Where is the Sweet Spot on a Baseball Bat?

If you haven’t played baseball since Little
League, you might have forgotten how much batting hurts. Especially if you’re bad at it. When you hit a baseball on the sweet
spot, the ball just pops right off the bat. But miss it and your hands sting like hell. As if you needed another reminder that you’re
bad at baseball. Frst, let’s talk about where the sweet
spot is. The exact position varies from bat to bat,
but it’s always about a two-inch-wide zone a few inches from the end of the
barrel. Inside this zone, there are actually multiple
“sweet spots,” depending on how we want to define it. Some people think it’s about where the bat
creates the least sting. Others say it’s the point where the ball gets
the most power from the bat. But really, they’re both talking about the
same thing: how much the bat vibrates. Every solid object has a vibrational pattern,
meaning when you hit it, it will wiggle in particular ways each time. This is just as true for a two-by-four as
it is for a baseball bat, or for a hockey stick or a cricket bat. You hit them, they vibrate. But the thing about vibrational patterns is
that they have spots called nodes. Nodes are where the wave is at its minimum
point, so If you hit an object at a node, it won’t vibrate. Every object has multiple patterns and
multiple nodes, but they tend to overlap quite a bit. And on a baseball bat, the nodes fall in that
roughly two-inch-wide zone, just a few inches from the end of the barrel. Otherwise known as: the sweet spot. You can even find the sweet spot using this
little trick. You take a wooden baseball bat, attach a cone of paper to the end Loosen it up a little bit. And you take a baseball… Tap it up here… vibrates. Down at the end it vibrates…. And if you tap along the barrel… that’s the sweet spot. Because the bat doesn’t vibrate when the
ball hits that zone, it feels good in the batter’s hands—there’s no sting. The ball also doesn’t lose any energy to
making those vibrations, so it doesn’t slow down as much when it’s hit. Fewer vibrations means more power. And in baseball, hitting the ball one mile
an hour faster could mean an extra few feet—and turn a fly ball into a home run.

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