Instructors and coaches use the Vertical Jump Test to measure an athlete’s jumping height from a stationary standing position. An athlete takes a first jump test to establish a benchmark and from then on the test is taken periodically (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) to track improvement. The type of jump performed in the Vertical Jump Test is often referred to as a “sergeant jump”.
Why Take This Test?
In sports such as basketball, volleyball, tennis, football and many others, having an effective vertical jump is indispensable to being successful. There are exercises that athletes can do to improve their vertical leap (more about this a bit later), but before any training program can begin it’s necessary to know where an athlete is. In other words, you need a proven way to accurately measure and assess an athlete’s Vertical Jump Test Normative Data.
How To Test Vertical Jump
Gathering normative data for a vertical jump test is thankfully a very easy process. All you need is a wall, a tape measure and some chalk.
To perform the test the athlete being tested needs to apply the chalk to his or her fingers. Then, standing with their shoulder close to and facing the wall (right shoulder for right-handed athletes, left shoulder for lefties), they reach up and touch the wall with their chalked fingertips. Their feet do not leave the ground. The mark they make on the wall is to be denoted as M1.
Next, from a stationary position, the athlete bends down at the knees and jumps with their hand extended to once again mark the wall. This second mark is denoted as M2.
The result you are looking for is obtained by measuring the distance between M1 and M2. In other words, the distance between the two marks is the athlete’s vertical jump.
An alternative way to measure is to use a vertical jump test mat such as the Probotics Just jump mat or Takei Vertical Jump Test Mat, these give immediate and accurate results for a range of measurement parameters beyond vertical jump height.
Vertical Jump Test Norms Data
How To Improve Your Vertical Jump
If you are trying to improve your vertical leap, the best way to do so and see real increases in your jump test results in a short time is through plyometric exercises. Otherwise known as “jump training” exercises, plyometrics concentrate on increasing power, speed, and strength by using certain muscles to exert a maximum amount of force in a very short interval of time. Simply put, adding plyometric exercises to training sessions helps athletes to achieve that certain “explosiveness” that is necessary to have a high vertical jump.
Here is one specific plyometric exercise that can help athletes improve their results in the Vertical Jump Test.
Drop Vertical Jump Test
For this exercise, you need a park bench or another raised platform of comparable height (anywhere from 30 cm to 80cm depending on an athlete’s current jumping ability). The idea is to start on top of the platform and simply drop down (without jumping) to the floor. This is immediately followed by jumping right back up to the platform.
Dropping down from the platform effectively pre-stretches the leg muscles in what is known as the “eccentric phase”. Forcibly thrusting one’s self back onto the platform without stopping or re-adjusting footing is the second “concentric contraction phase”.
For this admittedly strenuous form of exercise to be effective, the time the feet are on the ground after dropping down has to be kept to a minimum (less than 0.25 seconds). If an athlete needs to shorten the height of their platform to achieve this minimal contact of their feet with the ground, then they should do so. The athlete should be landing on the balls of his or her feet without having their heels touch to the ground. If they are touching their heels to the ground to absorb impact from the drop, then this also indicates that the box height needs to be shortened.
Re-Testing the Vertical Jump Following Plyometric Training
It must be stressed that drop jumps, like all plyometric exercises, are very high impact. For this reason, it is strongly advised that the athlete rests for three days between doing them. Additionally, each set of drop jumps during a training session should not exceed eight repetitions per set.
Nonetheless, with properly guided plyometric training athletes will start to see a noticeable improvement in their vertical jump test. Every time they take this test, the difference between their M1 mark and their M2 mark should be greater. This not only gives an athlete greater confidence heading out onto the field or the court but also reassures them that their targeted training exercises are yielding the desired results.