Jumping may seem simple on the surface, but behind every highlight reel is a complex process with various factors at play. From the form used when jumping, to the techniques involved in getting those few extra inches; even a person’s genetics are a major influence.
To actually achieve and sustain a high vertical jump requires a strict training regimen that blends weight training and plyometric exercises, so you can imagine the discipline required to shatter a world record in jumping. For most, it’s daunting to see it caught on camera, let alone trying to compete for a title.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the people who’ve held some of the highest vertical jump records have been athletes that already trained to improve their speed, strength, and explosiveness. Having workouts laid out in detail and carrying a deep understanding of the ins and outs of jump training makes the preparation comparable to that of the Olympics.
Unfortunately, jumping isn’t sufficiently large enough to be categorized as a sport, so when it comes to finding the best scores, things can get a little muddled. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific number or person in this field since most numbers aren’t really verified.
Either because of speculation or the absence of proof, there’s always a dispute over what the real record is with little promise of reaching an answer. Not to mention that most numbers can’t be compared outright due to a difference in the type of jump being measured.
So to try and address this, we’ll be looking at both the unofficial and officially measured scores of the best vertical leaps across three separate types of jumps to see what the highest jump is in each respective area.
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Highest Vertical Jump Records Ever Reached
Being that the measuring method of choice for jumping can differ and that each one can dramatically influence the results, they should be compared in separate categories. There are three different methods we’ll be looking at, those being:
• Standing Jump (Jumping from a standing position, also referred to as a no-step vert)
• Running Jump (Jumping after a quick run-up, also referred to as a maximum vert)
• Platform Jump (Jumping up onto a platform)
Each of these varies in their approach, with some of them naturally achieving higher results than others.
To properly identify the official jump scores in both the running jump and standing jump, we’ll be looking at the results of both the NBA Draft Combine and the NFL Scouting Combine for each area. The NBA and NFL both hold athletes with some of the greatest verticals in the world, and being able to use the officially measured results from the combine makes them verified resources.
We’ll also mention the highest unofficial records and go into detail as to how trustworthy these numbers are. Other sports that have high jumping athletes, such as volleyball and the high jump, won’t be included since volleyball has yet to release official scores on jumping and the high jump has a drastically different approach and technique making it too distinct for an outright comparison.
For the platform jump, we’ll be looking at the Guinness World Record held in this category since that’s the most concrete information available.
Highest Standing Vertical Jump: 46″
This method is done by measuring your standing reach, then measuring your jumping reach from a stand position, and then getting the difference between the two numbers.
Here’s a video showing how it’s done:
This is the most standard method of measurement that allows for the most accurate results in a person’s jump.
Official NBA Record: 39.5″ (100.3 cm)
– Kenny Gregory (2001) & Nick Young (2007) –
Both Kenny Gregory and Nick Young are tied for the highest standing vertical leap in the NBA at 39.5″, according to the NBA Combine results in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Another player named DJ Stephens has reportedly reached a 40″ standing vertical, making that the official record, but there isn’t any information to verify this on the official NBA Draft Combine webpage.
Official NFL Record: 46″ (101.6 cm)
– Gerald Sensabaugh (2005) –
Officially, Gerald Sensabaugh has the highest standing vertical leap in the NFL at 46″ according to the NFL Combine results in 2005. This would make Gerald the technical record holder in the category of standing vertical jump.
For this type of jump, there aren’t any unofficial records since most of the unverified numbers fall under a running vertical jump.
Highest Running Vertical Jump: 45.5″
This method is done by measuring your standing reach, then measuring your jumping reach after a quick run-up, and then getting the difference between the two numbers. The reason why this method is a bit more inaccurate than the standing jump is due to variances in the run-up technique for each player.
In the NBA the run-up is limited to 1 or 2 steps, but if you travel a greater distance for a longer period of time, you’ll increase the horizontal momentum being incorporated into your jump, allowing you to reach higher. This is what allows for the insane dunks performed on the court, such as Michael Wilson’s dunk on a rim that was 12 inches high.
Official NBA Record: 45.5″ (115.5 cm)
– Kenny Gregory (2001) –
Officially, Kenny Gregory has the highest running vertical leap at 45.5″ according to the NBA Combine results in 2001. Another player named DJ Stephens has reportedly reached 46″, making that the official record, but there isn’t any information to verify this on the official NBA Draft Combine webpage.
Official NFL Record: N/A
The NFL Combine doesn’t test for the running jump, meaning there’s no information available on this method. This signifies that Kenny Gregory’s 45.5″ vertical from 2005 still holds first place in the category of running jump.
However, from looking at the results of the NBA Draft, we can see that the standing vertical was 39.5″ and the running vertical was 45.5″. Between these two scores there’s a 6-inch difference, and using this information we can apply it to the NFL Combine, and say that the running vertical would be about 6 inches greater than the jumping vertical.
This would put the unofficial NFL Record for the highest running jump at 6 inches greater than Gerald’s 46″ vertical, which would roughly be a 52″ running jump.’
Unofficial Record: 49.5″
This record of 49.5″ belongs to Jordan Kilganon who posted a recording vertical jump measurement test. Kilganon is a dunker best known for his innovation and showmanship, with his appearance at the NBA All-star Weekend in 2016 being a memorable event for many.
Unofficial Record: 56″
Kadour Ziani is an impressive professional dunker who has been on the dunking scene for quite a while, showcasing an insane prowess for dunking. What stands out the most when watching him are his fast hands and high leap.
He holds the unofficial highest running vertical jump at 56″, but this record is based on little supporting evidence, like Wikipedia and other sources have inconsistent jump heights. While Zianzi’s vertical may be shrouded in mystery, there’s little doubt that he had a high vertical when you look at his clips.
Why Do NFL Players Jump Higher than NBA Players?
If you noticed the difference in results between the NFL and NBA Combine, you’ll see that the NFL tends to receive much higher jump scores from its players when compared to the NBA. Naturally, you would expect the NBA to focus more on a player’s jump, considering jump height is one of the deciding factors that determine whether a person is eligible to be in the NBA.
However, even though the NBA is home to some of the best dunkers in history, NFL players tend to score higher than NBA players on a vertical jump test for a couple of reasons:
Approach to training
While a decent reach is required to join the NBA, the training regimen within the NBA itself doesn’t expand on training a player’s vertical. Instead, they allocate more time training for endurance to last the 4 quarters of play, each of which lasts 12 minutes.
NFL players train for explosiveness, which makes sense considering the nature of the sport, which is to perform high-intensity activities such as tackling and running. Many jump training programs will put a large emphasis on developing your explosiveness and speed since these two factors contribute the most to a person’s ability to jump.
Add on to that the additional weight they carry from their protective gear, and that they’re running across an entire football stadium, and you can see where the difference in approach lies.
Improving Their Game
Most players in the NBA are generally tall and able to reach the rim with no problem, so improving upon this aspect doesn’t do much for their ability to play, especially when they’re already able to dunk.
By contrast, jumping statistics are more valuable in the NFL, as they are more representative of a successful NFL player, whereas a high statistic generally doesn’t mean as much coming from an NBA player. This makes it a far less important area for NBA players, pushing them to focus on other aspects of their athleticism.
Highest Platform Vertical Jump: 65″
This method is performed by trying to jump onto a platform with a premeasured height. With this method, results tend to be a lot greater, the reason being that when jumping you have to tuck your legs inwards to get onto the platform. In the previous two methods, reach was used to determine a person’s vertical. In this one, the overall area traveled from the ground is measured, signifying a greater number.
Officially, the highest platform jump Guinness World Record is 65″, or 5 foot 5 inches, which was reached by Brett Williams in 2019.
Here he is performing a similarly impressive 62″ vertical jump:
The previous Guinness World record-holder was 5 ft 10.5 inches tall Evan Ungar, who reached an equally staggering 63.5″ in 2016.
Unofficial Record: 64.44″
Kevin Bania could actually be considered the person who unofficially broken Evan Ungar’s record before Bret Williams came along. His form and execution are near to flawless, making use of the momentum built up through squatting to push himself onto the stack of weights he had.
What’s unfortunate is that he was never verified by
To quickly summarize our findings, let’s go over the scores achieved within each of the individual jumping methods.
Standing Vertical Jump
The standing jump record is 46″ and is held by Gerald Sensabaugh, an NFL player. To be in the NFL requires a certain level of genetic luck, making the pool of individuals that make the drafts more athletic than the average person.
The other part that explains their ability to perform is the training regimen, which works to improve speed and explosiveness. These are the same qualities that influence a person’s vertical, and by training this way NFL players unintentionally increase their jump height.
This also signifies that the potential standing jump for an individual who focuses on developing it could be even higher.
Running Vertical Jump
The running jump record is 45.5″ and is held by Kenny Gregory, an NBA player. Unofficially, NBA player DJ Stephens holds the title with a 46″ running jump.
The NFL doesn’t measure this category, but we can speculate that if it were to be measured, NFL players would likely score higher.
Considering the difference between the standing and running jump in the NBA is roughly 6 inches, we could estimate that the running jump score in the NFL would be 6-inches greater than the standing jump record of 46″, which would come out to about a 52″ running jump.
Platform Vertical Jump
The platform jump record is 65″ according to Guinness World Record and is held by Brett Williams as of 2019.
The previous record was 63.5″ which was reached by Evan Ungar in 2016, and considering these scores are only three years apart, this leads to me believe that the current score will likely be surpassed in the future.
Hopefully, you now better understand the different methods of jumping and the differences between their approach and results.
The platform jump has the greatest results of all three methods, and from there the scores go down in the running jump, and even lower in the standing jump.
This is an important distinction since the context dictates whether the vertical reached is high relative to the method being used.
Sadly, there has yet to be a world competition for the vertical jump, as only then would we be able to determine the highest vertical jump ever.
However, from what we can see, the vertical jump is most certainly an ever progressing area of human achievement, and even though it’s already gotten to such staggering heights, it doesn’t seem to show signs of stopping.