Ready to Return to Sport? At-Home Hop Testing for the Athlete

by Katie Weisenberger, DPT, CSCS

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We all know you’ve been binge-watching Tiger King for the last few weeks while your soccer ball or lacrosse stick has been collecting dust in the corner. But what's going to happen when it’s time to go back to playing your sport and you realize you haven’t actually played in weeks? Unfortunately for many, that may mean getting injured from returning too fast too soon. Luckily, there are tests you can perform at home that can help you figure out if and when you’re ready to return to sport. These are typically used for patients post-surgery to decide when they can play sports again safely, but they can absolutely work for you too!


The following 3 tests are part of a well-researched group of tests, commonly referred to as Hop Testing. These can be performed at home - all you need is something to mark each jump's distance. The goal of each test is to compare how far you can jump on each leg. If you can get within 90% of the other leg, you're in a better position for success when you get back on the field!




Single Leg Hop for Distance

To perform The Single Leg Hop for Distance, start by standing on your left foot. Then jump as far as you can and “stick” the landing. Mark the ground with a piece of tape or an object to keep track of how far you jumped. The jump doesn’t count if you lose your balance, take a step or wiggle your foot around. Take the best of 3 attempts. Next, repeat the same thing on your right foot. Compare the distance on your left leg to the distance on your right leg. Your goal is to get within 90%!



Triple Hop for Distance

The Triple Hop for Distance is very similar to the Single Leg Hop for Distance, but this time you're jumping 3 times on the same foot - see the diagram above. To perform, start on your left foot. Jump as far as you can 3 times, each time landing on and jumping off your left foot. You only have to “stick” the landing on the last jump. Just as in the Single Hop above, the jump doesn’t count if you lose your balance, take a step or wiggle your foot around. Take the best of 3 attempts. Next, repeat the same thing on your right foot. Compare the distance on your left leg to the distance on your right leg. Again, your goal is to get within 90%.



Crossover Hop for Distance

For this last test, you need a line down the middle of the floor. Get creative! Here, we used a piece of tape, but you can use a string, a line in the flooring or some leftover ribbon from Christmas. To perform, start by standing on your left foot. Jump 3 times as far as you can, but instead of jumping in a straight line, cross over the line you marked on the ground each time you jump - see diagram above. You only have to “stick” the landing on the last jump. Just as with the other tests, the jump doesn’t count if you lose your balance, take a step or wiggle your foot around. Take the best of 3 attempts. Next, repeat the same thing on your right foot. Compare the distance on your left leg to the distance on your right leg. Again, your goal is to get within 90%.



If you experienced pain while jumping, were unable to get within 90% of the other leg, were unable to “stick” the landing or felt like you had a hard time controlling stability while performing these tests, you should consider reaching out to a physical therapist. As movement specialists, we're here to help you optimize the way you move so that you can perform at your best. You can also try some of the exercises demonstrated in our other blog posts: ACL Injury Prevention for the Soccer Player and Injury Prevention for the High School XC/Track Athlete.


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