Kinetics: The movements in dunking

Scott Kunath

Freshman Osprey, Chris Davenport, fluidly demonstrates the kinetics of dunking.
Freshman Osprey, Chris Davenport, fluidly demonstrates the kinetics of dunking. Photo by John Shippee.

It’s not just good genetics that enable 6-foot-8 Chris Davenport to dunk, there’s a science behind the slams.

Frame 1 – A running start lets his momentum carry him forward toward the hoop and gives him maximum vertical velocity

Frame 2 – Hand-eye coordination skills allow him to predict the distance he needs to be from the hoop in order to reach the rim

Frame 3 – A strong core allows him to maintain a strong center of gravity for the transfer of force from his legs to his torso

Frame 4 – Fast twitch muscle fibers are stimulated by his central nervous system and allow him to produce the explosive force necessary to launch nearly 30 inches in the air.

Frame 5 – The explosion of force allows for a faster upward velocity, gravity has yet to take effect

Frame 6 – The pinnacle point of the dunk, all aspects come into play here: momentum, hand-eye coordination, strength and athleticism lead to a successful dunk

Frame 7 – The final image a defender experiences when Davenport slams one down over him.

Citations

The Washington Post – “Why short guys can dunk”
Core Concepts – Slam dunking starts at the bottom
Jacob Hiller – How to jump higher