How Fast Can Soccer Players Run The 40-Yard Dash?

Have you ever questioned your speed compared to elite soccer players? You’re about to get your answer.

We’re going to discuss the velocities of top-tier athletes while sprinting the 40-yard dash and compare them to NFL stars.

We’ll also provide advice on enhancing your personal sprint speed.

Buckle up, as you’re about to step into a domain where timing is everything.

In a hurry? Here’s a quick & short answer that’ll definitely help you out!

Top professional soccer players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Arjen Robben have been recorded reaching speeds between 32.5-37 km/hr during games. Based on these top speeds, their projected 40-yard dash times would be in the range of 4.5-5.3 seconds. While not as fast as some elite NFL players, the world’s best soccer players possess great acceleration and impressive top-end speed that serves them well on the pitch.

Why the 40-Yard Dash Matters in Soccer

The importance of the 40-yard dash in soccer is undeniable. Not only does it assess a player’s speed, but it also gauges their agility. Soccer demands not just speed but also agility. The ability to move quickly over short distances could be the deciding factor of your performance.

Have you seen a forward outrun a defender to get the ball? This is pure speed in action. Now envision that same forward dashing through defenders or suddenly switching direction while keeping the ball under control. This is where agility becomes vital.

The 40-yard dash is a perfect tool for evaluating these attributes as it replicates the usual burst of speed observed during matches. Players seldom sprint full tilt over long distances on the field due to strategic reasons. Hence, coaches and scouts depend on this test to evaluate potential talent.

It’s critical to note though, that speed alone won’t assure victory in soccer. It’s a valuable attribute but needs to be paired with other skills such as dribbling, passing, accurate shooting, and a solid grasp of tactics.

Coming to grips with your 40-yard dash time isn’t about transforming into Usain Bolt in an instant; it calls for commitment, training, and patience. An increased sprint speed can indeed provide you with an advantage—utilize it judiciously!

How Soccer Players Train for the 40-Yard Dash

Often, soccer players incorporate a mix of interval training and sprint exercises in their regimen to boost their speed over brief distances. As someone who plays soccer, you would understand that the 40-yard dash requires more than just raw speed. It’s about burst power, agility, and retaining top speed throughout the run.

For effective training for this task, consider adding these crucial elements:

  • Interval training: This is a combination of high-intensity and low-intensity workouts. This method has been proven to enhance muscle strength as well as aerobic capacity.
  • Sprint drills: These are short, high-speed running bursts that are excellent for activating fast-twitch muscle fibers required for rapid acceleration.
  • Strength training: Concentration on leg and core strength can significantly enhance your sprinting capability. Squats, lunges, and deadlifts are all recommended exercises.
  • Agility drills: These exercises can enhance your ability to swiftly change direction—think zigzag or ladder runs.
  • Proper nutrition & rest: A balanced diet aids in recovery post strenuous workouts, and adequate sleep allows muscles to repair and rejuvenate themselves.

Bear in mind, persistence is crucial. Don’t expect immediate results, but keep at it. You’ll start noticing gradual enhancements in your speed over time—and when you do—you’ll find that all the effort you’ve put into your preparation was absolutely worth it.

Comparing Soccer and NFL 40-Yard Dash Times

When attempting to compare the 40-yard sprint times of NFL players and soccer athletes, the process isn’t as simple as it might initially seem. This is primarily due to the unique requirements of each sport.

In American football, an athlete’s rapid acceleration from a standstill is crucial. Players in this sport often record times of around 4.5 seconds or less for a 40-yard sprint.

In contrast, soccer does not place as much emphasis on short sprints. This sport is more focused on stamina, with sporadic bursts of speed required over distances much greater than 40 yards. Consequently, soccer athletes typically register slower 40-yard dash times, usually in the range of 5 to 5.5 seconds.

It’s crucial to understand that these statistics are not always directly comparable due to the differing training regimes and measurement conditions. An NFL player is generally well-rested and prepared for their sprint in optimal conditions, while a soccer athlete might perform their sprint after extensive aerobic activity in various weather conditions.

Notable Soccer Players and Their 40-Yard Dash Times

Discussing remarkable athletes such as Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Cristiano Ronaldo, their 40-yard sprint times aren’t typically shared with the public. However, based on data from games and practice sessions, we can make educated estimates.

Here’s a glimpse at how these soccer stars might perform:

  • Lionel Messi: He’s known more for his swift acceleration than top speed, and his projected 40-yard dash time is around 4.6 seconds.
  • Kylian Mbappe: Due to his explosive speed, he’s potentially quicker than Messi with a projected time of 4.5 seconds.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo: His top sprinting speed during matches indicates a commendable 40-yard dash time around 4.7 seconds.

Keep in mind that in soccer, the ability to change direction promptly often matters more than raw straight-line speed. The times provided are rough estimates and may fluctuate based on numerous factors like age, fitness level or even the weather conditions on a particular day.

You now possess more knowledge about footballers’ possible sprint times! Bear in mind though that while speed is vital in soccer, it isn’t everything – agility, stamina, and skill also play significant roles in shaping a top-tier player.

How to Improve Your 40-Yard Dash Time: Tips and Techniques

Boosting your sprinting time goes beyond just raw power; it also encompasses technique and consistent training. Think of it as fine-tuning a car engine for peak performance. Let’s break it down.

The start is key. You have to master your stance at the starting line – one foot slightly ahead of the other, knees bent, body angling forward. This positioning aids in propelling from the line with force.

The following step is acceleration. Put significant force on your back leg and move your arms rapidly but smoothly. The initial 10-20 yards are the most critical in most races, so maximize every stride.

Next, consider stride length and frequency. Contrary to popular belief, longer strides aren’t always the best – they can actually hinder your speed if not executed correctly! Instead, aim to find a balance between stride length and frequency that suits you.

Don’t overlook the part fitness plays in boosting sprint times. Brief periods of high-intensity workouts can prove more useful than long-distance running for this objective.

Recollect that progress may be slow but remaining diligent with these techniques and training methods will lead to improvement over time.


While some may assert that soccer is not primarily about sprinting, the significance of mastering the 40-yard dash should not be overlooked. The dash is not solely a test of raw speed but also gauges your explosiveness and agility.

So, strap on your cleats and commit to practicing. As you improve, your performance on the soccer field is bound to reach new levels.

Remember, even the best footballers recognize the importance of this timed run!

Manuel Esposito

Hello everyone! My name is Manuel and I've recently got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science at the University of Portsmouth. I'm raised and born in New York, and I've been a big fan of soccer my whole life. Soccer is the reason why I got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science, and my goal with this blog is to help you improve your soccer techniques, strategies, and knowledge!

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