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The vertical jump measurement test is designed to measure an athlete's ability to perform powerfully. The measurement method seen here is an improved version of the chalk on finger method. The device used is known as a vertical jump tester.

A vertical jump or vertical leap is the act of jumping upwards into the air. It is an effective exercise for building both endurance and explosive power. It is also a standard test for measuring the power output of an athlete.[1] It may also be referred to as a Sargent jump.


The vertical jump is divided into two different types:[2]

  • Standing Vertical Jump: This refers to a vertical jump done from a standstill with no steps being involved at all.[1] It is usually preceded by a quick crouching action.
  • Running vertical jump: This refers to a vertical jump after a run up: the last step of the run is used to launch into the jump. This may help to add additional energy to the jump and improve on the standing vertical jump result.[2]

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In general, the standing vertical jump is the one that is used as an official measurement for athletes.[1]

Where vertical jump measurements are used[edit]

Vertical jump measurements are used primarily in athletic circles to measure performance. The most common sports in which one's vertical jump is measured are high jump, netball, basketball, and volleyball, but many sports measure their players' vertical jumping ability during physical examinations. In addition, single and multiple vertical jumps are occasionally used to assess muscular strength and anaerobic power in athletes.[3]


The simplest method to measure an athlete's vertical jump is to get the athlete to reach up against a flat wall, with a flat surface under his/her feet (such as a gym floor or concrete) and record the highest point he/she can reach flat-footed (the height of this point from the ground is referred to as 'standing reach'); fingertips powdered with chalk can facilitate the determination of points touched on the wall. The athlete then makes an effort to jump up with the goal of touching the highest point on the wall that he or she can reach; the athlete can perform these jumps as many times as needed. The height of the highest point the athlete touches is recorded. The difference between this height and the standing reach is the athlete's vertical jump.

The method described above is the most common and simplest way to measure one's vertical jump, but other more accurate methods have been devised. A pressure pad can be used to measure the time it takes for an athlete to complete a jump, and then using a kinematics equation (h = g × t2/8),[4] the computer can calculate his or her vertical jump based on the time in the air.


A second, more efficient and correct method is to use an infraredlaser placed at ground level. When an athlete jumps and breaks the plane of the laser with his/her hand, the height at which this occurs is measured. Devices based on United States Patent 5031903, 'A vertical jump testing device comprising a plurality of vertically arranged measuring elements each pivotally mounted...' are also common. These devices are used at the highest levels of collegiate and professional performance testing. They are composed of several (roughly 70) 14-inch prongs placed 0.5 inches apart vertically. An athlete will then leap vertically (no running start or step) and make contact with the retractable prongs to mark their leaping ability. This device is used each year at the NFL scouting combine.

Maximising jump height[edit]

Vertical jump pdf

An important element in maximising vertical jump height is an immediately preceding crouching action which preloads the muscles. This crouching action is usually performed quickly and referred to as a counter-movement: the rapid bending of the legs and the movement of the arms to the person's sides constitute the counter-movement to the actual jumps range of movement. The counter-movement and the jump collectively are referred to as a counter-movement jump (CMJ). The counter-movement of the legs, a quick bend of the knees which lowers the center of mass prior to springing upwards, has been shown to improve jump height by 12% compared to jumping without the counter-movement. This is standardly attributed to the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) e.g. the stretch of the muscles which occurs during the crouch generates a greater potential for the muscles to contract in the subsequent jump, which allows the jump to be performed more powerfully. Furthermore, jump height can be increased another 10% by executing arm swings during the take off phase of the jump compared to if no arm swings are utilized. This involves lowering the arms to the sides during the legs' counter-movements, and powerfully thrusting them up and over the head during the jump.[5] However, despite these increases due to technical adjustments, some researchers consider that optimizing both the force producing and elastic properties of the musculotendinous system in the lower limbs is largely determined by genetics, and only partially mutable through resistance exercise training.[6][7]

Another method for improving vertical jump height is the use of an isometric preload jump (IPJ). This is similar to a CMJ with the difference being that the crouched position is not rapidly assumed in order to maximise the influence of the SSC. An IPJ involves a crouched position being assumed for a longer period of time in the interests of maximising the ability to isometrically preload the muscles. This form of preload should be considered as being an isometric press rather than an isometric hold. This is because the primary intention is not to maximise the length of the crouch, which would entail a different posture, but to generate increased power via the isometric press which is formed by the downward pressure from the torso onto the bent legs, and the upwards force from the bent legs which resist this pressure in equal measure. The analogy of a coiled spring is sometimes used to describe this process. From this crouching action the jumper then springs upwards, channelling the force generated by the press into the jump. Some researchers have found that the difference between the two preloading methods is negligible in terms of influencing jump height, which may indicate that the contribution from elastic energy in both forms of jump was similar.[8] However, the CMJ is still the most popular method for improving and attaining vertical jump measurements.

Vertical jump and power output[edit]

Vertical jumps are used to both train and test for power output in athletes. Plyometrics are particularly effective in training for power output, and include different types of vertical jumps. In one recent study, plyometric training (which included continuous vertical jumps) was combined with varying forms of resistance training. The improvement in jump height was similar for the different combinations. This suggested that it was primarily the plyometric training which was responsible for the improvement in vertical jump height and not the varying forms of resistance training. Research into plyometric jumps found vertical jumps to be among the most influential in terms of muscle recruitment (as measured by electromyography), power output, and ground reaction force produced.[9][10][11]Fatigue has been researched in athletes for its effect on vertical jump performance, and found to decrease it in basketball players, tennis players, cyclists, rugby players, and healthy adults of both genders.[12][13][14]

Standing vertical jump norms[edit]

This is the vertical jump test scores by gender.[15]

RatingMales (cm)Males (in)Females (cm)Females (in)
Very good61–7024-2851–6020-24
Above average51-6020-2341-5016-19
Below average31-4012-1521-308-11
Very poor<21<8<11<4


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  1. ^ abc'NFL Combine: Workouts and drills'. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  2. ^ abYoung, W; Wilson G; Byrne C (December 1999). 'Relationship between strength qualities and performance in standing and run-up vertical jumps'. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 39 (4).
  3. ^Ostojić SM, Stojanović M, Ahmetović Z (2010). 'Vertical jump as a tool in assessment of muscular power and anaerobic performance'. Med. Pregl. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 63 (5–6): 371–5. PMID21186549. Muscular strength and anaerobic power could be assessed by single and multiple vertical jump testing procedures.
  4. ^'Vertical jump exercises-Vertical jump program coaching-increasing vertical jump'. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  5. ^Harman, E., Rosenstein, M., Frykman, P., Rosenstein, R. (1990). The Effects Of Arms And Countermovement On Vertical Jumping. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 22(6), 825–833.
  6. ^'Physical Potential Mark Rippetoe'. Starting Strength. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  7. ^'Force Matters'. Barbell Medicine. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  8. ^Neugebauer J.M. & Williams K.R., Biomechanical & Muscular Differences in Three Jump Conditions, University of California, 2004
  9. ^Beneka, A. G., Malliou, P.K., Missailidou, V., Chatzinikolaou, A., Fatouros, I., et al. (2012). Muscle performance following an acute bout of plyometric training combined with low or high intensity weight exercise. Journal of sport sciences, 21, 1-9.
  10. ^Ebben, W. P., Simenz, C., Jensen, R.L. (2008). Evaluation of plyometric intensity using electromyography. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 22(3), 861-868.
  11. ^Ebben, W. P., Fauth, M.L., Garceau, L.R., Petrushek, E.J. (2011). Kinetic quantification of plyometric exercise intensity. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 25(12), 3288-3298.
  12. ^Montgomery, P. G., Pyne, D.B., Hopkins, W.G., Dorman, J.C., Cook, K., Minahan, C.L. (2008). The effect of recovery strategies on physical performance and cumulative fatigue in competitive basketball. Journal of sports sciences, 26(11), 1135-1145.
  13. ^Girard, O., Lattier, G., Micallef, J., and Millet, G. (2006) Changes in exercise characteristics, maximal voluntary contraction, and explosive strength during prolonged tennis playing. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 40:521-526
  14. ^Knicker, A. J., Renshaw, I., Oldham, A.R.H., Cairns, S.P. (2011). Interactive processes link the multiple symptoms of fatigue in sport competition. Sports Medicine, 41(4), 307-328.
  15. ^Marc Briggs. (2013). Training for Soccer Players. Marlborough: The Crowood Press Ltd.

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