• Introduction
  • The basics of the broad jump
  • Equipment needed
  • Conducting the test
  • Interpreting the results
  • Final thoughts
  • Bibliography
  • Plyometric training: short explosive exercises that utilize the stretch-shortening cycle (quick jumps etc.)
  • Rate of force development: a measure of explosive strength.
  • Stretch-shortening cycle: an action where a muscle lengthens before contracting to utilize elastic energy.

Introduction

Several studies have shown a clear relationship between rate of force development and multiple components of physical performance, such as jumping, sprinting, throwing, weightlifting, and quick changes in direction. Therefore, power is frequently regarded as the most important component in athletic performance. Because of this, most training programs aim to augment peak power at specific times of the season (e.g. a major competition), allowing for better performance when it matters the most. Interestingly, peak power may also be beneficial for endurance athletes especially during the final sprint of a race. Studies have also hinted that the average power output during a long-distance event may have a strong impact on the outcome of the race.

Not only is rate of force development an integral component in anaerobic and aerobic performance, it can also be used to differentiate athletic performance. With this in mind, several different protocols have been designed – each with their own purpose an specific use. In most situations, these tests resemble the demands of a specific activity, allowing for monitoring progress in training or rehabilitation. Some tests, such as the broad jump test, may also be used as a reliable way to assess general muscular fitness.

This post focuses on the standing broad jump test, and explains how to safely conduct it for different training groups.

The basics of the broad jump

The standing broad jump (SBJ), also known as a standing long jump (SLJ) is a field test used for measuring lower body power and the subject’s ability to produce force in a horizontal direction. The broad jump test has long been a mainstay in several physical performance batteries, such as the Eurofit fitness testing battery, and the NFL combine. Interestingly, standing long-jump was also an Olympic event from 1900 to 1912.

The broad jump test consists of jumping from a standing position as far as possible before landing into a sand pit. Alternatively, the test can also be conducted on a solid surface. However, this also reduces the accuracy of the test since the participant often slides on the surface during landing. Due to its time- and cost-efficient nature, the broad jump is widely used by trainers and practitioners as a means to measure and predict anaerobic power. This, on the other hand, can be used for talent identification and athletic development. Furthermore, broad jump performance is correlated to lean muscle mass of the lower limbs, trunk, and upper limbs. Interestingly, there appears to be a stronger correlation between trunk and upper limb lean mass and jump distance. 

It has been reported that broad jump distance is dependent on the speed and angle of movement of the subject’s center of gravity. Therefore, increasing the speed of movement at the center of gravity, maintaining a forward tilt at the hips (anterior tilt) during takeoff, and pulling the thighs in when landing are considered key components of the standing long jump technique. Studies have also showed that arm swinging during the test generates more work in the upper body, and transfers more energy to the lower limbs. Similarly, as the arms swing beyond their horizontal position, the vertical forces on the shoulders turn into upward forces acting on the trunk. Together, this swing and recoil can significantly improve the displacement of the subject’s center of gravity to both the vertical and horizontal directions. These findings indicate that the broad jump requires a certain degree of technique and coordination to execute effectively. For accurate and consistent results, it is advised that subjects are well-informed on the allowed technique.

Although the broad jump is mainly used to measure flight distance, it can also be used to assesses a combination of three components related to physical performance. These include 1) the take-off distance (the horizontal distance between the take-off line and the jumper’s centre of mass at the time of take-off), 2) the flight distance (horizontal distance travelled by the center of mass in the air), and 3) the landing distance (the distance between the centre of mass and the heels at the time of landing).

Overall, the standing broad jump is considered the most valid and reliable muscular fitness field test for children and adolescents. Additionally, it has also been successfully applied to measure lower body power. Due to being easy to conduct and less reliant on complicated equipment or highly specialized areas, the broad jump is considered a versatile and time-efficient test for trainers and athletes of all levels.

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The Broad Jump Test


The subject jumps horizontally as far as possible and lands in a sandpit or hard surface with both feet.The participant may choose their own squat depth and freely swing their arms for more amplitude.The distance is measured (in centimeters) from the edge of the starting line to the nearest impression made by the subject.The test is performed three times with a five-minute rest between each attempt.The longest recorded distance can be used to compare the subject's result to normative data.The test effectively measures muscular fitness and lower body power.

Equipment needed

In order to safely and accurately conduct the standing broad jump test, the following equipment is needed:

  • Test area that is safe, consistent, and offers reliable results (i.e. gym or laboratory setting. Preferably non-slip floor with a soft landing area).
  • Measuring tape.
  • Sheet for recording and tracking performance.

All measurements should be performed in a consistent environment that is protected from hindering conditions such as bad weather, slippery surface, etc. An inconsistent test setting may result in inconsistent data and lower reliability.

Conducting the test

The broad jump test begins with a brief (~5min) general warmup incorporating all muscle groups used in the test. This warms up the muscles, increases range of motion (ROM), and increases the neural activation of the muscles. This should, in theory, improve the subject’s performance in the upcoming test. Interestingly, a comparison of four warmup methods (1. high resistance, low repetition squats, 2. high power, low repetition squats, 3) static stretching, and 4) no activity) showed little difference in broad jump performance when the aforementioned routines were used prior to testing. Although a general warmup is often recommended for physical testing, the standing broad jump test does not have an official standardized warmup method.

Once the subject is warmed up, and the assessors are ready, the test is ready to be conducted. The test itself consist of the following steps:

  • Before testing, perform a health risk screening to identify people who may have medical conditions putting them at a higher health risk during physical activity.
  • Obtain informed consent if needed (i.e. when working with underaged subjects).
  • Prepare forms and take notes on basic information (gender, age, height, weight, test conditions, etc.).
  • Calibrate the equipment to ensure testing accuracy
  • Make sure the takeoff point is clearly visible.
  • Make sure the sandbox is smooth in order to show any impression made by the test subject.
    • Note: if performed on a hard floor, a mat is recommended to prevent sliding.
  • The subject is instructed to stand in the starting position with their heel on the starting line and their feet parallel.
  • The subject is instructed to jump horizontally as far as possible and lands in the sandpit with both feet.
    • Note: no indication regarding leg or arm movement should be given. The participants may choose their own squat depth and freely swing their arms for more amplitude.
  • The assessor measures the distance (in centimeters) from the edge of the starting line to the nearest impression made by the subject in the sandpit, or other landing surface.
  • The test is performed three times with a five-minute rest between each attempt.
  • The longest recorded distance is used to assess the subject’s power output.

Once the best score of three attempts has been recorded, the results can be compared to the standardized tables below.

Interestingly, there seems to be no major difference in jumping performance between males and females from 6 to 12 years of age. However, from 13 to 18 years of age, significant performance differences have been found between genders, with males outperforming females in jumping distance. This is likely a combination of physiological (boys displaying faster increase of steroid hormones, growth hormone and bone mineral content), as well as social environment (accessibility, opportunity, motivation, external expectations, etc.) factors. 

Interpreting the results

Broad jump performance is linked to several components of athletic performance, such as sprinting, jumping, and overall muscular fitness. Due to these reported benefits, trainers and practitioners have a simple tool to measure the subject’s athletic performance. This data can then be used to track the progress of individual athletes, as well as predict their future performance. These, on the other hand, are useful tools when creating new training programs (volume, intensity, imbalances, etc.) or when scouting for new talent.

It is also advised that both the subject and the trainer keep their own log of training records (i.e. training diary). This allows for further analysis of previous training and its imposed physical demands. All of which offer crucial information for the next phase of a periodized training program.

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Final thoughts

The broad jump test (also known as the standing long jump test) is a reliable and commonly used method for assessing lower-body power. This allows trainers and practitioners to develop new, more effective training programs for athletes at different stages of their training program.

Studies have found a strong correlation between broad jump and 1RM squat performance. Lower body strength is considered a key component in jumping horizontally, and should therefore be of high priority in a periodized training program. As with other explosive movements, the broad jump can be also improved via plyometric training (explosive jump exercises utilizing the stretch-shortening cycle). Similarly, power-based strength training  (i.e. Olympic lifts, etc.) also produce substantial power output, which can translate to better performance in broad jump and other exercises.

Did you learn anything new about the broad jump test? Let us know in the comments below.

Bibliography

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  • Dietze-Hermosa M, Montalvo S, Gonzalez MP, Rodriguez S, Cubillos NR, Dorgo S. Association and Predictive Ability of Jump Performance with Sprint Profile of Collegiate Track and Field Athletes. Sports Biomech. 2021 Nov 25:1-20. doi: 10.1080/14763141.2021.2000022. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34818989.
  • Koch AJ, O'Bryant HS, Stone ME, Sanborn K, Proulx C, Hruby J, Shannonhouse E, Boros R, Stone MH. Effect of warm-up on the standing broad jump in trained and untrained men and women. J Strength Cond Res. 2003 Nov;17(4):710-4. doi: 10.1519/1533-4287(2003)017<0710:eowots>2.0.co;2. PMID: 14636087.
  • Krishnan A, Sharma D, Bhatt M, Dixit A, Pradeep P. Comparison between Standing Broad Jump test and Wingate test for assessing lower limb anaerobic power in elite sportsmen. Med J Armed Forces India. 2017 Apr;73(2):140-145. doi: 10.1016/j.mjafi.2016.11.003. Epub 2016 Dec 23. PMID: 28924314; PMCID: PMC5592264.
  • Moresi MP, Bradshaw EJ, Greene D, Naughton G. The assessment of adolescent female athletes using standing and reactive long jumps. Sports Biomech. 2011 Jun;10(2):73-84. doi: 10.1080/14763141.2011.569564. PMID: 21834392.
  • Nakai Y, Usumoto Y, Takeshita Y. The Effects of Regional Muscle Strength and Mass on Standing Long Jump Performance. Muscles. 2024; 3(1):60-70. https://doi.org/10.3390/muscles3010007.
  • Thomas E, Petrigna L, Tabacchi G, Teixeira E, Pajaujiene S, Sturm DJ, Sahin FN, Gómez-López M, Pausic J, Paoli A, Alesi M, Bianco A. Percentile values of the standing broad jump in children and adolescents aged 6-18 years old. Eur J Transl Myol. 2020 Jun 17;30(2):9050. doi: 10.4081/ejtm.2019.9050. PMID: 32782766; PMCID: PMC7385687.
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