The Vertical Jump Test: Equipment, Norms and Results

The vertical jump test is one of the most common fitness tests used to gauge an individual. For athletes it takes on a whole new level because it can make a difference between getting a spot on the team, a scholarship or even getting drafted higher.

The test is also called the Sargent Jump Test, after its creator Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent. And it is used to gauge the explosive power of the lower body, namely the legs.


What is the Vertical Jump Test For?

Lower body power is difficult to measure in terms of athleticism. Sure you can make the athlete lift using their legs like in squats or leg presses, but how much of that translates into the sport.

The vertical jump is one way people can clearly see and compare how much your legs can perform. It does this by measuring how high a person can jump from different starting positions.


Methods and Testing Equipment Needed (#3 is easiest)

To measure the jump height of an athlete there are a few ways this can be done.

1. Using a Vertec device

Vertec Vertical Jump Test 1The Vertec device is a vertcial jump test equipment that uses many small flags that are connected to a pole. The athlete stands under the flags, jumps up and tries to touch as many flags as they can. The more flags they touch, the higher their jump.

The administrators will then subtract their standing reach from the height of the highest flag to get the jump height.

The Vertec vertical jump equipment is what most professional organizations use. This type of jump measurement device is what you’ll see in the NBA and NFL draft combine jump test.


2. Using a Vertical Jump Mat

Vertical Jump Mat 1There is also a vertical jump test mat (or a jump mat) that can be used for measuring how high a person jumps.

Unlike the other testing equipment the mat is positioned under the athlete. They then jump upwards and the mat automatically records some statistics including the height of the jump and the power.

The mat is an electronic device that measures the height by using the time it takes the jumper to land back on the mat. From there it calculates the height and other statistics.

An older and less expensive version of the mat comes with straps that are connected to the jumper’s waist. When the person jumps up, the straps extend out.

The distance difference from the starting point and the further point the strap goes is the jump measurement.


3. Using a Wall and Chalk (simplest one!)

You can do this test anywhere, at home, school, the local gym. All you need is a wall and ceiling that’s higher than your highest jumping reach.

Vertical Jump Test Measurement 1Testing Equipment needed:

  • a measuring tape
  • a wall with a high enough ceiling
  • chalk
  • a stool or small step ladder
  • a friend if possible (makes it easier to measure)

Performing the Test

  1. Place chalk on the fingertips of your dominant hand. Preferably different color from the wall.
  2. Stand up straight next to the wall and reach up with your dominant hand and touch the wall. This should leave a mark on the wall.
  3. Measure the height of the mark starting from the floor. This is your standing reach.
  4. Stand next to the wall and jump as high as possible. At your highest point, touch the wall to make another mark. Warm up before doing this for best results.
  5. Do this jump a total of 3 times. Rest and gather yourself between jumps.
  6. Measure the distance from the low mark (your standing reach) to the highest jumping mark. This is your vertical jump height.

If you are doing a jumping program, you can measure once a week or every 2 to 3 weeks to see how your progress is going.


Scoring and Results

Scoring this jumping test gets the distance you jumped by comparing the height of your reach from your highest reach at the highest point of your jump. The scores are tallied in inches.

You can use a calculator to subtract the 2 heights or if you don’t want to use a calculator you can just measure starting from the standing reach up to the highest mark. Either way should give you the same result.

Average Test Results

When it comes to the jump test norms studies and observations of the general populations have come up with averages for the jump scores. They are divided into those for men and those for women.

For Men 
For Women 
ExcellentOver 28over 24
Very good24 to 2820 to 24
Above average20 to 2416 to 20
Average16 to 2012 to 16
Below average12 to 168 to 12
Poorless than 12less than 8


Differences in the Test

One of the things to know when preparing for the test is that there are a number of variations available. Most of the time, depending on what sport you are being assessed for, the jump test will be relevant to your sport.

For example, the NBA does a no-step vertical and a one with a running start. The first is to test for rebounding and quick second jumps, while the last one is to see jumping ability for when you drive to the basket.

The NFL, on the other hand only uses the no step vertical jump to test.

Here are some of the popular test variations:

  1. Counter movement or no arm movement – most tests will let you do arm counter movement. This means you can swing your arms back to give extra momentum. A few tests will not allow this specially when they want to focus on leg power.
  2. With knee bend – majority of tests will let you bend down before jumping up to get that extra spring.
  3. Squat jump – unlike that which allows knee bending, squat jumps force you to start from a squat position. This takes away the extra momentum and compressed energy you get from bending your knees before jumping.
  4. Standing start – this is what’s called the no-step jump or a standstill jump. You aren’t allowed to take any extra steps before jumping. Typically, you stand in a specified position, bend your knees, swing your arms and jump straight up.
  5. Different number of steps – compared to the standing start you some tests will make you do a specified number of steps before the jump. The most popular are: a step into the jump (one step and jump), and a two step jump.
  6. Running start – this allows the athlete to run (any number of steps) and jump as high as they can.
  7. One leg – this is one of the more rare ones, but some situations use them when they want to assess the jumping power of each of the legs individually.


Back to Vertical Jump main page