Kw-logo-holiday

The Science of the Slam

Picture of Desmond Mason dunking the ball at the NBA Slam Dunk contest.
NBA Dunker

Ever wonder why NBA slam masters like Vince Carter or Amare Stoudemire hang in the air so long when they dunk the ball? Is it the shoes? Do they have invisible wings? Kidzworld looks at the science behind the slam dunk.

Slam Dunks - We Have Lift Off

Believe it or not, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant and all other NBA players aren't breaking any laws of science when they hang in the air and lay down a reverse tomahawk jam. It just seems like they are. They're actually governed by the same laws of physics as you and everyone else. How high a player jumps depends on how much force he uses to push off the floor when he jumps. The harder he pushes, the higher he goes, and the longer he stays in the air. In other words, Vince Carter gets so much air because he has such a powerful push-off when he goes up for a slam.

Slam Dunks - Holy Hang Time

A jump of four feet leads to a hang time of one second. That's an unusually high jump and as it turns out, most basketball players, including Vince Carter, don't jump that high. A three-foot-high jump has a hang time of 0.87 seconds. That means all the reverses, twists and turns of the slam dunks, like you see in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, take place in just eight or nine-tenths of a second!

Slam Dunks - Do They Actually Fly?

So why does it seem like NBA players are in the air for much longer than one second? Doesn't it seem like Kobe has enough time to make himself a sandwich while he's up above the rim? According to Newton's law, when a player jumps and takes off from the floor toward the basket, the player will come down at the same rate as they rose into the air, as long there is no contact with anything. Vince, Kobe and other high-flying NBA stars make it seem longer because they hold onto the ball longer than other players before dunking, waiting until they're on the way down from their jump to dunk the ball. Players also create an illusion that they are floating or flying by pulling they're legs up and extending their arms as the jump progresses. This makes it seem like they're higher than they really are.

Slam Dunks - Moon Jumping

Imagine if Vince Carter ever played b-ball on the moon! Since an object on the moon weighs one-sixth of what it does on earth, Vince Carter would be able to rise six times higher and remain in flight six times longer than on earth. That means Carter would weigh 37 pounds on the moon, would perform vertical leaps of 24 feet and hang in the air for nearly six seconds. That's like jumping over a small two-story building in a single jump!

Related Stories:
>

readers voted!

Comments

there are 0 comments

Please login or register to add comments


like this article?
Sign up now to get more just like it!

latest videos

F1162521140625

Best NBA Slammer? Vote!

  • Vince Carter.
  • Kobe Bryant.
  • Amare Stoudemire.
  • Lebron James.

related stories

Sports in the forums

blackveilbrides15
I like cheerleading  friend 
reply 3 days
nadialovesyou123
sort of not really
reply 3 days
nadialovesyou123
ya they should
reply 3 days
blackveilbrides15
It is fun 
reply 4 days
nevamind
nevamind posted in Cheerleading:
yeah.though it would b somehow weird 2 me.
reply 6 days

play online games

Hour-of-code-tumb

Codey the troll is lost! Help him avoid obstacles and get back into the computer...

Candy-quest-feature

Your troll is lost! Help it avoid obstacles and get back into the computer.

Fo...

Dragon-dash

Your dragon must return to guard the treasure! Help it gather lost coins and avo...

_thumb_100x100

Shoot blobs with different properties to merge yellow blobs. Your blobs can be r...

1005_cc_kidz_100x100_vlh

Candy's got her candies into a terrible mess, can you help her to sort them out?

Candy-100

A great online version of the famous Candy Crush. This is the best game launched...

_thumb_100x100

Bloons 2 is here! A worthy and awesome sequel at last to our original Bloons gam...

Frostbox_100x100

Explore the world or hang out with friends in your own condo. Get a unique look,...