Physics of Baseball | home
Physics of Throwing a Baseball
The direction of the curve or motion of the ball after being thrown has a lot to do with gravity and the velocity along with the angle in which it is thrown. The distance and the time the ball will travel can be shown by the horizontal and vertical motion equations. To find out how long a ball will be in the air for you use Dy=1/2AT2. Dy stands for distance in the air, A for acceleration, and T for time. Vertical acceleration on a baseball would be gravity, which is 9.8 meter per second squared. To find the horizontal distance the baseball would cover you use Dx=VT. Dx stands for distance, V for velocity, and T for time. These equations would be slightly off due to any air resistance or outside forces that would be put on the ball.
A baseball in flight also has to do with whether or not the ball is spinning and the air resistance the ball receives due to the spinning of the ball. If the ball spins with the front spinning in an upward motion, the air above the ball moves in the same direction the ball is spinning. The air passing the bottom of the ball moves in the opposite direction. This makes the air passing under the ball break away or push away earlier than the air on the top. While this happens the low resistance of the air passing the top of the ball has a hanging effect on it even causing the ball the rise if thrown with enough velocity. This type of throw is usually seen in fast ball pitches or when and outfielder makes a throw over a long distance. The obvious reason an outfielder would use this technique is because of the hanging effect on the ball which helps it stay in the air longer and travel farther (Thrown for a Curve).
If the ball has the opposite spin in which the front of the ball would spin downwards, the ball would have the opposite effect. The air resistance passing under the ball would be less than the air resistance passing the top of the ball. The break away effect would happen on the top of the ball rather than the bottom this time causing the ball to move downward at a greater speed than normal. If the motion of the spin was tilted to the side either way, it would cause for a downward and a side to side motion like that of a curve ball (Thrown For a Curve).
Also, a baseball can be greatly influenced by any wind that is present while the ball is in flight and also the humidity or density of the air. Both could increase or decrease the amount of air resistance on the ball. This could cause the ball to curve less or more and travel more or less distances than it would in normal conditions.
The speed and velocity of a baseball when it is thrown receives its motion and momentum from the person throwing the ball. For great velocity it is necessary for the thrower to have momentum and transfer it to the ball. This transfer of momentum follows the principle of sequential summation of movement. This states that the largest body masses move first, followed progressively by smaller body masses (Barker). In baseball, the thrower of the ball represents this principle. The pitcher starts with his legs, then hips, shoulders, arm, wrist, and fingers. As each part reaches its full potential it is transfers along the line ultimately to the ball giving it momentum and velocity. This along with the rotating motion of the pitcher around his leg and the extension down the pitching mound creates maximum momentum and velocity (Barker).