Momentum, Rather Than Velocity, Is a More Effective Measure of Improvements in Division IA Football Player Performance

J. Bryan Mann, Jerry L. Mayhew, Marcel Lopes Dos Santos, J. Jay Dawes, Joseph F. Signorile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mann, JB, Mayhew, JL, Dos Santos, ML, Dawes, JJ, and Signorile, JF. Momentum, rather than velocity, is a more effective measure of improvements in Division IA football player performance. J Strength Cond Res 36(2): 551–557, 2022—Speed, or the time to complete straight runs or agility drills, is commonly used to assess performance in collegiate American football players. However, it is common for players’ speeds to plateau by the second year of eligibility, whereas their body masses continue to increase. The purpose of this study was to track change in speed, body mass, and momentum (body mass · velocity), across Division 1 football players’ 4-year careers (n 5 512). Complete data were derived for the 40-yd sprint (n 5 82), the proagility shuttle (n 5 73), and the L drill (n 5 73) from the same NCAA Division 1 team over a 15-year period. Significant changes were seen for velocity between year 1 and the next 3 playing years (p, 0.05), with no differences between years 2 and 4, whereas body mass increased significantly across all playing years (p, 0.05). Further momentum increased across all years for all tests (p, 0.0001). These results indicate the importance of including changes in body mass when evaluating performances during sprints and change of direction drills. Our results also suggest that using sprint or agility drill times to evaluate playing potential across football players’ collegiate careers may be ineffective and can provide players with a false and disheartening picture of their improvements across their careers. Momentum, which incorporates training-induced increases in both speed and body mass, would be a more relevant and supportive measure of players’ improvements. In addition, the simple computation of this variable, using existing speed and body mass data, may be an important addition to the National Football League combine as a measure of playing potential in the professional game.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-557
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of strength and conditioning research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass
  • Change of direction
  • Evaluation
  • NFL combine
  • Speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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