We asked a panel of experts their thoughts on these two measurements. The 1st is a head high school football coach, the 2nd a college strength coach, and the final a successful athletic trainer and sport performance training studio owner. Below are 3 of the responses. We would like to hear from you. Please send your comments to us through our website so we can post all these results for everyone to see.
Head High School Football Coach -40 YARD DASH is a measuring stick we use to place our players in specific positions. It truly just measures straight ahead speed which in football it is not always a judge of talent. The VERTICAL JUMP gives you an idea of the explosiveness a player has but not always how athletic they are. We use both of these tests to get an idea of an athlete’s potential ability.
College Strength Coach - 40 YARD DASH - Any time a performance test is administered; there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. First, the coach or practitioner needs to ensure the test is reliable to compare times from past and future tests. Second, performance of the test must correlate to performance on the field or court. In most non-track sports, is is rare for an athlete to reach maximum velocity or run in a straight line for even close to 40 yards. 40 yard dash times have been engrained into the sports performance society so the times are almost standardized. In my opinion, there are other performance tests that are more valid in relation to the specific sport. Like any test, 40yard dash times are only a portion of an athlete’s overall performance profile.
The VERTICAL JUMP is one of the best measurements of lower body power for just about all team and individual field or court sports. Even for non-jumping sports, the vertical jump has a direct correlation to the athlete's ability to produce force against the ground in a triple extension type movement. The vertical jump is not a technique or flexibility dependent test such as an Olympic movement or a standing broad jump. The vertical jump is a body-weight performance test so it also does not have as many external factors when evaluating the test such as load, repetition, bar speed, etc. In my opinion, the vertical jump is the most relative and valid test for lower body power and force development.
Sports Performance Specialist - I feel the 40 YARD DASH is an antiquated way of measuring speed, but most people still use it because it is easy, it is a discussion point and one number colleges look at. However, to do it correctly, athletes accelerate over 20-30 yards, and this is not applicable in most sports. What most coaches are interested in is acceleration, not top speed. In my opinion, the 10-yard dash is a better choice of testing for sports performance/application.
VERTICAL LEAP can indicate an athlete’s ability to coordinate their entire body to produce power. However, it measures a one-time power output. Most sports require multiple outputs of force in a relative short period of time. (Multiple jumps in Basketball or Volleyball, or Football linemen firing off the ball and then driving multiple steps).
The 4th jump should be between 85% - 90% of the first jump, if it's over 90%, work on 1 time power, under 85% then look at building power endurance. A few better tests would be 4 Jump Broad Jump. You can measure total distance, or better yet, compare the first jump to the last jump. If you have the right equipment, you can do this with the vertical leap also.
We would love to get your opinion on these two measurements.