Wandering With Wayne

by Wayne Dodson

Softball Hitting Science Part 2

In part 1, using Newton's Second Law of Motion, we saw that once a bat is purchased the value of M in the formula F=MA remains constant for as long as you own the bat. Therefore the only way to increase F (force) also known as Exit Velocity (EV) is by increasing the acceleration (A) of the bat swing. That accomplishment is entirely in your hands (yes I did) and we will see how this is done shortly.

But first, to get a feel for the concepts of acceleration and bat speed, here are a couple of examples: 

Bat Speed (BS) and EV can be measured electronically: 

We can see there is a difference between Stanton’s BS and EV. You now know the contributing factor to the difference is the mass of his bat.

While bat mass is a purchase choice and fixed, bat acceleration is a learned skill that will vary over time as development takes place with practice. Unfortunately, it will decrease with age, sorry old white men.

Here are some key points to a good bat swing: 

Take these ideas of good swing acceleration to the field and watch the long ball hitters in our league. You will start to admire the apparent effortlessness of the violence in which they rotate their hips and shoulders to create high exit velocity on the ball. Of course, you’ll see much more like the bat making good contact with the ball, a bat launch angle that sends the ball up and away, as well as a pitched ball arc that must be intercepted properly. But for now, concentrate on their swing. 

Newton's Second Law of Motions conforms to our everyday life. Swinging a golf club, dumping a pickleball, throwing a horseshoe, driving a car, or getting into your cart before the wife knows you are, once again, on the way to the ballfield. But, like all of the above, it takes knowledge and practice to get better.

Now that you know the basic science behind hitting a softball, it’s time to put that knowledge to use with a great YouTube video resource for swinging a bat: 

Ken Van Boegaert and his son have put out over 270 YouTube softball-hitting videos on their Swing Makeover Series website. Many of these show drills you can practice in your garage to build hitting muscle memory. Others will take you to the tee or live pitching. Here are the best eight and if you look hard enough you might see a few of our members. I assure you he does them without science lessons. Baa……Boom!!

Through the past two think-pieces, the science shows the ability to propel a softball does not require Arnold Schwarzenegger-like strength. Muscle power is mostly a part of swing mechanics. So find a bat that suits your ability, develop a good swing with Bogey then watch those balls fly. 

Alas, we have come to the end of our two-part hitting science series. Now I have to go find Oz and Insane (see introduction), they hit the road when I mentioned I needed them for a science experiment.

Happy swinging! Direct all comments to me at jacway48@gmail.com.

January 11, 2024