The Sweet Spot of a Bat



An interesting aspect of a bat and ball collision, from both a practical and a physics point of view, is that the batter can exert a huge force on the ball without feeling any particular discomfort at the handle end of the bat. The force on the ball is much larger than the force exerted by the batter on the bat. The batter swings the bat by exerting a force of around 50 lb on the handle. The bat then magnifies that force by a factor of about 100–5,000 lb or so when it collides with the ball, enough to squash the ball in half. Only a small fraction of that huge force gets back to the handle to trouble the batter. If the ball is struck at the sweet spot of the bat, then the batter feels almost no effect at all. It seems almost as if Newton’s third law does not apply to baseball or softball bats. Newton’s third law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If there is a force of 5,000 lb on the ball then there will definitely be a force of 5,000 lb acting back on the bat. How come the batter is blissfully unaware of that fact?


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhysicsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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