Angeleau A. Scott1, Ben R. Cadwell1, Yang Yang1, & Andrew C. Fry1

1Jayhawk Athletic Performance Laboratory – Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance, Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

Batting practice is a fundamental aspect of player preparation for the game of baseball. The quality of the balls used are thought to be important for quality practice, but there is a lack of scientific data examining the effect of different baseball types (old vs. new) on ball velocity. PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of using old vs. new baseballs on ball velocity. METHODS: Two types of baseballs (i.e., old [³ 5 yrs.] and new [i.e., never used]) were fed through a 3-wheel pitching machine set at 75 mph (33.5 m·s-1), and into a strike zone net placed directly over home plate. A total of 30 pitches were recorded for each ball type. The distance between the net and the pitching machine was 50 ft, 6 in (15.4 m). A radar-based ball tracking system was used to determine ball velocity. An independent t-test (p<.05) was used to determine significant differences in ball velocity between the old and new balls. Coefficiants of variability (CV%) were calculated for each ball type. RESULTS: No statistically significant ball velocity differences were found between old and new baseballs (mph; mean±SD; old = 78.9±1.0 mph [35.3±0.5 m·s-1], CV% = 1.3%; new = 78.7±0.3 mph [35.2±0.1 m·s-1], CV% = 0.4%). CONCLUSIONS: The findings of the present study reveal that there are no significant differences in ball velocity between the two different ball types when fed through a 3-wheel pitching machine at 75 mph, although the old balls exhibited greater velocity variability based on the larger CV%. Further research is warranted on the differences between different pitch types and different pitch velocities. Also, the role of actual pitchers who pitch from different arm slots and in different environments is worth examining since these data were collected in a controlled laboratory setting via a pitching machine. These findings may allow coaches to understand which types of balls they would want to use when using them in machines for batting practices.

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