Mind the Gap


NFL players are ridiculously fast. Prospects measure their speed in a 40-yard dash when trying out for the league. I went out to a football field with a friend to try this test of explosive speed.

Let's take my friend as a baseline. He was a successful collegiate D3 varsity cross country runner. That said, he was out of season and has little formal training or practice in sprinting.

He ran the 40-yard dash in 6.5 seconds.

I have some advantages over my friend. I am taller and broader with much thicker legs. I have well-developed fast-twitch muscles from a lifetime of martial arts. I was also more invested in the experiment, so I tried the sprint three times.

My best time in the 40-yard dash was 5.83 seconds.

The active roster of the NFL has over 1600 players, some of whom weigh in excess of 300 pounds. As far as I could tell, my 40-yard dash time was slower than every single player on the NFL's active roster.

In the NFL, 11 players have run a 40-yard dash faster than 4.3 seconds.

The gap in ability between recreational and professional also exists outside of athletics. I try to keep this in mind when comparing myself to others.

And who is recreational or professional is situational. DK Metcalf, one of fastest active players in the NFL with a 40-yard dash time of 4.33 seconds, recently competed in a heat of sprinters, attempting to qualify for the olympics in the 100-meter dash. He finished last.