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Physics of Dunking

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Cvankerkhove

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There is plenty of physics when it comes to playing basketball, from shooting a three pointer to dunking. In this blog I will assess the physics behind dunking a basketball. 

First off, you probably have to be a decent height, the shorter you are, the more force your legs will need to provide. Having a high vertical is the most important thing, however, for example Michael Jordan, one of the greatest dunkers of all time, had a 40 inch (1m) vertical. Now the initial velocity needed to reach this height (with the acceleration due to gravity at 10 m/s) is 4.47 m/s. Assuming the force your legs provide is over a time of .5 seconds, the acceleration is about 9 m/s. Given that Jordan was 100 kg, the normal force provided by the ground (created by his legs) is approximately 900 N! Clearly, there is some strong force required to jump and dunk, which is why you should never skip leg day, but more physics behind leg day another day. 

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