Physics of Baseball Pitches Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3623 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Freshman  ·  Topic: Sports  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] This drag force is created due to the different air pressures on the back and the front side of the ball. Since it is a frictional force, the drag force will eventually work to slow down the ball. This means that if the velocity of the wind is more, the boundary layer will be peeled off to a bigger extent. This will therefore create a bigger pressure difference causing a lot of drag force to be made.

Now we will look into the spin of the ball. As will be discussed below, spinning the ball really makes a big difference to the pitch. It confuses the batter and makes the path of the ball very dodgy thus making it very difficult to bat. If there is ball that is to spin counterclockwise, this would mean that air flowing past the right side of the ball is at a higher velocity than the air on the left side of the ball. These directions are mentioned relative to the position of the pitcher. The faster side would mean that the boundary layer that was mentioned before is stripping off farther upstream. This derailing of the boundary layer would then cause the ball to go towards the right side. To make it easier, the air on the left side of the ball was at a higher speed. This difference in speeds of air caused the ball to go towards the right side. (Bahill&Baldwin, 2006)

This phenomenon is best explained by Newton's law of action and reaction. The air is exerting a force on the ball in the exact opposite direction. If this scenario is looked at from the batters perspective, then we see that the ball breaks from the left side to the right side. This sort of Magnus force is held in charge for the sudden rising of the fast ball and the breaks seen in the slider pitch and the curveball pitch. These pitches will be discussed in more detail below. As the rotation augments, the magnitude of the Magnus force also increased. Therefore, the ball will go towards the direction It was turning in.

There are different sort of baseball pitches and all of them have different physics involved in them. Now we will talk about different sorts of pitches that are present today.

Fast Ball

This pitch is by far one of the most significant ones in the game of baseball. In this sort of pitch, the pitches holds the ball with two fingers. His fingers rest more inside the ball than on it. When one the pitch, the pitcher is going to let this ball go at a very high velocity. It should be noted here that the ball is released at a very fast velocity. This fast speed therefore gives the name fast ball to this sort of pitch. It should also be considered that this sort of pitch can be done by using different types of balls. When using a 4 seam fastball, this pitch is delivered in more of a horizontal position as opposite to a vertical one. The trick is going horizontal is that it would result in an increased amount of backspin. The backspin then would create a lot of pressure under the bal and low pressure on top of the ball. Due to the backspin, the Magnus force actually works to oppose gravity. This gives the impression to the batter that the ball is rising when actually it isn't. This technicality therefore confuses the batter, overpowers him and thus causes him to swing late. (Frohlich, 1984)

For instance, if there is a spin comprising of 1600 revolutions per minute, the Magnus force would equal to only twenty percent of the gravity. (Nathan, 1997) For a ball to actually rise, the Magnus force has to be more than the gravity. However, the 20% Magnus force does give the ball a hop effect. This would cause the ball to drop about 2.4 feet. A pitcher who is quite adept plays around with the velocity of throw. The two finger approach for this pitch actually fools the batter to quite an extent. In this technique, the backspin on the ball is reduced. This reduces the speed and also the spin on the ball. This sort of pitch thus causes the ball to drop six to twelve inches increased than a fastball. In midst of the chaos and the pressure, the batter usually doesn't see that the spin is reduced. He goes on to think that the ball will come higher and that too at a faster speed. Thinking this, the batter swings over and thus misses the shot.


Another example is the cutter. In this type of baseball pitch, the batter basically turns his palm in the opposite direction. In here, he is attempting to make a somewhat series of pitches which is also known as breaking pitches. In this instance, the more the pitcher rotates his palm, there would be more inertia thus more movement as well. Since in sort of pitch, the actual movement is being cut, the speed is reduced as well.


Sinker is yet another type of baseball pitch. This sort of pitch is most pronounced when someone plays with a wiffleball. It's apparent because this is when the ball would elevate, fall and then curve in a certain way. The way the ball curves in and away from the batter is actually dependant on how the air holes are positioned in the ball. Then again, releasing the ball in a certain wt or spinning the ball will ultimately also make a difference on how the ball goes to the batter. A thing to observe here is that in sort of pitch, the ball is actually released when the pitcher's hand is facing away from the pitcher. The major purpose of this sort of pitch is that the batter will swing and miss the ball. Another strategy through which this sort of pitch will get the batter is that it will become a ground ball. Surely, if the ball touches the pitch, the batter cannot score much. This basically occurs because there is a sudden break and deceleration that takes place as the pitch reaches the strike zone. (Bahill&Baldwin, 2003) Thus, here the pitch goes against the law of physics and provides a break in the pitch. This thus causes the sudden change and the vertical illusion that appears. (Bahill&Baldwin, 2003)

Change up

Since we mentioned sinker before, now we talk about a change up. This sort of itch is like the sinker however there is only one major difference. The major disparity comes here that the palm is moved more out. This pitch is yet slower when compared to the fast ball. A good trick that most of the pitchers use is to keep the same arm for different types of pitches. Surely we know that the speed will depend more on the force applied rather than the direction or the angle of the arm. So basically, in this sort of pitch, the pitches will use the same arm but the speed of throw would be reduced. In this pitch, the pitcher would develop decreased velocity and decreased torque. The pitcher does that by pressing the ball on his palms which reduced the finger contact with the ball. This trick will basically confuse the batter and thus prevent him from scoring.


This sort of pitch will actually change the angle is it makes its way towards the batter. For instance, if the pitcher starts off from his left side, the ball will go on to the right side as it reaches the batter. In this sort of pitch, the arm is bent away from the pitcher. Here the pronation is even more than what it was in the sinker pitch. (Bahill&Baldwin, 2006) As soon as the pitcher is about to release the ball, he will twist the ball like a corkscrew. A batter will thus see the ball move away from him leaving him in a poor position to score. This is a left handed pitch and for this reason the deflection in this sort of pitch is less than the deflection in a right handed slider. All in all, the direction of deflection relies on the direction of the spin axis. The axis will differ with the angle that the player makes during the delivery and how his fingers are positioned when the ball is released. Therefore, we see in this sort of pitch, the deflection is controlled more by the pitcher. (Bahill&Baldwin, 2006)


A curve ball is one of the trickiest pitches in the history of baseball. If a curve ball ends up well, then surely its good news for the team. However, if the dynamics are not carried out in the proper way, it will be that much fun. In this pitch, the ball arches up in such a way that it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Physics of Baseball Pitches.  (2013, April 10).  Retrieved February 22, 2019, from

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"Physics of Baseball Pitches."  10 April 2013.  Web.  22 February 2019. <>.

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"Physics of Baseball Pitches."  April 10, 2013.  Accessed February 22, 2019.