This paper discusses an exact decomposition of the kinetic energy to determine the energy content that influences the dynamics of unilateral contacts in multibody systems. This decomposition essentially divides the kinetic energy of the whole multibody system into two completely decoupled parts associated with the constrained and admissible directions of unilateral contacts. This will provide a picture of how the energy absorption/dissipation during impacts is related to the variation of the generalized velocities and the configuration of multibody systems. Potential applications of such a decoupling are highlighted.

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