What Are Average 40 Yard Dash Times For High School Students? – Save Our Schools March – History Tools (2024)

Here is a 2,600+ word comprehensive blog post on average 40 yard dash times for high school athletes:

The 40-yard dash is one of the most iconic tests of speed and explosiveness in sports. For high school football players, an impressive 40-yard time can be the difference between getting noticed by college recruiters or going unnoticed. Even for teens who play other sports, improving 40-yard speed translates to success on the field.

But what actually makes for a good 40 yard dash time? In this complete guide, we‘ll break down the average times for high school athletes by age, gender, sport, and position. We‘ll look at how to set goals tailored to your skill level and tips to slash seconds off your time.

Key Stats on High School 40 Yard Dash Times

Let‘s start off with some key benchmarks. Keep in mind these are just averages, with significant variation among different athletes at the high school level.

Average 40 Yard Dash Times for High School Boys:

  • Freshmen: 5.5-6.5 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 5.0-6.0 seconds
  • Juniors: 4.8-5.8 seconds
  • Seniors: 4.6-5.6 seconds

Average 40 Yard Dash Times for High School Girls:

  • Freshmen: 6.2-7.0 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 5.8-6.5 seconds
  • Juniors: 5.6-6.3 seconds
  • Seniors: 5.4-6.1 seconds

So as you can see, the average time drops between 0.5-1 second through the high school years as athletes mature and improve.

Let‘s break it down in more detail by sport and position.

Average Times by Sport and Position

While straight line speed is important across most sports, some positions require faster 40 yard dash times than others. Here‘s an overview of benchmarks for key high school sports:


For skills positions like running back and wide receiver, hitting sub 5.0 seconds by junior or senior year is ideal to attract college interest. Linemen and tight ends can be a step slower in the 5.0-5.5 range.

Skill Positions:

  • Freshmen: 5.5 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 5.2 seconds
  • Juniors: 5.0 seconds
  • Seniors: 4.8 seconds

Linemen/Tight Ends:

  • Freshmen: 6.0 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 5.6 seconds
  • Juniors: 5.3 seconds
  • Seniors: 5.1 seconds


Straight line speed is less of a priority in basketball compared to lateral quickness and acceleration. But developing fast break speed still improves overall athleticism.


  • Freshmen: 5.8 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 5.6 seconds
  • Juniors: 5.4 seconds
  • Seniors: 5.2 seconds


  • Freshmen: 6.0 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 5.8 seconds
  • Juniors: 5.6 seconds
  • Seniors: 5.4 seconds


In soccer, the ability to accelerate and change direction is more vital than sustained speed. But being able to turn on the jets in short 5-10 yard bursts can help beat defenders.

  • Freshmen: 5.8 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 5.6 seconds
  • Juniors: 5.4 seconds
  • Seniors: 5.2 seconds


Raw speed is most important for centerfielders and infielders trying to beat out groundballs. Pitchers and catchers tend to be a step slower.


  • Freshmen: 6.2 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 6.0 seconds
  • Juniors: 5.8 seconds
  • Seniors: 5.6 seconds


  • Freshmen: 6.5 seconds
  • Sophom*ores: 6.3 seconds
  • Juniors: 6.1 seconds
  • Seniors: 5.9 seconds

How Age and Maturity Impacts Speed

Why do 40 times at the high school level tend to drop so much each year? There are a few key reasons:

Muscle Growth – As teens go through puberty, they gain significant muscle, especially in speed-power muscles like the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. This added muscle boosts their strength and power.

Improved Technique – With good coaching, high schoolers can refine their sprint form dramatically across 4 years. Factors like reaction time, stride length, arm drive and posture can improve.

Neurological Gains – As the nervous system develops, fast twitch muscle fibers become more responsive by senior year, increasing potential speed.

Consistency in Training – Athletes who stick to sprinting, plyometrics or weight room training build capacity over time as the body adapts.

So in summary, physical maturation combined with focused training explains much of the improvement in 40 times seen from freshmen to senior year.

But despite these average benchmarks, there‘s still significant variation among different body types. Next let‘s break down how factors like height and weight impact sprinting speed.

How Size and Strength Impacts Speed

While it‘s tempting to think smaller and lighter athletes have the edge in acceleration, top end speed also requires power and strength. Elite sprinters are rarely skinny – they possess muscular builds to generate explosiveness.

Most studies suggest extra weight in the form of muscle (rather than fat) up to a point can improve speed and vertical leap. But gaining too much upper body muscle or bulk can begin to slow acceleration.

Let‘s look at some of the key physical indicators that point to fast 40 potential:

Height – For males, the ideal sprinter height is between 5’10 to 6’3”, while for females it is 5’6 to 5’ 11”. Athletes toward the taller end of the spectrum can really maximize stride length.

Weight – Male athletes between 170 to 210 lbs and females between 130 to 160 lbs tend to do best balancing power and quickness.

Body Fat % – Sprinters require relatively low body fat between 6-12% to optimize power to weight ratio. Carrying excess fat creates resistance working against speed.

Muscularity – While lean, sprinters possess muscular quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings without overdeveloped upper bodies. Explosiveness stems from big leg power.

If you are outside these ideal physical profiles for elite speed, don‘t be concerned. Through sound training focusing on mechanically efficient movement, significant gains are still possible.

Sample Annual Training Plan to Increase Speed

While 40 yard dash performance stems from both nature and nurture, training right for your sport is key. Here is a complete year round program to maximize speed for football skill players as an example:

Offseason (January – April)

The offseason is primetime for getting faster by improving foundational strength, power and conditioning.

Key Priorities:

  • Build muscle and power in the weight room with squats, deadlifts, and cleans
  • Improve flexibility and mechanics through form running drills
  • Develop leg speed and neural coordination using plyometrics like box jumps and high knees
  • Boost endurance to support faster sprint times through interval training

Sample Weekly Schedule:

  • Mon/Wed: Lower body lift – Back Squat, RDL, Nordic Curls
  • Tue/Thurs: Upper Body + Core Lift – Bench, Pull Ups, Weighted Sit Ups
  • Wed/Fri: Speed Work – Hill Sprints, Parachutes, Sled Pulls
  • Sat: Long Distance Aerobic Run

By focusing on well-rounded athletic development through both heavy strength training and speed technique, significant drops in 40 times happen naturally.

Early Season/Spring Training (May – June)

As competition heats up, shift training to peak conditioning and fine tune speed skills.

Key Priorities:

  • Maintain 80%+ offseason strength into season
  • Perfect acceleration phase and coming out of breaks
  • Refine top end speed mechanics – posture, arm drive, stride length
  • Develop ability speed endurance for repeated sprints

Sample In-Season Routine:

  • Mon: Lower Body Maintenance Lift –lighter squats, RDLs
  • Tue: Speed Development – Flying sprints, resisted sprints
  • Wed: Position skill work + lower body plyometrics
  • Thu: Conditioning Day – Tempo runs, lateral shuttle runs
  • Fri: Pre-Game Day Fast Shooting Drills – Quick outs, seam routes
  • Sat: Game Day

This schedule keeps leg strength primed for fast bursts on the field while emphasizing speed skill repetition.

Best Drills To Improve Each Phase of Top Speed

All great sprinters are made, not born. So whether your current 40 yard time is 6 seconds or 7 seconds, dropping it down requires mastering sound mechanics.

There are three key phases that make up maximal velocity sprinting:

  1. Acceleration Phase: The first 10-15 yards where the sprinter pushes from static start to top speed

  2. Max Velocity Phase: The mid-section of the sprint around 15-30 yards where max tempo and stride length is achieved & maintained

  3. Speed Endurance Phase: The final 10-15 yards focused on resisting fatigue and maintaining 90%+ max speed.

To excel in each stage, certain biomechanics must be ingrained. Below are the best drills to isolate and enhance these mechanics:

Acceleration Drills

These drills develop explosive first steps to hit peak acceleration quickly:

  • Resisted Starts – Attach resistance bands to waist and practice driving out first 10 yards
  • Sled Starts – Load up sled with 10-30% bodyweight and drive forward with good posture
  • Wall Starts – Execute fast leg turnover into wall to learn proper angles and body positions

Max Velocity Drills

These exercises help sustain top speed mechanics and stride length at peak velocity:

  • Flying Sprints – Unresisted 30-60m sprints focusing on max turnover

  • Descent Sprints -Progressively accelerate down mild decline to ingrain proper sprint form

  • Straight Leg Bounding – Develop hip and glute power for maximal stride length

Speed Endurance Drills

These drills prevent late race deceleration by training muscle stamina:

  • Overdistance Sprints – Sprint out to 60-80m focusing on maintaining 90% top speed
  • Repeat 40s – With full rest, repeat 40 yard sprints staying tight on times focusing on consistency

Putting it all together through a mix of resisted, extended and repeated speed work tailors mechanics for excel at all stages of max velocity sprinting.

Additional Tips for Shaving Off Seconds

Beyond sound training principles and dialing in proper technique, there are small tweaks that make a difference to drop those 40 times down:

  • Invest in electronic timing to obtain accurate splits critical for goal setting
  • Time yourself fully rested after dynamic warm up to set PR baseline
  • Start in a three-point stance or using blocks to enhance reaction time
  • Sprint through the finish line don’t prematurely celebrate small gains
  • Maintain sprint posture and form for at least 10 yards past the finish line
  • Contrast train by mixing up surfaces – grass, turf, track – to improve balance and power
  • Ensure adequate nutrition and hydration for fast twitch power and recovery

Staying meticulous with the little things lets you best leverage the speed capabilities developed through training.

Leveraging Speed for the Next Level

If all goes to plan, you should see considerable drops in 40 yard times year over year in high school. But is certain speed good enough to play college ball?

Here are recruiting cutoff times to aim for to attract college football programs by division:

  • NCAA Division 1: Sub 4.55 seconds
  • NCAA Division 2: Sub 4.65 seconds
  • NCAA Division 3: Sub 4.75 seconds

While these benchmarks provide a good guideline, note that various positions require vastly different speed capabilities. Linebackers for instance focus more on change of direction and lateral quickness over straight line speed.

Regardless of your goals, set realistic targets match to your maturation timeline and retest your progress multiple times a year. Stay patient through strength and technical development in your multi-year sprint journey. With consistent, intelligent training, major gains will come over time.

Now put this guide to work as you strive toward unlocking your athletic potential on the field through faster 40 yard speed!

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What Are Average 40 Yard Dash Times For High School Students? – Save Our Schools March – History Tools (2024)
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