Navigation Links
Head-First Slide a Heads-Up Play

Physicist says most baseball players reach the base faster that way

TUESDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- As base runners weigh whether to slide head first or feet first during Wednesday's first game of the World Series, they might want to talk to a physicist instead of a coach.

The effectiveness of either approach is closely tied to the principles of physics and factors like a baseball player's center of gravity, explained David A. Peters, a professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

"If it's just down to speed, and you want to get to the bag as fast as you can, there's a slight edge to head first," he said.

Peters estimates that sliding into a base head first could shave 1/200ths of a second off the body's travel time, the equivalent of about five inches, compared to going feet first.

"Your brain tells your body what to do, but after that, physics takes over," said Peters, an aircraft engineer and longtime baseball fan who's become the St. Louis media's go-to guy for questions about the mechanics of baseball.

"Whenever I watch baseball, I think of physics all the time," he said. "That's the way my brain works."

According to Peters, statistics suggest that about 60 percent of base runners are faster when they slide head first.

But head-first slides can be dangerous, because players are exposing their heads and hands to injury. "A lot of people aren't willing to give up their body that way," Peters said.

Feet-first slides can be hazardous to the opposing team. Baseball legend Ty Cobb was reputed to have sharpened the spikes on his cleats to intimidate anyone who dared to try to tag him out during a slide.

Peters said a player's center of gravity is the key to determining which sliding approach is faster. The center of gravity is the point where half of a player's weight is above that point and half is below. Typically, the point is above the body's actual halfway point, he said.

When a player slides head first, he gains more momentum if his center of gravity is above the body's midpoint, Peters said.

The mechanics of sliding head first give players another boost by allowing them to continue pumping their legs as they start falling to the ground, he said.

There's another option, of course: Run to the base -- particularly first base -- and don't slide at all. It turns out that physics offers contradictory advice on whether to slide or stand, said Alan M. Nathan, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"On the one hand, a head-first slide gets the fingertips to the bag before the center of mass gets there," said Nathan. "On the other hand, sliding reduces your forward velocity. As with many things in physics, it is not so obvious which effect wins out."

So, should baseball players consult physicists for advice?

"I suspect they do not give much thought to the laws of physics. Nor should they," Nathan said. "In the end, the physics governing the game of baseball is often quite complex and is a highly empirical science. That is, we learn about the science of the game by watching the players play. They don't learn about playing the game by listening to us."

More information

For baseball safety tips, visit Safe USA.

SOURCES: David A. Peters, Ph.D., professor, engineering, Washington University, St. Louis; Alan M. Nathan, Ph.D., professor, physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Saint Marys Reno RNs Choose CNA/NNOC in Landslide 64 Percent Vote for 500 RNs
2. Whittier Hospital RNs Choose CNA/NNOC in Landslide 87% Election Victory
3. WaferGen Launches SmartSlide 200 Micro-Incubation System for Stem Cell Research and Cell Biology Applications
4. Wired, Working Americans Let Nighttime Health Routines Slide
5. Angioslide Closes US$8.6million Series C Financing
6. Physician Dispensing Wins In A Landslide Majority Of Enhancing Patient Experience
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Head-First Slide a Heads-Up Play
(Date:6/25/2016)... Canada (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional ... pursuit of success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can ... risk more than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, ... out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control ... use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... Comfort Keepers® of San Diego, CA is excited to announce they ... to drive cancer patients to and from their cancer treatments. Comfort Keepers provides ... life and ongoing independence. Getting to and from medical treatments is one of ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Haute ... Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest ... world, and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Venture Construction Group (VCG) sponsors ... on June 20th at the Woodmont Country Club at 1201 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, ... to helping service members that have been wounded in battle and their families. Venture ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... BOGOTA, Colombia , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma Colombia (AFC), a ... second affiliate in Latin America . ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Guerbet announced today ... Inc.,s Supplier Horizon Award . One ... Guerbet was recognized for its support of Premier members ... through clinical excellence, and commitment to lower costs. ... receive this recognition of our outstanding customer service from ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets ... Volumes: Global Analysis (United States, China, Japan, Brazil, United ... to their offering. ... healthcare business planners, provides surgical procedure volume data in ... with an in-depth analysis of growth drivers and inhibitors, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: