Could baseball players learn more from physics class than spring training?


Physics and Baseball Training
San Francisco Giants' second baseman Jeff Kent bunts the ball during 2001 spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.
San Francisco Giants' second baseman Jeff Kent bunts the ball during 2001 spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz.
­AP Photo/Eric Risberg

­So, could a baseball player learn more from physics class than spring training? The answer isn't a matter of choosing one or the other, but rather in applying a useful understanding of physics to the training a baseball player endures. Physics can help maximize the effectiveness of exercise and provide a framework for critiquing and improving technique.

That being said, baseball players often stress the dangers of overthinking on the field as well. Remember, batters have mere seconds in which to read a pitch and decide how to swing. That doesn't leave a lot of time for mental calculation. Training has to kick in at some point, as well as eyesight and good old-fashioned player confidence. Some players even insist that the least intelligent batters score the highest batting averages [source: CNET TV].

Ultimately, as with any sport, baseball players and their trainers have to hit a balance between technology and tradition. With all due respect to physicists, it's one thing to understand the physical laws that underline an effective pitch, another to duplicate them. Likewise, as we explored on the last page, sheer bat velocity doesn't count for very much if the player doesn't have the time to channel it into a hit.

­There's an old saying about "working smart, not hard." In baseball, as in life, the advantage is in achieving a balance of both.

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Sources

  • Haake, Steve. "Physics and the Olympics: Physics, technology and the Olympics." Physics World. September 2000.
  • "A Love of the Game: The Physics of Pitching." Seed Science Center. 2008. (Feb. 2, 2009)http://www.seed.slb.com/en/scictr/watch/baseball/physics.htm
  • Gregory, Sean. "Is Spring Training a Waste of Time?" TIME Magazine. March 2, 2007. (Feb. 2, 2009)http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1595652,00.html
  • Lund, Robin J. "Training the baseball hitter: What does research say?" The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. March 1, 2005.
  • "The Physics of Baseball." CNET News. April 8, 2008. (Feb. 2, 2009)http://cnettv.cnet.com/2001-1_53-50001775.html
  • Walter, Bernie. "Hitting Mechanics." Coach and Athletic Director. August 2008.

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