How the Physics of Baseball Works

Author's Note

I played baseball for 10 or 11 years when I was a kid. I was a competent shortstop and an OK batter, and I loved playing the game even if I didn't understand all of the science. I wonder now, after writing this article, how the game would have been different if my coaches had taught me some of the physics behind pitching, hitting and fielding. Then again, what 10-year-old kid wants to know about the coefficient of restitution? Some concepts, even in baseball, are better left for an older, more mature player.

Related Articles


  • Adair, Robert K. "The Physics of Baseball," Third Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 2002.
  • Fleitz, David. "Candy Cummings." Society for American Baseball Research. (July 30, 2012)
  • Benson, Tom. "Aerodynamics of Baseball." NASA Glenn Research Center. May 9, 2012. (July 7, 2012)
  • Coburn, Davin. "Baseball Physics: Anatomy of a Home Run." Popular Mechanics. Dec. 18, 2009. (July 7, 2012)
  • Cross, Rod. "Physics of Baseball & Softball." University of Sydney Physics
  • Cross, Rod. "Mechanics of swinging a bat." American Journal of Physics. January 2009. (July 7, 2012)
  • Doherty, Paul. "That's the Way the Ball Bounces." Exploratorium Sport! Science. 1991. (July 7, 2012)
  • Glanz, James. "The Crack of the Bat: Acoustics Takes on the Sounds of Baseball." The New York Times. June 26, 2001. (July 7, 2012)
  • HowStuffWorks Videos. "Physics of Baseball Fielding." (July 7, 2012)
  • Impey, Chris. "Potential and Kinetic Energy." Teach Astronomy. (July 7, 2012)
  • Little League Online. "Baseball Bat Rules for 2012." (July 7, 2012)
  • "Official Rules." (July 7, 2012)
  • Nathan, Alan. "Evolution of the Baseball." The Physics of Baseball. University of Illinois. (July 7, 2012)
  • Nathan, Alan. "Comparing the Performance of Baseball Bats." Baseball Analysts. Jan. 18, 2010. (July 7, 2012)
  • Nathan, Alan. "The Physics of Baseball." University of Illinois. (July 7, 2012)
  • Nathan, Allan, Daniel A. Russell and Lloyd V. Smith. "The Physics of the Trampoline Effect in Baseball and Softball Bats." Engineering of Sport 5. International Sports Engineering Association. 2004. (July 7, 2012)
  • Nathan, Alan. "Wood versus Aluminum Bats." The Physics of Baseball. University of Illinois. April 16, 2007. (July 7, 2012)
  • Nathan, Alan. "Working Knowledge: Baseball Pitches." Scientific American. September 1997.
  • Rist, Curtis. "The Physics of ... Baseballs." Discover Magazine. May 1, 2001. (July 7, 2012)
  • Russell, D.A. "Hoop frequency as a predictor of performance for softball bats." Engineering of Sport 5. International Sports Engineering Association. 2004. (July 7, 2012)
  • Russell, Daniel A. "Physics and Acoustics of Baseball and Softball Bats." Penn State University. (July 7, 2012)
  • Solesky, Len and James T. Cain. "The Physics of Pitching." MVP Books. 2011.
  • St. John, Allen. "Should Metal Baseball Bats Be Banned?" Popular Mechanics. May 18, 2010. (July 7, 2012)