Does Your Grip on a Baseball Bat Affect the Trajectory of the Ball?

Posted June 27, 2010 in Research, Sports No Comments »

Baseball Grip StrengthI saw this nifty little video on ESPN today about the effect of your grip on the trajectory of a baseball. Nomar Garciaparra gets wired up with electrodes to conduct this experiment. He used to be a pretty good ball player.

Essentially what happens, is this:

  • Pitcher throws the ball. In this experiment it is a 90 MPH pitch.
  • Bat comes in contact with the ball. Nomar swings the bat 67 MPH.
  • Shockwaves from the contact between bat and ball travel down the bat to the hands.
  • Some shockwaves are reflected and bounce back up the bat towards the ball.
  • The ball leaves bat before shockwaves bounce back.
  • Therefore your grip on a bat doesn’t directly influence the trajectory of the ball when hit.
  • … with a couple possible exceptions.

I think they mention that the vibrations return from the hands just .0001 ms after the ball leaves the bat (or something like that, I forget… watch the video), and they did mention that the answer might be different if a player chokes up on the bat. If you ask me, the answer to this question is more of a ‘maybe’ rather than a resounding ‘no’.

I still have a few questions about this experiment:

  • What if the pitch is a 65 MPH knuckle ball?
  • What if it’s a 101 MPH fastball?
  • What if the batter swings the bat faster or slower than 67 MPH?
  • What about aluminum bats?
  • How does the size and weight of the bat affect the result?

What do you think?

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