Small and Speedy

[Note by Seth C, 05/23/11 7:57 AM CDT ] Interesting thoughts as to how to measure the force of a player. Good stuff. Bumped to the front page.

Tuberville has claimed on multiple occasions that he wants more speed on the field. The idea is that you can’t coach speed, but you can coach technique. In my mind, one of the chief worries of this philosophy is that these smaller, faster players will be overpowered by the bigger, stronger counterparts on the opposite side of the ball. Big wide receivers will dominate the smaller cornerbacks; defensive lines will stuff the small, speedy running backs at the goal line.

To my knowledge, there is not any sort of metric that combines speed and size in any sport. In physics, there is. The derived unit of “Force”, as we remember from High School physics, is the mass multiplied by the acceleration. Knowing a player’s weight and 40 yard dash time, we can actually look at the amount of force a player can generate. If there are any math questions, I can give a more detailed calculation report.

Clearly, there are limitations. For lineman, shorter bursts are much more important. A 10 yard dash would be much more appropriate for these measurements. This can be minimized by grouping positional groups together. This is also a purely physical measurement and does not include reaction times, recognition abilities, or technique. With this in mind, we can look at a few examples.

Ignoring the boring technical details (which I will provide on request), we find that a 150 lb player running a 5.2s 40 yard dash will create about 665 lbs of force and a 350 lb running a 4.1s 40 yard dash will create about 2500 lbs of force. A 210 lb player who runs a 4.6s 40 yard dash generates about 1200 lbs of force. This is the force generated just by the act of running and it does not reflect the true impact that you might capture on Sports Science. For a constant speed, the force generated will increase anywhere from 45 to 70 pounds for every 10 pounds of weight added.

To see how this affects us, let’s look at the example of taking a safety and converting him to a linebacker. Then we’ll compare it to an average linebacker. Let’s say our safety is 210 lbs and runs a 4.5s 40. He will generate about 1240lb of force. Our linebacker will weigh 230 and run a 4.7s 40, He will produce 1260lb’s of force. This is nearly identical! This relationship is almost linear. As a rule of thumb, you could approximate that every tenth of a second in the 40 yard dash is equivalent to 10 lbs of weight.

Regarding recruit Jace Amaro, he truly is a special kid. With a 4.53s 40 yard dash, weighing 235 lbs; this is equivalent to a 195 lb player running a 4.1s 40 yard dash. It really is an unbelievable combination of size and speed for a high school senior. I am truly excited to see what a college weight room will turn him into.

It is clear to me that Tuberville is keenly aware of the power of speed. A player who is faster can create the same forces that a heavier, slower player can. Their speed becomes a form of strength they might otherwise be lacking. This principle makes intrinsic sense. Getting hit with a fast moving tennis ball will certainly hurt more than getting hit with a slow pitch softball. Tuberville is recruiting speed and we should all be excited about it. Texas Tech football is headed in a positive direction.

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