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Different Kinds of Basketball Dunks

author image Michael Hutchins
Based out of Houston, Texas, Michael Hutchins is a personal trainer who has been writing health and fitness-related articles since 1995. His articles have been featured in "Houston Health & Fitness Magazine." Hutchins has a Bachelor of Arts in speech arts from Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
Different Kinds of Basketball Dunks
man dunking basketball Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

The game of basketball has become faster and requires more athleticism than the original game invented by Dr. James Naismith in 1891. Players now routinely jump and reach heights above the rim to dunk the basketball. Basketball fans enjoy watching players dunk, and to please the fans, players have invented a variety of creative dunks. To feature creative dunks, competitions take place at the high school, college and professional levels.

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According to, Bob Kurland, who played for Oklahoma A&M in 1945 and 1946, is recognized as the de facto inventor of the dunk. The original dunks were known as "dunk shots," then later were labeled "slam" dunks. The National Collegiate Athletic Association enforced a rule that prohibited dunking from 1967 until 1976. The first dunking contest took place in 1976 during the American Basketball Association's All-Star Game.

Two Hands

Generally, a basketball player must be able to grip the basketball with one hand in order to dunk. This grip on the ball is known as "palming" the basketball. However, some players are capable of, and prefer, dunking with both hands gripping the ball. Dunking with two hands makes it less likely that you will lose your grip on the ball or that the ball will be knocked away by a defender.


To execute a windmill dunk, you start with the ball down, swing your arm back, circle it around and complete the full rotation by dunking the ball. The motion of the dunk resembles the rotation of a windmill.


The alley-oop dunk is executed with the assistance of a pass from another player. Under game conditions, the player who is handling the ball throws it in the general direction of the basket. A teammate catches the ball in flight and throws it down through the basket. To signal an alley-oop pass, players generally make eye-contact prior to the play.

Foul Line

The dunk that begins at the foul line was first completed by Julius Erving at the 1976 NBA All-Star Game and now is widely seen at slam dunk competitions. To execute the dunk, players get a running start from well behind the foul line. When they reach the foul line, they elevate toward the basket with the ball held high and extended well in front of their bodies.

Behind The Head

The behind the head dunk is executed directly underneath the basket, with the player facing away from the basket. The player elevates with the ball held in both hands, extends his arms and throws the ball down through basket from behind his head.

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