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The Kevin Tolbert Files

Kevin Tolbert is the Head Strength Coach at Stanford University.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy where he played running back for the Midshipmen.

As a young man he performed 23 reps with 375 lbs on the bench press and performed 30 reps with 600 lbs in the barbell squat. Kevin knows how to Get Strong.

Kevin explains, starting with blocks and starting without them are similar but they are not the same. 


The 40 yard dash is run primarily to evaluate the speed of the American Football player. Anecdotal evidence is that Paul Brown the former Ohio State Buckeye coach, and after World War II , the owner and coach of the Cincinnati Bengals introduced the forty to football.

There has been a lot written about training for the 40 yard dash, especially about the start. I think if you learn the following it will help you sift through all the information:

We do not have starting blocks when we run the 40 yard dash and the techniques associated with coming out of the blocks are not appropriate for us.

Start with your hand and foot as close to the line as comfortable and allowed….I mean close!

•    First step should be well into the timing area
•    Most powerful leg should be drive leg
•    Head in normal postural position relative to spine
•    Do not cock your arm
•    Place hand in your pocket
•    Drive leg should be at a right angle with space underneath your drive legs heel.
•    You should have to fall forward
•    Hips, head and spine, trail leg
•    Trail leg distance minimal for quick drive forward

Running Drill
Drive/ Acceleration
•    Keep head in neutral position
•    Maintain good body lean; (45 deg or less)
•    Drive legs/knees high, hard, and fast
•    Aggressive arm action
•    Eyes down
When done correctly it looks like you do have blocks!

•    Eyes down!
•    Stay low 8-10 yards
•    Do not look up until head comes to normal position

Top End Speed

•    Swing arms hard and fast
•    Fast leg turnover
•    Stay relaxed!
•    Run hard!!



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