Let’s say a pitcher throws a ball at 90 mph. The ball takes about .4 seconds to travel to the mound. This gives the batter about .2 seconds to decide whether or not to swing the bat. And if the pitcher decides to curve or sink the ball, the batter has about .1 seconds before the ball curves or sinks, ultimately giving the batter even less time to decide. Hitting a baseball is arguably one of the most difficult, yet satisfying aspects of playing the game. And when you hit the sweet spot, there’s just nothing else like it.
As most batters know, the sweet spot is the best place for a ball and bat to make contact. What most batters don’t know, however, is why. In short, the reason has to do with the kinetic energy and vibrations of a bat. In long, (get ready for the physics) it is as follows:
As discussed in our previous blog post, what makes a baseball go farthest is Force (or Mass*Acceleration). While the outcome of this equation is force, the physical work of this equation happening, or the physical work done to accelerate any given body of mass for that matter, is known as kinetic energy. The optimal baseball hit will maximize the kinetic energy. And this is where vibrations come in. The sweet spot on the bat is the spot of least vibrations (which is why your hands don’t hurt after hitting a ball with the sweet spot). If a batter hits a ball too close to the top of a bat, the bat will vibrate and the grip will try to fly forward out of the batter’s hands. If a batter hits a ball too close to the handle, the bat will vibrate and be pushed into the batter’s hands. Both of these vibrations absorb energy and ultimately take away from the kinetic energy being passed from the bat to the ball at point of contact. Therefore, the sweet spot is the point on the bat of least vibrations, allowing for maximum kinetic energy transfer (and least amount of hand pain!).
While the sweet spot changes from bat to bat, what doesn’t depend on the individual bat is swing performance. With a quality baseball swing analyzer, individual players have the chance to not just collect data and metrics, but also understand what they mean. Fortunately, here at Diamond Kinetics we strive to enhance player performance because we know that when you’re up to bat with .2 seconds to decide whether or not to swing, that’s what’s going to make the difference.