speed of that group to the wider universe based on the clocked time is what is useless.


July 16th, 2009 at 4:43 PM ^

The ability to run 40 yards in a straight line, minus pads and helmet, is at best tangentially related to the ability to play football. At most positions, 40 time hardly matters at all. I think it holds some relevance to the WR and DB positions, but otherwise is largely useless.