Single Leg Hop Testing

When are you ready to return to sports?

Woman hopping on road

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Single leg hop tests are a method that your physical therapist (PT) or doctor may use as part of the criteria to determine your ability to return to high-level athletics following knee surgery. They are commonly used during the return to function phase in an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rehabilitation protocol to assess the functional stability of your knee.

There are various methods used to administer the single leg hop tests. Some methods involve hopping in a straight line, others assess diagonal hopping, and some assess hopping on one leg for distance.

Who Should Perform Single Leg Hop Testing?

Single leg hop testing is typically given to patients who have recovered from ACL surgery and wish to return to high-level sports that require running, stopping and starting, and cutting maneuvers, typically administered by their PT. Those who haven't had surgery but would like an evaluation to return to sports may perform single leg hop testing as part of their assessment. Of course, you should check with your doctor or PT before starting any rehabilitation program or testing to be sure that you are ready to impart such forces around your knee.

In general, your reported pain level in your knee should be 0/10 (where 0 is no pain and 10 is an excruciating pain). You should also have a full range of motion (ROM) in your knee and the strength of your quadriceps and hamstrings should be good. A negative anterior drawer test should also be present, indicating an intact ACL.

How to Perform Single Leg Hop Testing

Single leg hop testing must always be supervised by a PT. After warming up and stretching, here's what you can expect during each type of test:

Single Leg Hop

  1. Stand on one foot with your toes behind a line marked on the floor.
  2. Hop forward as far as possible, landing on the same foot from which you took off.
  3. Your PT will measure and record the distance you hopped in centimeters (cm).
  4. Repeat the test two times for both legs; your PT will record the distance you were able to hop each time.

Single Leg Triple Hop

  1. Stand on one foot with your toes behind a line marked on the floor.
  2. Hop forward as far as possible for three consecutive hops.
  3. Your PT will measure and record the distance you hopped in centimeters.
  4. Repeat the test two times for both legs; your PT will record the distance hopped each time.

Single Leg Diagonal Triple Hop

  1. Your PT will mark a line on the floor that is about six meters long.
  2. Stand on one foot and hop forward and over the line.
  3. Continue hopping in a zig-zag pattern over the line for three hops.
  4. Your PT will record the distance you were able to hop with both your injured leg and your uninjured leg.

Timed Single Leg Hop Over 6 Meters

  1. Stand on one foot with the six-meter line extending out in front of you.
  2. Hop as quickly as you can on one foot until you reach the end of the six meters.
  3. Your PT will record the time it takes for you to hop six meters on one foot.

Determining the Results

The results of the single leg hop tests are compared to accepted norms at four months and six months after ACL surgery. Be sure to speak with your doctor and PT about your results so you understand exactly what they indicate.

It is important to measure how your knee feels while performing single-leg hop tests as well. You are the best judge of how your knee is feeling while performing any high-level plyometric activity and exercise.

Your PT may comment on the quality of your motion during the hop test. Does your knee collapse inwards during the hop test, or does it appear to be wobbly or unstable? Your PT may also use video capture technology to assess your single leg hop test. 

A Word From Verywell

Single leg hopping tests are a simple, yet effective, ways of assessing your ability to return to sports following knee surgery such as an ACL repair. The tests give you an idea of the overall function of your knee and help you decide if you are ready to return to sports that require cutting, jumping, or rapid stopping and starting.

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  1. Sueyoshi T, Nakahata A, Emoto G, Yuasa T. Single-Leg Hop Test Performance and Isokinetic Knee Strength After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in Athletes. Orthop J Sports Med. 2017;5(11):2325967117739811. doi:10.1177/2325967117739811

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