The 40-yard dash is one of the most iconic tests of speed and athleticism, especially for high school athletes looking to showcase their abilities. But what are considered ‘good‘ times for high school boys and girls? In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll break down average 40-yard dash times by gender, age, sport, position, and skill level. We‘ll also provide tips for improving your time in the 40.
Average 40 Yard Dash Times by Gender
Let‘s first look at the average times for high school boys and girls.
Average 40 Time for Boys
For male athletes, the 40-yard dash is a rite of passage. It‘s one of the most common tests coaches use to evaluate speed and explosion.
On average, a competitive time for high school boys ranges from 4.8 to 5.2 seconds. Elite sprinters and athletes who specialize in speed and power events can run even faster:
4.4 to 4.6 seconds: Exceptional time for a high school athlete. This time range indicates elite speed and acceleration.
4.7 to 4.8 seconds: Excellent time for a high school athlete. This range is highly competitive for skill positions in football or for sprinters.
4.9 to 5.2 seconds: Good time for a high school athlete. This range is above average and respectable for many sports.
5.3 to 5.6 seconds: Average time for a high school athlete. This time won‘t turn heads but is decent for most positions.
5.7+ seconds: Below average time for a high school athlete. More speed training may be beneficial.
Keep in mind these average times can vary based on factors like training, genetics, and technical proficiency in sprinting. The fastest published 40-yard dash time for a high school player is 4.19 seconds, set by Robertson Daniel from Florida in 2017. But even times in the 4.5 range are exceptional for most high school athletes.
Average 40 Time for Girls
While high school boys may clock faster times on average, female athletes can also achieve lightning-fast times in the 40 with proper training.
For girls, the average 40-yard dash falls between 5.4 to 6.2 seconds:
5.0 to 5.3 seconds: Elite time for a female high school athlete. This range indicates exceptional speed.
5.4 to 5.7 seconds: Excellent time for a female sprinter or skill position player. Highly competitive at the high school level.
5.8 to 6.1 seconds: Good time for a female high school athlete. Slightly above average.
6.2 to 6.5 seconds: Average time for a female high school athlete. Decent for most sports.
6.6+ seconds: Below average time. More speed training could help improve this time.
While straight-line speed is important, coaches often look at change of direction and acceleration for female athletes as well. But a sub-6.0 second 40-yard dash will turn heads at the high school level. Some standout athletes like Candace Hill have even dipped into the 4-second range.
Average 40 Times by Sport and Position
Let‘s take a look at average 40 times in some popular high school sports.
For football, the 40-yard dash is one of the most important athletic tests. Coaches use 40 times to evaluate a player‘s speed and explosion for their position.
Here are typical 40 times by position:
Quarterback: 4.8 to 5.2 seconds
Running Back: 4.5 to 4.9 seconds
Wide Receiver: 4.4 to 4.8 seconds
Tight End: 4.8 to 5.2 seconds
Offensive Line: 5.3 seconds and above
Defensive Line: 5.0 to 5.4 seconds
Linebacker: 4.8 to 5.2 seconds
Defensive Back: 4.4 to 4.8 seconds
Of course, these positions require more than just straight-line speed. Agility, change of direction, and acceleration are also vital. But the 40-yard dash provides a look at each player‘s explosive athleticism. Elite high school players can certainly run faster than these averages.
For soccer, the 40-yard dash isn‘t as common. However, straight-line speed is still important for short bursts down the sideline or chasing down balls.
While there are no average times specifically for high school soccer, some general benchmarks:
5.0 seconds or below: Elite speed for a soccer player
5.0 to 5.4 seconds: Excellent speed
5.5 to 5.9 seconds: Very good speed
6.0+ seconds: Average speed
Midfielders and forwards may work more on straight-line speed and acceleration, while defenders focus on agility and change of direction. But improving acceleration and top-end speed can benefit all positions in soccer.
In basketball, the 40-yard dash isn‘t a focal point. But developing speed, especially for fast breaks, is still important.
Average 40 times for basketball players:
Guards: 4.8 to 5.4 seconds
Forwards: 5.0 to 5.6 seconds
Centers: 5.2+ seconds
While straight-line speed is less of a priority, many basketball players still have respectable 40 times. Elite players can finish near or below 5.0 seconds as well. But coaches evaluate quickness, lateral agility, and change of direction more closely.
For baseball, the 60-yard dash tends to be more common as a speed test. But faster runners can still stand out in the 40-yard dash when trying out or in showcases.
Average 40 times:
Outfielders: 5.0 to 5.5 seconds
Infielders: 5.2 to 5.7 seconds
Catchers: 5.5+ seconds
Pitchers: 5.6+ seconds
As with the other sports, these average times vary based on position, training, and skill level. Some standout players can run in the 4.7 or 4.8 range. But raw speed isn‘t as important in baseball as quick acceleration and change of direction.
How Times Change with Age and Skill Level
As high school athletes develop, their 40 times often drop significantly. Let‘s look at how average times progress by age and skill level.
Freshmen: 5.5 to 6.5 seconds
Sophomores: 5.0 to 5.8 seconds
Juniors: 4.8 to 5.5 seconds
Seniors: 4.6 to 5.2 seconds
Naturally, freshmen have the slowest average times, as they are just beginning high school sports. By senior year, top athletes can run under 5.0 seconds after years of training.
While these averages provide a rough guide, elite freshmen or slower seniors can fall outside these general ranges. An athlete‘s training background, genetics, and work ethic also affect their progression.
By Skill Level
Beginner: 6.0+ seconds
Intermediate: 5.5 to 6.0 seconds
Advanced: 5.0 to 5.5 seconds
Elite: Under 5.0 seconds
Athletes who are less experienced or new to speed training typically run 6.0+ seconds. As they gain experience and improve technique, their times drop into the low-to-mid 5-second range. Elite sprinters and veteran athletes can finish under 5.0 seconds.
These skill levels are general guidelines. An advanced sprinter may run under 5.0 seconds, while a talented but inexperienced sprinter could run under 6.0. Training background and athletic gifts affect speed capabilities.
But in general, athletes grow faster with sound training and technique practice over their career.
Tips for Improving 40 Yard Dash Time
Here are some key tips for improving your 40-yard dash performance:
Focus on Acceleration
The 40-yard dash is a test of acceleration, not just top-end speed. Work on exploding out of the blocks and covering the first 10-20 yards as quickly as possible. Drive hard with your legs and pump your arms to gain momentum.
Improve Start Technique
Practice the details of an efficient start – proper block spacing, arm position, and drive phase. Work with coaches to refine any limiting factors in your first steps. Those precious tenths of a second make a big difference.
Build Lower Body Power
Strength training for your posterior chain helps improve sprint speed. Focus on Olympic lifts, squats, deadlifts and plyometrics to gain power. But don‘t neglect your core and upper body either.
Use Speed Ladders and Hurdles
Speed ladders, low hurdles, and other agility drills develop coordination and fast foot turnover. Quick feet help you stay smooth rather than choppy during a full-out sprint.
Perform Sled Drags and Resisted Sprints
Sled drags and running with resistance bands/chutes build strength and power for acceleration. When you remove the resistance you‘ll feel lighter and more explosive.
Work on Sprint Mechanics
Analyze your sprint form and mechanics. Cue yourself to drive your knees, pump your arms, and stay leaned forward rather than upright. Efficient form prevents wasted motion.
Develop Max Velocity
The last half of the 40 is all-out max velocity. Do fly sprints to maintain your top speed longer. Work on optimizing your stride length as you fatigue through the finish.
Improve Recovery Ability
Proper cool-downs, hydration, nutrition, and sleep all help recovery between speed sessions. Staying fresh allows you to train your 40 frequently and intensely.
With sound training and an emphasis on fast starts, players can steadily drop .1 to .3+ seconds from their 40-yard dash times over a high school career. While genetics play a role, focused work on acceleration, power, and sprint form can lead to big improvements.
The 40-yard dash has become a proving ground for high school football players, track athletes, and other competitors looking to display explosive speed. While boys may average slightly faster times overall, girls can also register lightning-quick times with proper training.
By senior year, elite sprinters can finish under 5.0 seconds after refinement of their start technique, stride mechanics, power, and speed endurance.
But regardless of your current skill level, focusing on areas like acceleration out of the blocks and max velocity work can help you lower your 40 time. Combine smart speed training with technique practice and you‘ll see your hard work pay off on the clock.