WHAT IS VERTICAL JUMP HEIGHT?
Before we begin, let’s take a look at what constitutes a legitimate vertical jump.
The vertical jump test is a traditional test of leg power and dexterity.
It is usually performed up against a wall in order to measure the height jumped.
No run-up is allowed and the tested individual simply has to explode upwards from a standing start using nothing more than leg power and the momentum they can create swinging their arms upwards at the same time.
THE WORLD RECORD HIGHEST JUMP HAS BEEN REPORTED AT A STAGGERING 61-INCH VERTICAL JUMP (155 CM) BY KADOUR ZIANI.
That’s more than twice the average highest NBA vertical jump of 28″ (71 cm)!
BUT THERE’S A CATCH!
Ziani’s leap was from a standing start onto a surface that was 61″ high.
That, admittedly very impressive, feat involves tucking the legs up as you go in order to get your feet onto the top.
When we talk about standing vertical jumps in the NBA it’s a little different.
THERE ARE 3 TYPES OF VERTICAL JUMP THAT ARE TYPICALLY TESTED.
STANDING, RUNNING, AND PLATFORM.
In a standing jump, the height of the jump is calculated by subtracting the jumpers standing reach (with their up-stretched arm) from the height they can reach and touch by jumping from a standing start against a measured wall.
There is no question that anyone strong and athletic enough to jump onto a 61” surface from a standing start has an amazing jumping ability.
Ziani is still considered by some to be among the most famous dunk masters of all time.
HE’S UNQUESTIONABLY ONE OF THE BEST LEAPERS.
WHY NFL PLAYERS JUMP HIGHER
So, it turns out that NFL players are statistically higher jumpers than NBA players!
Are we the only ones that were surprised to learn this?
ISN’T NBA BASKETBALL ALL ABOUT SLAM DUNK SHOWMANSHIP AND CRAZY LEAPS FROM BEYOND THE FREE THROW LINE?
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How is it then that NFL players are able to jump 8 inches higher than those from the NBA?
IT COMES DOWN TO TWO MAIN REASONS:
Basketball players don’t really need to have a spectacularly high jump in their arsenal.
THE RIM IS 10 FEET HIGH AND ALWAYS WILL BE.
Even at 6 feet tall (short for the NBA) it’s possible to dunk a ball if you can perform a 33-34 inch vertical jump from a standing start.
YOU’RE NOT LIKELY TO WIN THE NEXT NBA SLAM DUNK CONTEST THAT WAY, BUT IT CAN BE DONE.
As the majority of NBA players are significantly taller than 6ft, there’s really no reason for them to train to be the highest jumpers on the planet.
Most dunks come from a running start and are therefore higher anyway.
With all that added height it would simply be a waste of precious energy to overjump the rim unnecessarily with a record-breaking vertical leap.
CONVERSELY, NFL PLAYERS TRAIN FOR MAXIMUM EXPLOSIVE POWER.
In the NFL, their efforts on the field come in short, intense bursts of anaerobic activity.
NBA players need a more endurance-based approach to make it through 4 x 12 minutes of fast-paced, aerobically taxing action.
Their training regimes are, understandably, very different.
STANDING VERTICAL JUMPS
Keon Johnson had the highest standing vertical jump heading into the 20/21 season with 41.5” (105.4cm)
That is double the height that an average 20-29 year old can jump.
RUNNING VERTICAL JUMPS
While the standing jump is a measure of pure explosive power, a running jump is arguably more important than the ability to jump high from a standing position during an actual basketball game.
As we said, most players don’t need to exert themselves unduly and have a remarkable leaping ability to score from the floor below the rim.
Some are almost able to place the ball in the net!
A running jump involves a run-up before the jump, which will add energy to produce an even greater leap. The better your running jump technique, the more energy you can add to your jump during the approach, augmenting your vertical leap.
This is a much more difficult skill, especially in the heat of battle and with other bodies flying all over the place and trying to stop you.
THE AVERAGE NBA VERTICAL LEAP WITH A RUNNING START IS 28″ (71 CM)
A player’s running vertical jump is typically between 4-9 inches higher than their standing one.
The players can jump even higher if they are performing huge run-ups like the insane ones we’ve all seen on TV. During a tight NBA game that is never really possible, but it certainly looks spectacular in an NBA dunk contest!
WHO HAS THE HIGHEST VERTICAL JUMP IN NBA HISTORY?
The only NBA player in history to win Defensive Player Of The Year while averaging 30 or more points per game. The legend that is:
MICHAEL JORDAN’S VERTICAL JUMP HEIGHT
A Michael Jordan vertical jump was truly a thing to behold and still stands today as the target to aim for. The legend made NBA history in so many ways, and this was yet another.
His vertical jump record was just one aspect of the man’s brilliance during the most glittering and incredible NBA career that most of us have ever had the privilege to witness.
His 48-inch vertical jump height remains an exceptionally challenging target to this day and one that only the top NBA leapers can achieve.
WHICH NBA PLAYER HAS THE HIGHEST VERTICAL JUMP IN NBA HISTORY?
In the 1980s a Darrell Griffith of the Utah Jazz leaped a truly sensational (especially at that time) 48″ and that record became part of NBA history and stood for decades until a certain Brooklyn-basketball-beast came along.
Michael Jordan still holds the record for the highest max vertical leap at 48 inches.
An increasing number of players have matched it, but as yet none have beaten it! He didn’t have the nickname ‘Air Jordan’ and his very own Jumpman logo for nothing you know.
That being said, LeBron James might have a valid claim on the title, with this absolute monster of a vertical leap.
WHO HAD THE HIGHEST VERTICAL LEAP AHEAD OF THE 2021-22 NBA SEASON?
Let’s take a look at the top four players who had the highest vertical jumps in the league ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Derrick Jones Jr.
Derrick Jones Jr. won the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest and is entering the 2021-22 NBA season with a maximum vertical leap of 46 inches (officially recorded by the NBA).
He says that his personal best vertical leap is 48 inches.
That puts him up there with the very best of all time.
One of only 4 players to win back-to-back slam dunk contests.
Considered by many to be the best NBA dunker in the game today.
Zach LaVine enters the 2021-22 NBA season with a maximum vertical leap of 46 inches.
Dennis Smith Jr.
One of the few players who can say they have matched Michael Jordan’s max vertical leap record of 48 inches.
Another who can make that claim and he also made the headlines when he broke the 2021 NBA Draft combine record with a maximum vertical leap of 48 inches.
Pretty remarkable stuff.
Along with his exceptional jump height, Johnson finds himself head and shoulders above the rest (pun intended)
It’s fun to wax lyrical about the feats of athletic players and croon over nonsensical acrobatic dunks but at the end of the day the highest vertical jump NBA scores are nothing more than an interesting aside, or perhaps a cheeky little bet that you can place if you’re feeling adventurous!
NOT MANY NBA PLAYERS IN THEIR ENTIRE CAREER WILL EMULATE WHAT THE INCREDIBLE MICHAEL JORDAN DID
And not just in terms of his incredible leaping ability.
In the modern era of ever-fitter and more athletic young men striving to be all that they can be and make NBA history, that record will surely fall. But those who look back at ‘highest vertical jump NBA history’ will always remember the feat.
IT IS A TESTAMENT TO THE GREAT MICHAEL JORDAN THAT HE STILL HAS THE RECORD TO BEAT ALL THESE YEARS LATER.
When we think that the average person (20-29 years old) has a standing vertical jumping ability of about 20” (50.8cm) it really starts to put some of these numbers into context.
In the NBA basketball world, we’re used to seeing so many gigantic athletes side-by-side that it’s easy to forget just how huge these guys are.
Yes, they can jump high, but they have so much more to bring to the game in the NBA world and there are so many more records to be broken!
That’s why we here at The Jump Hub and NBA fans everywhere are so hopelessly hooked on the NBA league this season just as much as always.