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Physics of Baseball     |     home
Physics of Hitting a Baseball   |   How Do Pitchers Throw Different Types of Pitches?   |   Reaction Time   |   After Hitting the Baseball   |   "Sweet Spot"   |   Physics of Throwing a Baseball   |   Conclusion   |   Bibliography   |   Interactive Baseball Games
Different Types of Pitches
Researched by Laura Danner

Weiss, Peter.  “Pitching Science: Engineers who track baseballs catch insights into the game.”  Science News  9 June 2001: 336+

This article deals with the science behind pitching in baseball.  It discusses how scientific studies are being developed to help improve the performance of the athletes, by studying the trajectory of the ball once it is released.

Sweet Spot
Researched by Eric Gooding
Chang, Kenneth.  “Physicist Maps Bat's Sweet Spot.”
     Rod Cross, a physicist at the University of Sydney, studies the physics of baseball as a hobby.  Cross has located the sweet spot of the baseball bat and says that it is about 6 inches from the top of the bat.  This sweet spot is the spot on the bat where the overall vibrations are the least.  The lesser amount of energy put into vibration of the bat the more energy is put into the ball, causing it to travel farther.  Larry Noble, a professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University, has also found an explanation for explosive hitting.  He says the bat bends like a diving board during a swing.  As the bat is about to make contact, the bat should spring forward to hit the ball with maximum power.

“The Physics of Baseball: Stinging and Broken Bats.”  Online.
     The collision of a baseball and bat causes the bat to oscillate, much like a spring.  This oscillation is what causes the bat to sting the batter's hand and even break.  The bat will break when the ball hits at a spot that causes it to vibrate at it's resonant frequency, which causing the maximum amplitude or vibration.  The sweet spot of the bat is the spot of the bat known as the node, which causes the least amplitude of the wave, resulting in the least vibration.

“The Sweet Spot.”  The Physics of Baseball.  Online.
     One sweet spot of a baseball bat is known as its center of percussion.  This is the point on the bat that causes the least shock to hands when struck by a ball.  If the ball hits towards the hands, the bat is pushed into the batter's palm.  If the ball hits at the end of the bat, the bat pushes against the batter's fingers.  This is caused by the bat's tendency to oscillate around a point when it is struck off center or off its center of percussion.  When the ball is hit at a point besides that off its center of percussion, some of the energy of the sing goes into moving the bat against the batter's hands taking away energy from ball, and, thus, lowering the distance the ball will travel.

Throwing a Baseball
Researched by Michael Kreft

“Throwing For a Curve.” 1997.

     This web site talks about the physics of a baseball when in motion and spinning.  Starts with descriptions of different types of pitches used in baseball.  It then goes on to describe how and why the ball will curve or move in different directions depending on the speed and spin of the ball.  Includes pictures of different pitches and the spin of the ball for each one.

“The Physics of Baseball Pitching.”  

This web site starts with a description of pitching and the baseball in flight.  Goes in depth about the different rotations and spins of a baseball and how it effects the path of the ball.  Has equations and pictures demonstrating the ways this happens.  Then has different numerical graphs of different pitches and flights of baseballs.  (used this site primarily for pictures)

Barker, David.  “Putting Something On the Ball.”

     This web site talks about the transfer of momentum for the pitcher to the ball and how that affects the momentum and velocity of the baseball after it is thrown.  It refers to scientific theories and other examples in the world to relate the theories to baseball.  It also talks about how to get the greatest velocity out of a throw.

Physics of Hitting a Baseball
Researched by Kelli Short

Sakamoto, Garret.  The Physics of Hitting a Baseball.  June 1998.  1 March 2002.            <>.
     This article goes further into the actual terms that are used in the game of baseball.  The term coefficient of restitution is defined as being what happens before and after contact is made when hitting a baseball.  The article further goes to explain how to properly find the sweet spot on the bat when hitting the baseball.  Diagrams are given when explaining the proper way to determine exactly where the sweet spot is on a baseball bat.  Also, physics diagrams are in the article to explain the motions when a pitcher throws the ball and what happens when a batter swings the bat.  In addition, the stages of hitting the ball are broken down in simple terms so that the physics terms that are used while playing baseball can be easily understood.  

.The Physics of Baseball   <>.
    1 March 2002
           This website discusses the physics terms that are involved in the game of baseball.  An example of a term that is explained in the article is Momentum.  Momentum is important when playing baseball because it is conserved while playing the game.  Final momentum and initial momentum are discussed.  Other terms such as velocity and mass are used to further explain baseball.  Basically the article states that the harder the force let out an equal force will result.  The terms that might not be familiar to others are explained in a way that will help a baseball player further understand the game.

Reaction Time
Researched by Ben Dean
"Fast ball Reaction Time." Exploratorium.  <> .
   This site is just an interactive baseball game.

Carlson, Charles.  "Biological Baseball."  Exploratorium.  <>.
    Explains what the batter thinks and how they can help themselves by reading the pitchers movements and facial expressions as a tip off of what they will throw.  

Hall- Newsome, Bethany,   Carlton, Alex."Play Ball: In the Blink of an Eye."  Beyond, Beyond Online, Beyond 2000.                    <>
      Again goes over the time breakdown of what the batter does or should do and the limitations within the time frame.  

Recer, Paul.  "Fastball Feats." The Associated Press.  <>.
    This article breaks down the thought process of the batter as the pitcher releases the ball.  Shows what the batter does or needs to do in certain time intervals.

After Hitting the Ball
Researched by Bryan Lawyer

“The Crack-of-the-Bat: The Acoustics of the Bat Hitting the Ball.” Robert Kemp Adair.  Yale University, June 8th 2001.  Available: /adair.html
This speech explains how acoustics are important to the game of baseball.  Basically, when a fielder hears the sound that the bat makes when the ball is hit, he can tell the trajectory, and how far it will go.  That way he can adjust to compensate.
     “Physics of Baseball: Hitting.”  Kent School District.  1995.  Available:
This page deals with hitting the baseball.  It explains what happens when you hit the ball at different times, when you hit with different angles, and what happens when you use different levels of power.

     “Science of Baseball: How far can you hit one?”  Exploratorium.  Available:   

This page explains how wind is a large factor in how far a baseball travels.  It could be beneficial or harmful to the batter.

     “Science of Baseball: The Scientific Slugger.”  Exploratorium.  Available:

This has an emulator of a baseball being hit perfectly by a major league baseball player.  The user can change the trajectory of the hit, the power of the swing, and the type of pitch that is used (knuckle, curve, fast ball).