Biomechanics: More Info
How does a curveball
Ask any batter and they will confirm that the curveball
is one of the hardest pitches to hit. Its twists, turns and
power have left both batters and physicists fascinated. That's
because a curveball can curve as much as 17-and-a-half inches
from a straight line.
Although batters who have faced repeated
curveballs are convinced the ball can curve right before
the plate, physicists, with years of research behind them,
argue this phenomenon is simply not possible.
Scientists have looked at the characteristics
of a curveball and have found a number of different reasons
why it curves the way it does. What they've
found is that the actual construction of the ball, with its 216 stitches of red
cotton, has a lot to do with how the ball spins.
Upon closer observation, discoveries
have also been made on how air forms around the ball and
stitches. Physicists have noticed that when a curveball is
with a backspin, the top of the ball is moving in the same direction as the air
around it while the bottom of the ball is moving in the completely opposite direction
as the air. It's this difference in air movement that causes the ball to
curve and ultimately break in a manner that can fool a batter.
that a baseball cannot begin to curve right before the plate because the power
of the curveball is with it from the time of release. It cannot
begin to curve or have more or less power at any given point of its flight.
Physicists suggest that it's probably the position of the
batter that makes it appear as if the ball is curving directly
before the plate.