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Ruler Drop Test

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made but in the analysis we need to bear in mind the factors that may influence the results.

Objective

The objective of this test is to monitor the athlete's reaction time.

Required Resources

To undertake this test you will require:

  • Metre ruler
  • Assistant

How to conduct the test

  • The ruler is held by the assistant between the outstretched index finger and thumb of the athlete's dominant hand, so that the top of the athlete's thumb is level with the zero centimetre line on the ruler
  • The assistant instructs the athlete to catch the ruler as soon as possible after it has been released
  • The assistant releases the ruler and the athlete catches the ruler between their index finger and thumb as quick as possible
  • The assistant is to record distance between the bottom of the ruler and the top of the athlete's thumb where the ruler has been caught.
  • The test is repeated 2 more times and the average value used in the assessment

Assessment

Enter the Distance (cm) and then select the "Calculate" button for an analysis of the results.

Distance - cm
 
Athlete's reaction time is - seconds
   
Assessment -

Calculations are based on the normative data table

The algorithm to calculate the reaction speed is d = vt + ½at² where

  • d = distance in metres
  • v = initial velocity = 0
  • a = acceleration due to gravity = 9.81m/s²
  • t = time in seconds

We need to manipulate d = vt + ½at² to give us an algorithm for t

As v = 0 then vt = 0 therefore the algorithm is t = Sqrt(2d/a)

Example

  • d = 9cm
  • t = sqrt(2 × 0.09 ÷ 9.81)
  • t = sqrt(0.01835)
  • t = 0.135 seconds

Normative data for the Ruler Drop Test

The following are national norms, adapted from Davis (2000)[1] for 16 to 19 year olds.

Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
<7.5cm 7.5 - 15.9cm 15.9 - 20.4cm 20.4 - 28cm >28cm

Analysis

Analysis of the results is by comparing it with the results of previous tests. It is expected that, with appropriate training between each test, the analysis would indicate an improvement in the athlete's reaction speed.

Target Group

This test is suitable for all athletes but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.

Reliability

Test reliability refers to the degree to which a test is consistent and stable in measuring what it is intended to measure. Reliability will depend upon how strict the test is conducted and the individual's level of motivation to perform the test. The following link provides a variety of factors that may influence the results and therefore the test reliability.

Validity

Test validity refers to the degree to which the test actually measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions made on the basis of test scores are appropriate and meaningful. This test provides a means to monitor the effect of training on the athlete's physical development.

Advantages

  • Minimal equipment required
  • Simple to set up and conduct
  • Can be conducted almost anywhere

Disadvantages

  • Assistant required to administer the test

Free Calculator

Referenced Material

  1. DAVIS, B. et al. (2000) Physical Education and the study of sport. 4th ed. Spain: Harcourt. p. 130

Associated References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • BROWN, T et al. (2012) Exploration of Reaction Time: Ideas for an Inquiry Investigation in Physics Education. Science Activities: Classroom Projects and Curriculum Ideas, 49 (3), p. 82-87
  • FONG, S. S. et al. (2013) Health through martial arts training: Physical fitness and reaction time in adolescent Taekwondo practitioners

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2004) Ruler Drop Test [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/rulerdrop.htm [Accessed

Associated Pages

The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page: