Physics of Baseball | home
"Baseball is a game played at the edge of biological time, just within the limits of a human's ability to react."-Charles Carlson
"Professor Robert Adair of Yale University investigated the speeds with which a baseball travels towards the batter and formed the impression that hitting ball was clearly impossible." ("Play Ball").
After the pitcher goes through his windup and releases the ball, you only have four tenths of a seconds to recognize where the ball is, begin to start your swing and transfer momentum, and decide on where to swing the bat and make contact with the ball. Doesn't seem long does it? The total time the ball takes to travel from leaving the pitchers hand to the plate is only 400 milliseconds. Once the ball is released it takes the batters eye 100 milliseconds to register the ball and send the information to the brain. The brain then takes 75 milliseconds to process the information and gauge the speed and location of the pitch. After only 175 milliseconds the baseball has already traveled a distance of 14 ft out of the total distance of 60 ft 6 in. The batter must decide whether to swing or lay off of the pitch in within 25 milliseconds. If he decides to swing then the brain chooses a swing pattern depending on if the ball is heading high, low, inside, or outside of the plate. Deciding on the swing pattern takes 100 milliseconds. When the batter begins his swing the ball is now only 25 ft away from the plate and more than half of the available 400 milliseconds has passed.
According to Robert Adair , " The swing itself takes 150 milliseconds, so if the bat is to meet the ball, the swing must begin just 250 milliseconds after the ball left the pitchers hand."(Recer). Within those 150 milliseconds is takes to swing the bat, the batter must decide within the first 50 milliseconds if he wants to pull the bat back and not swing. After that the momentum of the bat is to great and the bat has almost reached its final speed. "Too much energy is moving forward and there's simply not enough time for the muscles to react," said Adair (Recer).
When considering you do not have that much time to start transferring your momentum to provide power, the game is really played in a short amount of time.