The objective of this study was to determine performance differences between individual and competitive trials of the 40-yard dash. Physically active college men (n = 25) and women (n = 29) performed an individual 40-yard dash, followed by completion of the Sports Competition Trait Inventory (SCTI) before performing a paired 40-yard dash against a time-matched competitor. All sprints were performed on an indoor rubberized track using photoelectric gates to start and stop a digital timer. In addition, 3 timers used hand-held stopwatches to record the individual sprint time. There was no significant difference (p < 0.10) between men (120.3 +/- 16.6) and women (111.7 +/- 20.3) on the SCTI. There was no significant difference between individual and competitive 40-yard dash times for either men (5.21 +/- 0.24 and 5.19 +/- 0.23 seconds, respectively) or women (6.12 +/- 0.31 and 6.11 +/- 0.32 seconds, respectively). The correlation between SCTI and both individual and competitive 40-yard dashes was significant (p < 0.05) for women (r = -0.45 and = 0.44, respectively) but not for men (r = -0.10 and 0.10, respectively). Electronic times (5.70 +/- 0.54 seconds) were not significantly different from 1 hand-timer (5.71 +/- 0.56 seconds) but were significantly faster than the other 2 timers (5.80 +/- 0.58 and 5.82 +/- 0.57 seconds). Averaging the 3 hand times (5.78 +/- 0.56 seconds) for comparison with the electronic timing (5.70 +/- 0.54 seconds) produced a high correlation (r = 0.96) but a significantly slower time (p < 0.05). A competitive environment does not appear to improve short sprint times in either men or women. In addition, hand timing may not always produce faster times compared to electronic timing.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association