The quickest way to impress a college coach is to be the quickest guy in a 40-Yard Dash. “The 40” is probably the most closely-watched drill at any combine, and posting a head-turning time can mean the difference between having multiple scholarship offers and fighting for preferred walk-on status.

But running track won’t just help you run a faster 40 or help with recruiting. It will make you an all-around better athlete, improving your on-field football performance in three ways.

1. You’ll Find Your Fastest Running Form

Nobody knows the in’s and out’s of speed like a track coach. After all, there aren’t many variables in track—you are running in a straight line. So one small blip in your form can make or break a race. So track coaches place a huge emphasis on technique to maximize speed. Refining your technique on the track is a great way to make perfect running form second nature, so when game day comes on the gridiron, you’ll be able to run faster without having to think about it.

2. You’ll Build a Better “Burst”

Athletes who run track continually work on their starting stance, and with good reason: a runner’s speed “out of the blocks” has a lot of influence on their finishing time. An athlete can trim a tenth or even two-tenths of a second off their 40 time just by getting their start down cold.

An added bonus for football player is the action of coming out of the starting blocks is very similar to getting off the line of scrimmage. Both require you to generate speed and power from a dead stop. So improving your “burst” at the starting line will improve your burst off the ball.

In addition, an often overlooked but very important skill in football is the ability to accelerate from half- to full-speed, as when receivers run passing routes or cornerbacks make a break on the ball. Track teaches you to get to your top speed as quickly as possible. Common track drills, like Flying Starts, increase stride frequency and improve body control when transitioning to max speed.

3. You’ll Get More Speed with Less Effort

Most football players are all about force, running like bowling balls trying to knock pins down. Sprinters, on the other hand, look like they almost glide over the ground. A good track coach will teach you to relax your body and exert the minimal amount of force necessary to attain top speed. Not only will you run faster, you won’t be as exhausted after a play.

Coaches often prescribe long sprints of 200 to 400 yards with short rest periods (about 45 seconds) between them. The short recovery time forces you to find your most efficient stride and arm swing to avoid fatigue.

If your only sport is football, consider running track this offseason and experience the benefits of improved speed and becoming a more complete football player.

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The Athlete Maker Team:

Micah Kurtz, MS, CSCS, RSCC*D, USAW, FMS, NASE, serves as Strength and Conditioning Consultant Coach to nine-time high school basketball national champion Oak Hill Academy, which won the Dick’s High School National Basketball Tournament in 2016.  He is in his eighth year as Director of Strength and Conditioning at AC Flora High School., which has won 14 state championships in the past five years, including the 2016 boys’ basketball state championship. Kurtz was named the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Strength Coach of the Year in 2016. He was also named the South Carolina High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in both 2013 and 2014 and is part of the NSCA’s Subject Matter Expert Committee. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @KurtzM3.

Bryan Meagher is currently the Associate Head Coach of the 2016 Dick’s High School National Basketball Championship team Oak Hill Academy.  During his coaching career he has coached numerous NBA players that have included Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and Ben McLemore.  In Coach Meagher’s tenure, he has been a part of five high school basketball National Championships.  You can follow him on Instagram for workout tips @Bmeagher22.

Coach Hallett is entering his 21st season as the head coach at A.C. Flora High School. Over the past 20 seasons his Falcons have compiled a 441-170 record for a 722 winning percentage. During his tenure at Flora his Falcons have won:

14 Region Championships
13 District Championships
4 AAA Lower State Championships
4 AAA Upper State Championships
6 AAA State Championships

Luke Kurtz is the Vice President of Legal Affairs for US Sugar and passionate about helping students maximize their full athletic, academic and professional potential. He played free safety and was named captain of the State University of New York- Albany football team where he won two conference titles and earned the nickname “DB9” for being a team player and aggressive hitter. He played and coached professional football for the Corinthians football club in São Paulo, Brazil. He is an active writer and has delivered speeches and presentations throughout the United States, Brazil, China and Hong Kong.