“A player’s speed in the 40 doesn’t really tell you how fast he is in a game.”

– Bill Walsh


Let’s quickly talk about improving football speed.

AJ Green vs. Julio Jones

Heading into the 2011 NFL Draft, most scouts felt AJ Green had  better playing speed than Julio Jones, even though Julio had a faster

Jerry Rice’s elite playing speed helped him become the best NFL receiver ever, despite only clocking a 4.71 in the 40. (ICON Sports)

AJ went on to get drafted 4th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, while Julio was taken by the Atlanta Falcons as the 6th pick overall.

While it’s been said that AJ’s athletic ability and hands were the reasons why they the Bengals chose him over Julio, I can’t help but think that AJ’s faster playing speed had something to do with their decision.

We all know a fast 40 time will certainly get scout’s attention, but actually showing that speed on the field is even more important.

Related: 40 Yard Dash Training – STRETCHING to Improve Your 40 Time??


Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice ran a 4.71 and was a first ballot Hall of Famer, for crying out loud.

Besides, when was the last time you saw Jerry Rice get hawked-down from behind?

Go ahead, I’ll wait.


How to Improve Your Football Speed

So now that I have you convinced on the importance of playing speed, let’s take a look at 9 things you can work on to improve your playing speed on the field.


Related: 40 Yard Dash Training


1. Overall body strength, including your lower body and core

2. Running Mechanics and form

3. Quickness

4. Reaction speed

5. Acceleration

6. Change of direction speed

7. Closing speed

8. Speed endurance

9. Top end speed


In Top 10 Tips to Improve Sports Speed (via paperblog.com), Mark Dilworth, BA, PES, from Sports Fitness Hut does an awesome job covering and elaborating on each of the tips mentioned above.

It’s in your best interest that you avoid putting higher value on your 40 time than your playing speed.

Look at it this way…  your playing speed on film is usually what scouts see first, not your 40 time.

Related: Bet You Didn’t Know NFL Scouts Look for Some of this Stuff…


Ask yourself…  do you train for playing speed, or only for the 40 yard dash?   Leave a comment!


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