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Feld - Schultz

Introduction
In all kinds of sports today, coaches and players are always looking for
something that will give them a leg up. One of the oldest of these is in the sport
of baseball. Baseball has been popular in America for well over a hundred years,
and people have never stopped asking the question: Is the weight of the bat or
the swing speed of the bat more effective when hitting a baseball?
Many years ago, famous batters would do anything to get the heaviest bat
possible, even hammering nails into the bat to increase the mass. (Russel)
However, more recently, baseball players have started to prefer a lighter bat to
increase swing speed. With a faster swing, many batters believe that can
generate more energy when hitting the baseball, resulting in a farther hit.
Figuring out whether bat mass or swing speed results in a farther batted ball can
greatly impact how a baseball player chooses their bat.
When knowing whether mass or swing speed is more important,
professional baseball players can make the necessary adjustment to improve
their game. If mass is more effective, players may begin to use heaver bats. If
swing speed is more effective, players can focus their attention on improving
their swing so that it gets faster. While baseball is the obvious application with
this information, there can be other aspects that can be improved. In other sports
like golf, players can use this information to see if they can hit the ball farther
down the fairway.
Hitting a baseball can depend on many factors. Temperature, wind, and
where the ball is hit by the bat can all affect how far the baseball travels after

Feld - Schultz
being hit. For this experiment however, mass and swing speed were tested to
see which of the two generated a farther distance on the baseball. These factors
can be easily changed, and both of these factors directly affect the force on a
batted baseball. A twenty-eight ounce, twenty-nine ounce, and thirty ounce bats
were used. These bats were pulled back by a spring to 50, 70, and 90 to
create different swing speeds. These bats hit a baseball off of a tee the spot hit
on the ball was kept constant and the distance that the baseball went was
measured in feet with a tape measure. A two-sample DOE was conducted to see,
out of the factors mass and swing speed, which factors was more significant in
changing batted ball distance. The factor with the bigger effect would be deemed
the more important factor in hitting baseballs. This factor will be found with the

help of a few equations. The equations

p=mv

and

1
KE= mv 2 display
2

that momentum and kinetic energy can be found using mass and velocity, and
can therefore be used to help solve the problem.

Feld - Schultz

Review of Literature
The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether bat speed or
bat weight has the greatest effect on the distance of a batted baseball. These
factors have the greatest effect on the distance when hitting a baseball.
Bats are produced in many different fashions. In high school and college
leagues, most bats are aluminum based with a 2 5/8 in. diameter. What
fluctuates with these bats, however, is the mass. The mass of the bat is important
to consider when hitting because in the equation of momentum, mass multiplied
by velocity is equal to the total momentum

p=mv

(Momentum and its

Conversion). As the mass of the bat increases, the momentum would also
increase, resulting in the ball being hit harder.
Similar to the bats mass, the swing speed of the bat greatly affects
the distance the baseball travels. The bats velocity was based on how far the
swing arm was pulled back. The farther back the spring was pulled, the more
time the bat has to accelerate, thus allowing the bat to have more speed when it
comes in contact with the baseball. The velocity also played a role in the
momentum as shown in the equation mass multiplied by velocity equals
momentum ( p=mv ). Identical to the bats mass, as the swing speed
increases, the momentum will also increase. Because the equation is just mass
times velocity, science would prove that both factors would have equal effects of
the batted balls momentum. However, it is not that simple. As the mass of the

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bat decreases, it would be easier for the batter to swing the bat, resulting in a
higher swing velocity (Russell). This suggests that one of these factors is more
important than the other since the mass impacts the velocity.
An experiment discussed by Daniel Russell, affiliated with Penn St.
University, was found in Physics of Sports developed by Florida St. University
and conducted the effect of bat mass on its batted ball. The experiment used only
changed the mass of the bats used to hit the baseball. The experiment resulted
in determining that a higher bat mass will increase its batted ball velocity. The
result in a higher batted ball velocity is a larger distance traveled as shown in the
equation velocity multiplied by time is equal to distance ( d=vt ). It has been
clearly displayed that the mass of the bat is directly related to the distance
because of this proven higher batted ball velocity. The experiment relates to
determining whether bat mass or bat velocity is more effective because both
experiments changed the mass of the bats used to hit the ball.
Another experiment also discussed by Russell, which was also found in
Physics of Sports, conducted an experiment on the effect of a bats swing
velocity on its batted ball. The experiment changed the swing velocity using a
bat of the same mass each trial to determine the batted ball velocity. The
experiments results display that a higher swing speed resulted in a higher batted
ball velocity. This would allow for a larger distance traveled using the equation
velocity multiplied by time equals distance (Elert). The experiment is similar to
determining whether swing velocity or bat mass is more effective toward the
batted balls distance because both experiments change the bats swing velocity.
4

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Both of the previous experiments were closely related to each other in
determining the same factors. They compare well to the experiment to be further
conducted, but have some differences also. While both swing velocity and bat
mass were changed, the previous two experiments find the batted ball velocity,
while the experiment conducted measured the distance the ball traveled. While
this seems like a large difference, it is far from that. The batted ball velocity
determines the distance that a ball can travel, so these experiments have
displayed important information to help understand the physics of changing mass
and velocity, and help to make predictions of what could happen when the same
factors are changed.

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Problem Statement
Problem:
To determine whether bat speed or bat weight have a greater effect on
batted ball distance.
Hypothesis:
If the swing speed and bat weight are fluctuated throughout an
experiment, then the swing speed of the bat will have the greatest effect on the
distance of the ball.
Data Measured:
The independent variables in the planned experiment are baseball bat
weight, and bat speed. The dependent variable will be the distance that a
baseball is hit off of a tee. The swing speed will be measured in feet per second,
and the bat weight will be measured in ounces (28, 29, 30). The intended
statistical analysis planned for the experiment is a two-factor DOE.

Feld - Schultz
Experimental Design
Materials:
Baseball (5 oz.)
28 oz. Baseball bat
29 oz. Baseball bat
30 oz. Baseball bat
Tape measure
(5) Wood 2x4
(3) Light Bungee Cords

Extension Spring
(25) 2 Screws
Electrical Screwdriver
Door Hinge
Protractor

Procedure:
1. Assemble the swinging mechanism, refer to Appendix A.
2. Label each combination of weight and velocity and randomize the order to run
the trials, keeping 1, 4, and 7 for the standards.
3. Strap the desired bat to the swinging mechanism using bungee cords.
4. Place a ball on a baseball tee.
5. Line up the mechanism so the bats barrel will hit the ball off the tee in a
straight line as shown in the diagram.
6. Using a protractor, pull the lever arm back to the desired angle to produce the
desired velocity and release it so the bat hits the ball.
7. Use the tape measure to measure the distance the ball traveled, record in data
table.
8. Repeat steps 2-6 for each trial. Run the experiment five times.
Diagram:

Sprin
g

Bat

Baseb
all

e

Frame

Door
Hinge

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Data and Observations
Data:
Table 1
Independent Variables
Mass (ounces)

Swing Speed (angle)

(-)

Standard

(+)

(-)

Standard

(+)

28 oz

29oz

30oz

50

70

90

Table one shows the factors tested in the experiment. The mass of bats
are displayed in ounces. 28, 29, and 30 ounces are the most common masses in
baseball, which is why they were tested. For swing speed, the degree that the
swing arm on the machine was pulled back is displayed. The degrees used
generated different speeds of the bat.
Table 2
Experimental Data
DOE

Distance (Feet)
(+,+)

(+,-)

(-,+)

(-,-)

10.80

7.50

10.15

6.75

9.60

6.85

8.40

6.70

10.15

6.70

10.75

7.90

9.60

7.90

9.35

7.55

11.25

9.30

9.20

6.80

Average
10.28
7.65
9.57
7.14
Table 2 shows the distance in feet the ball was hit in each of the trials. The
first (+) or (-) determines which mass was used, and the second (+) or (-)
determines how far the bat was pulled back.

Feld - Schultz
Observations:
Table 3
Observations
Trial
Standard (Run 1)
(-, +)
(+ , -)
Standard
(+ , +)
(- , -)
Standard
Standard (Run 2)
(+ , +)
(+ , -)
Standard
(- , -)
(- , +)
Standard
Standard (Run 3)
(+ , -)
(- , -)
Standard
(- , +)
(+ , +)
Standard
Standard (Run 4)
(+ , +)
(- , -)
Standard
(+ , -)
(- , +)
Standard
Standard (Run 5)
(+ , +)
(- , -)
Standard
(+ , -)
(- , +)
Standard

Observation
Normal trial, ran according to plan
Bat hit the tee during trial
Ran according to plan
Ran according to plan
Rolled into a divet in the ground
Veered off to the left
Ball had backspin, rolled differently
Ran according to plan
Ran according to plan
Ran according to plan
Ball veered to the right
Machine moved when hitting the ball
Took a weird hop, distance was less
Ran according to plan
Bat hit the tee during trial
Took a weird hop, distance was less
Ball veered to the left
Took a weird hop, distance was less
Rolled off to the right due to different contact
Ran according to plan
Ran according to plan
Machine hopped, could've impacted the swing
Bat hit the tee during trial
Ran according to plan
Ball veered to the right
Ran according to plan
Ran according to plan
Bat hit the tee during trial
Rolled in a divet, allowing for farther distance
Machine moved after hitting the ball
Ran according to plan
Rolled in a divet
Ball took a weird hop
Ran according to plan

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Table 3 shows the observations taken after each trial. Some of the trials hit
the ground strange and that could have affected the distance of some of the
trials.
Diagram:
1.

Bungee Cords
Bat

Spring

Baseball

Tee

2.

3.

Figure 1. Experimental Process

Figure 1 shows three pictures of a sample trial. The bat was pulled back to
the appropriate angle, and then released. The ball was then measured with a
tape measure to see the final distance.

Feld - Schultz

Data Analysis and Interpretation

In the experiment, data was collected to see how far the baseball went
when hit with different masses of bats and swing speeds. The distance of each
trial was collected using a tape measure. Five trials for each combination of bat
mass and swing speed were conducted, while fifteen standard trials were
conducted. The number of trials was to identify any outliers and to make the
averages of the data more accurate. The order of the trials was randomized in
order to eliminate any possible bias that would result in inaccurate data. Also,
each trial was conducted in the exact same fashion so that if there were any
lurking variables, all of the trials would be exposed to them.
Table 4
Effect of Mass
Effect of Mass
(-)

(+)
9.57

10.28

7.14

7.65

Ave: 8.36

Ave: 8.97

Table 4 displays the effect of mass on the distance of the baseball. The
averages of the low and high trials were found in order to produce the total effect.
As it can be observed, the averages were similar; indicating mass may not have
had a large effect.

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11
10.5
10
9.5
Distance (feet)

8.97

9
8.36
8.5
8
7.5
7
-1

1
Mass

Figure 2. Effect of Mass

This figure displays the effect of mass on the distance of the baseball. At
the negative value of mass, the average distance was 8.36 feet, while the high
value of mass produced an average distance of 8.97 feet. The high value did
produce a further distance as expected although there was not much of a
difference, as the total effect of mass was 0.61, found by subtracting the low
value from the high value. This means that on average, as the mass of the bat
grew from low to high, the balls distance increased by a factor of 0.61 feet. The
ball most likely went farther during the high trial of mass since the ball was hit
with a greater momentum and kinetic energy due to the equations

and

p=mv

1
KE= mv 2 , where it can be observed that as mass (m) increases, so
2

will momentum (p) and kinetic energy (KE). When the ball has more momentum
and kinetic energy, it would have the tendency to travel farther.

Feld - Schultz

Table 5
Effect of Swing Speed
Effect of Swing Speed
(-)

(+)
7.65

10.28

7.14

9.57

Ave: 7.40

Ave: 9.93

Table 5 displays the effect of swing speed on the distance of the baseball.
The averages of the low and high trials were found in order to produce the total
effect. As it can be observed, the averages were quite different; suggesting that
swing speed may have had a significant effect on distance.
11
10.5

9.93

10
9.5
Distance (feet)

9
8.5
8
7.4
7.5
7
-1

1
Swing Speed

Figure 3. Effect of Swing Speed

This figure displays the effect of swing speed on the distance of the
baseball. At the negative value of swing speed, the average distance was 7.4
feet, while the high value produced an average distance of 9.93 feet. The high

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value of swing speed produced a much further distance for the ball, as expected.
The total effect of swing speed was 2.53, found by subtracting the low value from
the high value. This value means that on average, as the swing speed increased,
the distance of the ball increased by a factor of 2.53 feet. This suggests that the
swing speed may have a significant effect on the distance. The swing speed
most likely hit the ball farther at the high trial because the equations

and

p=mv

1
2
KE= mv suggest that momentum (p) and kinetic energy (KE)
2

increased as the swing speed (v) increased. Again, when the ball has a higher
momentum and kinetic energy, it would have the tendency to travel father.
Table 6
Interaction Effect of Mass and Swing Speed
Mass
(-)

(+)

Line segment
(+)
9.57
10.8
solid
Swing Speed
Line segment
(-)
7.14
7.65
dotted
Table 6 displays the interaction effect of mass and swing speed on the
distance of the baseball. The averages of the low and high trials for both mass
and swing speed together are shown. The larger the difference of the slopes for
the mass and swing speed, the larger the interaction effect will be.

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10.8

11
10.5
10
9.57
9.5
Distance (feet)

9
Mass

8.5

Swing Speed

7.65

7.57.14
7
-1

1
Mass

Figure 4. Interaction Effect of Mass and Swing Speed

Figure 4 shows the interaction effect of mass and swing speed on the
distance of the baseball. The lines have a somewhat similar slope, but not too
large, which suggests that there may be a small interaction effect. Despite this,
the lines do not intersect, also suggesting that the interaction effect would be
small. The slope of the line of mass minus the slope of the of the line of swing
speed all divided by two produced the interaction effect of 0.1.
Table 7
Standard Trials
Standards
7.50
7.65
7.55
7.70
7.50
7.90
7.90
7.80
8.30
8.10
8.30
7.70
8.25
7.90
7.70
Table 7 shows the distance of the baseballs of the standard trials. For the
standard trials, the 29 ounce bat and the 70 swing angle. The farthest trial for
the standards was 8.25 feet, and the least far trial for the standards was 7.50
feet. This gives a range of standards of 0.75 feet. This will be important in
determining which effects are significant in this experiment.

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12
10
8
6
4
2
0

Figure 5. Standard Trial Scatter Plot

Figure 5 displays the scatter plot of the standard trials. The range of
standards was found to be 0.75 feet.

-3

-2

-1

Figure 6. Dot plot of effects

This figure shows the dot plot of effects. It includes the effects of swing
speed (S), mass (M), and the interaction of mass and swing speed (MS). The
range of standards was 0.75. This range was doubled to determine whether the
effects were significant, as shown by two vertical lines on the dot plot. The only
effect deemed significant was swing speed, noted by S, because it was greater
than twice the range of standards.

Feld - Schultz

Y =GA +

Figure 7. Prediction Equation

This figure displays the prediction equation that used every effect in the
experiment. GA represents the grand average, M represents the effect of mass,
S represents the effect of swing speed, MS represents the interaction effect, and
N represents noise. Noise is an immeasurable factor that can affect the outcome
of the experiment. The fractions were multiplied by 1 or -1 depending upon
whether that factor was high or low for that trial. In this equation, the (+,+) trial
was run. This equation is used to predict the values of future experiments. A
sample equation can be found in Appendix B.
Y =GA +

( S2 1)+ N

Figure 8. Parsimonious Equation

The figure above displays the parsimonious equation which only takes the
significant factors into account. The only significant factor in the experiment was
swing speed, represented by S. GA represents the grand average, and N
represents noise. The swing speed factor was multiplied by one because in this
trial, the high value of swing speed was used. A sample equation can be found in
Appendix B.

Feld - Schultz
Conclusion
The purpose of this experiment was to see whether bat mass or the
swing speed of a bat is more effective when hitting a baseball. The original
hypothesis was that if baseballs were hit off a tee by different bat masses
and speeds, the speeds would have a higher effect. This hypothesis was
accepted. On each trial, a baseball was hit using three different masses,
28, 29, and 30 ounces, of a bat. The bats were pulled back to three
different angles, 50, 70, and 90. The farther the bat was pulled back,
the faster the swing speeds would be. Once the bat was released and hit
the baseball, the distance of the baseball was measured using a tape
measure. On average, as bat speed was increased, it had the greatest
effect on increasing the difference of the batted ball.
The batted ball on average went a greater distance when hit with
the highest mass and higher swing speed. The effect of swing speed was
the only significant effect in this experiment. The effect of mass was 0.61
while the effect of swing speed was 2.53. This can most easily be

explained by the equation

A
F=(M ) ) where F represents force, M

represents mass, and A represents acceleration. Since the bat is pulled

back at a greater angle for the higher trials, it results in a higher
acceleration. This equation shows that when both acceleration and mass
are high, it results in a greater force on the baseball. The higher force
would then result in a farther batted ball. Though mass and acceleration

Feld - Schultz
are equally in important in determining force, swing speed had a greater
effect on the distance of the baseball. The equation

KE= ( M )(V )

explains why the swing speed was more effective. In this equation, KE
represents kinetic energy, M represents mass, and V represents velocity.
Since velocity is squared in this equation and mass is not, a change in
velocity changes the kinetic energy on the batted ball more than a change
in mass does.
Knowing what can hit a baseball farther can apply, obviously, to
baseball itself. Baseball players have forever tried to figure out the best
way to hit a baseball successfully. Many players favor a heavier bat, while
others sacrifice the weight to improve their swing speed. Though baseball
is the most obvious application of this experiment, it is not the only one.
Other sports such as golf also apply. Different masses and swing speeds
of clubs can affect how far a ball is hit.
In this experiment, swing speed was found to be the greater factor
when compared to mass. In sports such as baseball and golf, athletes can
use this information to improve their game. Though increased mass can
increase force and thus distance, swing speed was proven to be more
effective in this experiment. Many baseball players can work to improve
their swing speed to develop their game. Using a lighter bat can make it
easier to get a faster swing, so even though the mass decreases, it can
increase the swing speed enough to actually increase the force put on the
baseball.

Feld - Schultz
Design flaws and errors of the experiment were vast because it was
such a difficult area to research. The first of many was the fact that the bat
may not have been pulled back to the exact desired angle each time. This
error would affect the swing speed, as if the bat was pulled to a different
angle, the speed would increase or decrease by a slight amount. Another
flaw in the experiment was the fact that the bats age and usage varied.
One bat was made around five years ago while the other two were made
around three years ago. Two bats were also used more frequently, while
one had barely been used before. This could have affected the experiment
because as bats are used more, their hitting ability becomes weakened. A
third error in the experiment was the weight distribution in the bats. Two
bats weights were more evenly distributed while the other was top heavy.
More mass at the end of the bad could have increased the balls distance.
The final error in the experiment was the fact that the bat may not have hit
the ball on the same tee position. After a trial, the tee may have moved,
causing the next trial to hit the tee or hit the top of the ball. The distance
could have been affected from this difference in angle that the bat
impacted the ball.
This experiment could be expanded in the future to test other
factors and the possible effects they would have on the distance of
baseballs. Mass and swing speeds were used for this experiment because
those factors were the easiest to change. Other factors like torque and
moment of inertia could have significant effects on the distance of a

Feld - Schultz
baseball. Torque could be tested by increasing the lever arm, or simply the
length of the bat. Moment of inertia could be tested by changing where the
ball is hit by the bat. For example, if a ball is hit by the end of the bat, it
could have a different distance than a ball that was hit by the inside of the
bat. If this experiment was conducted again, other factors would be
included in the testing. Also, more trials would be conducted so that the
averages of the trials would be more accurate and the effects of the
factors would be clearer.

Feld - Schultz
Appendix A
The following is instructions for creating the swing mechanism that was
used in this experiment.
Materials:
(5) Wooden 2x4
Extension Spring
(3) Bungee Cord
(2) Hook Screws
Door Hinge
(25) 2 Screw
Procedure:
1. Construct a frame using wooden 2x4s and screws. If off balance, add
support beams to both sides of frame.
2. Screw the door hinge so that one side is on the frame.
3. Screw another wood beam to the door hinge that will act as a swinging
arm so that it can be pulled back and has room to swing.
4. Drill a hook into the frame and another hook into the swinging arm a short
enough distance to be able to attach a spring.
5. Attach the spring to both hooks so that when the swinging arm is pulled
back and released, it will go in a swinging motion.
6. Attach the bat for desired trial to the swinging arm using the bungee cords.

Appendix B

Y =8.66 +

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Y = 10.41

Figure 9. Prediction Equation Sample

This is the sample equation used to predict the value of the (+,+) trial. The
result was found to be 10.41, which closely matches the result of the actual (+,+)
trial average, which was 10.8.

( 2.5321)+ N

Y =8.66 +

Y =9.925

Figure 10. Parsimonious Equation Sample

This is the sample equation used to predict the high value of the
significant factor of swing speed. As observed, the result was 9.925, which
almost exactly matches the result of the actual average of the high value of swing
speed; which was 9.93. For the (+,+) trial average however, the parsimonious
equation is not as accurate as the prediction equation which was 10.41.

Works Cited

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"Momentum and Its Conversion." Momentum. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.
<http://www.physicsclassroom.com/Class/momentum/u4l1a.cfm>.
Russel, Danie A. "Bat Weight, Swing Speed and Ball Velocity." Bat Weight,
Swing Speed and Ball Velocity. Penn State University, 27 Mar. 2008. Web.
17 Apr. 2015. <http://www.acs.psu.edu/drussell/bats/batw8.html>.
Elert, Glenn. "Equations of Motion." - The Physics Hypertextbook. The Physics
HyperTextbook, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <http://physics.info/motionequations/>.