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Measuring Vertical Jump using a Force Plate

A force plate is one method for measuring vertical jump height. It is usually reserved for use in scientific research. This is one of many methods available for measuring vertical jump height. See the discussion and list of available methods.

About: You can calculate vertical jump height using various measures from a force platform. The height of the jump may be calculated by these methods (Linthorne 2001):

  1. From the flight time of the jump
  2. By applying the impulse–momentum theorem to the force–time curve, and
  3. By applying the work–energy theorem to the force-displacement curve.

Equipment: a force plate, a rectangular metal plate with piezoelectric or strain gauge transducers attached at each corner, which give an electrical output that is proportional to the force on the plate. A commercially available piezoelectric type force plate is made by Kistler.

Instructions: To measure maximum jump height, the subject stands on the force platform with both feet comfortably apart. When ready, they jump as high as possible, landing back on the platform.

Measurements: The ground reaction force is obtained from the force platform. From this measurement, curves of force–time, acceleration–time, velocity–time, displacement–time, and force–displacement can be calculated.

Disadvantages: it is expensive to buy a force platform and keep it well maintained and calibrated.

Advantages: in addition to measuring jump height, there is a lot of extra information available for greater interpretation of leg strength and power.

Example: a Kistler Force plate is used for the vertical jump measurement at the NHL combine.

Reference: Linthorne, Nicholas P., Analysis of standing vertical jumps using a force platform. Am. J. Phys., Vol. 69, No. 11, November 2001.

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