Monday, 17 Jun 2024

Vertical Jump Measurement – Using Flight Time

Vertical jumping ability is crucial in many sports, and there are numerous training programs available to help athletes increase their vertical jump. Monitoring changes in vertical jump performance is essential to track progress. Traditionally, jump height is measured using a wall, Vertec® device, or similar methods.

In this article, we will explore an alternative method of measuring vertical jump called flight time measurement. This method, preferred for testing in the SPARQ rating system, utilizes an electrical contact-operated system to measure jump air time and calculates jump height accordingly. Other methods, such as using a force platform or video analysis, can also be used to measure jump height.

Equipment Required: Electronic timing mat (e.g., Just Jump System), infrared laser system, or wearable devices.

Pre-test: Before conducting the test, explain the procedures to the participant, screen for health risks, and obtain informed consent. Collect relevant information such as age, height, body weight, and test conditions. Ensure the participant performs an appropriate warm-up.

Procedure: The jump height can be calculated using a timing mat or laser system that measures the time the feet are off the mat. The athlete stands in socks or bare feet, maintaining a still position on the mat with equal weight distribution. Upon resetting the mat, the athlete performs a vertical jump using both arms and legs to propel their body upwards (employing the countermovement technique). The athlete lands back on the mat with both feet simultaneously. The time in the air is recorded, and the vertical jump height is calculated using the formula: jump height = 4.9 x (0.5 x Time)^2. The best score of at least three attempts is recorded, with approximately two minutes of rest between trials.

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Variations: Vertical jump height can also be measured using a Vertec® or a wall. Test variations include performing the test with no arm movement (one hand on hip, the other raised above the head) to isolate leg muscles and reduce the effect of arm movement coordination. The vertical jump test is typically performed with a counter-movement, where the knees bend before the jump. It can also be performed as a squat jump, starting from a knees-bent position. Additionally, the test can be conducted off one leg, with a single step into the jump, or with a run-up, depending on the sport being assessed. For further details on test variations, refer to the vertical jump technique discussion.

Scoring: Jump height is usually recorded as a distance score, in centimeters or inches. Refer to the vertical jump norm table for rating scores. Jump height can also be converted into a power or work score.

Advantages: This test is simple and quick to perform. The jump timing mat device is portable, making it more accessible than the Vertec®. Additionally, the jump measurement is not reliant on the participant’s timing to touch a specific point at the peak of their jump. Many timing mats can also be used to measure sprints and other athletic performances. When using the timing mat, the test can be conducted without arm movement, as the requirement to reach up with the arm is eliminated.

Disadvantages: To ensure accuracy, the participant must land with both feet back on the mat, almost fully extending their legs. Landing with bent legs can lead to incorrect and inflated scores. Without a visual mark on the wall to aim for, jump height measurements using this method often appear lower compared to other methods. Some mats may be overly sensitive and produce erroneous results or be challenging to stabilize before testing. Timing mats can also be relatively expensive.

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Comments: The jump height can be influenced by the degree of knee bending and the effective use of arm movements. As with any test, participant motivation can impact results, so it is crucial to provide encouragement to achieve maximal scores.


Q: How does the flight time measurement method differ from traditional methods of assessing vertical jump height?
A: The flight time measurement method calculates jump height by measuring the time the feet are off the mat, whereas traditional methods rely on measuring the actual height reached using a wall or similar devices.

Q: Are there any variations to the vertical jump test that can isolate specific muscle groups?
A: Yes, one variation involves performing the test with no arm movement, which isolates leg muscles and reduces the influence of arm movement coordination.

Q: Can the vertical jump test be performed off one leg or with a run-up?
A: Yes, depending on the sport being assessed, variations of the test can involve jumping off one leg or incorporating a run-up.


Measuring vertical jump height is crucial in assessing an athlete’s performance in various sports. While traditional methods involve measuring jump height using a wall or specialized devices like the Vertec®, the flight time measurement method provides an alternative approach. By calculating jump height based on the time the feet are off the mat, this method offers simplicity, portability, and accuracy.

To conduct the test, an electronic timing mat, infrared laser system, or wearable devices are required. Participants perform a countermovement jump, and the time in the air is recorded. Based on this flight time, vertical jump height can be calculated using a simple formula.

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Variations of the test allow for assessing different aspects of leg power, such as performing the jump with no arm movement or incorporating one-leg jumps or a run-up. However, it’s essential to ensure accurate measurements by landing with both feet back on the mat and extending the legs.

By following the guidelines and conducting the vertical jump test using the flight time measurement method, athletes, coaches, and fitness enthusiasts can track their progress, improve their vertical jumping ability, and enhance their overall performance in sports that rely on explosive power.