Thevertical jump test, also called the Sargent jump test, is a physical fitness test that’s often used to determine power in the lower body. Compared to lifting objects using one’s legs, the vertical jump test looks at the explosive power that the athlete’s legs can deliver.
This makes it different from being able to squat or leg press the most weight. Instead, it measures the explosive delivery, which results in higher jumping ability.
Goal of the Test
The main goal of the test is to measure how high an athlete can jump which is based on their explosive lower limb power.
The jump height of athletes is one of the measures often used for rating basketball, volleyball and even football players as it is a factor in how well they can perform or be matched up against other players.
For this reasons professional teams and their scouts take the vertical jump scores of athletes very seriously and it is one of the main components in professional athlete assessments like the NBA and NFL draft combines.
Vertical Jump Test Equipment
A number of different methods can be used to measure an athlete’s vertical leap, these are:
- a measuring tape, chalk, and a wall (easiest to do and least equipment needed)
- Vertec vertical jump equipment (used by most organizations)
- or a jump mat (also called a Vertical Jump Mat)
Conducting the Test
Using a Wall, Measuring Tape and Chalk
By far the simplest method to administer the vertical jump test, all one needs is a measuring device, a flat wall and a marking device usually in the form of chalk.
Standing beside the wall, the athlete marks their strong side’s fingertips with chalk. When done, they stand straight alongside the wall and raise their hand straight up and touch the wall at the highest tip of their hand. This leaves a mark that will be considered the athlete’s standing reach.
With the standing reach measures, the athlete can prepare to jump from a standstill position as high as they can. At the peak of their jump, they then touch the wall to leave a mark. Athletes are often given 2 to 3 attempts to make the highest mark they can.
The measurement of the athlete’s vertical jump result is obtained by subtracting their standing reach from the highest mark they achieved on their jump.
Using the Vertec device
The Vertec vertical jump equipment device comes with its own instructions and basically uses flags that the athletes tries to tap. The more flags you can tap the higher your jump.
With the Jump Mat
With the jump map, you strap on a waist band that is tied to the mat. As you jump up the ropes of the device will go up with the jumper. The tape measure will show how high the jump is based on how far the rope has moved from the original standing position.
A more modern version of the mat is a product called the Vertical Jump Mat. This is an electronic device that’s similar to the one above but doesn’t need any strings. I is battery operated and has a remote monitor.
As the jumper stands on the mat and jumps, the mat times how long the jump is, computes the height based on the time and shows the result in the remote handheld monitor.
Variations of the Vertical Jump Test
One of the difficulties with comparing vertical jump test scores administered by different people is that there is a lot of variability with how the test is performed.
Here are some popular methods often used:
- Standstill vertical jump.This jump requires that the athlete does not take any steps and just jump up from where they are standing. This takes away any momentum that they can get from using extra steps, which is why this score is often lower. The NBA and NFL both use this during their draft combines.
- One step jump.This variation allows the jumper one step then jumping.
- Running jump.This allows the jumper a running start before their jump. The NBA records this as the Maximum Vertical Jump along with the standstill jump mentioned above.
- Squat jump.Unlike the other methods where the jumper may spring themselves using their knee bend. The squat jump requires the athlete start from a squat position where the knees are bent. From there, explode upwards.
Note that a number of YouTube videos show athletes jumping on boxes and measuring their vertical jump. The box jump compared with those listed above gives results that are significantly higher because the jumper always pulls their legs up to land on the boxes. Using this method and comparing it to any of the results from the other jump tests above will be misleading.
Scoring the Test
Scoring the vertical jump test is made by measuring the distance between the athletes standing reach, which is the highest point their hand can reach while they are standing up straight, against the highest point their hand reaches when they jump.
The longer the distance between the two heights the better the jumping ability of the athlete.
For average jump heights of men, women, and athletes (basketball, volleyball and football), check out out jump test results and scores article.
Advantages of the Test
- The test is very simple to perform
- It can be done with almost no equipment at all
- It assesses the jumping ability and explosive lower body power of an athlete
Disadvantages of the Test
- There are tricks and different techniques that can be used to pad extra inches to the results
While the chalk method is the simplest, it is also prone to error since the athlete stretches out to touch the wall. This may not always register the actual highest point.