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40-Yard Stance and Start

This is an excerpt from Complete Conditioning for Football by Patrick Ivey and Josh Stoner.

40-Yard Stance and Start

It is important to have a procedure for getting in a good, comfortable stance to allow for an explosive start.


  • Fix, rotate, hammer, punch, foot plant, extension


  • Football field or other surface marked with 5-yard increments
  • Stopwatch


  • Use the goal line on the football field as the starting line.
  • The timer (coach) is positioned on the 10-yard line.
  • Use the call and response routine to get positioned correctly behind the starting line.

Coaching Points

  • Position the line: Place your front foot 6 to 12 inches (two or three fists) away from the starting line.
  • Hand position: Place one hand on your hip pocket and the other hand just below the line.
  • Lead hand: Sweep back the lead hand in an explosive manner.
  • Back hand: Rip the back hand forward from your pocket with a quick motion.
  • Foot stagger: Stand with the toes of the back foot at the heel of the lead foot, feet hip-width apart.
  • Feet: Explode with both legs. The back leg should not go too far on the first step, but you must try to get it out in front of you. Do not step to the side.
  • Head: Tuck your chin to your chest, eyes looking toward feet.
  • Forward lean: Before takeoff, lean forward as far as possible without losing your balance and pause for 1 second.

The Call and Response routine is used in conjunction with the McNair system. In the Call and Response routine, the coach calls a number and the players respond to the call with an answering phrase and then action.

Coach (call): “1”

Athlete (response): “Let’s have some fun.”

Procedure: Make two fists and stack one on the other.

Coach: “2”

Athlete: “Touch your shoe.”

Procedure: Keep your fists together and place your hands directly behind the starting line and in front of your front foot. You may need to adjust depending on your particular needs. A right-handed athlete places his left foot forward; vice versa for a left-handed athlete.

Coach: “3”

Athlete: “Drop your knee.”

Procedure: Drop the opposite knee right beside the front foot.

Coach: “4”

Athlete: “Hand on the floor.”

Procedure: Take the hand on the side of the back foot and place the thumb and index finger right behind the line with the thumb right in front of the center of the kneecap.

Coach: “5”

Athlete: “High five.”

Procedure: Take the hand on the side of the front foot and place it about a foot in front of the line for balance.

Coach: “6”

Athlete: “Hips up quick”

Procedure: As you rise, your back foot slides forward so there is a heel-to-toe relationship and balance in the stance.

Coach: “7”

Athlete: “Elbow to heaven.”

Procedure: Take the balance hand in front of the line, bend your elbow 90 degrees, and place your hand right beside your hip.

Coach: “8”

Athlete: “Run straight.”

Procedure: Explode low out of the stance and run straight.

Read more about Complete Conditioning for Football by Patrick Ivey and Josh Stoner.

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Mat Drills can be completed on wrestling mats or on field turf. Mark off an area 15 Ă— 15 yards. Athletes line up three across and a minimum of 10 lines deep.

Featured Products

Complete Conditioning for Football
Features a comprehensive training approach that builds players’ abilities as well as the football-specific skills their positions require. The accompanying DVD offers step-by-step visual demonstrations of the top exercises and drills found throughout the book.

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