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Comparison Between Hand and Electronic Timing of 40-yd Dash Performance in College Football Players

Mayhew, Jerry L1,2; Houser, Jeremy J3; Briney, Ben B1; Williams, Tyler B1; Piper, Fontaine C3,4; Brechue, William F5

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - pp 447-451
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c08860
Original Research

Mayhew, JL, Houser, JJ, Briney, BB, Williams, TB, Piper, FC, and Brechue, WF. Comparison between hand and electronic timing of 40-yd dash performance in college football players. J Strength Cond Res 24(2): 447-451, 2010-The purpose of this study was to determine the difference between hand and electronic timing of 40-yd dashes in college football players. National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II players (n = 59) were measured during a 40-yd sprint by electronic timing and simultaneously by 7 experienced hand timers using digital stopwatches. Electronic times were initiated by lifting the hand from a switch mat and stopped by the torso passing through an infrared beam. Hand timers initiated timing on first movement of the player from a 3-point stance. To establish performance and timing reliabilities, 32 players completed a second trial. Interrater reliability for hand timing was intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.987 (p < 0.001). Five of the 7 timers did not differ significantly (p > 0.05) in their timing. The maximum difference among the hand timers on any given trial was 0.19 ± 0.14 seconds, with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of −0.08 to 0.41 seconds. Hand timing (4.85 ± 0.28 seconds) was significantly faster (p < 0.001) than electronic timing (5.16 ± 0.28 seconds), producing an average difference of 0.31 ± 0.07 seconds (6.0 ± 1.3%) and a 95% CI on the average difference of −0.44 to −0.18 seconds. The correlation between electronic timing and hand timing was ICC = 0.985 (p < 0.001). Practically speaking, electronic timing produces the best measurement of 40-yd dash speed, and using the hand timing produces consistently but significantly faster times.

1Human Performance Laboratory, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri; 2Department of Physiology, A. T. Still University of Health Sciences, Kirksville, Missouri; 3Motor Control Laboratory, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri; 4Department of Anatomy, A. T. Still University of Health Sciences, Kirksville, Missouri; and 5Center for Physical Development Excellence, Department of Physical Education, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York

Address correspondence to Dr. Jerry L. Mayhew,

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association