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Incredible video shows how hard it is for MLB players to actually hit a baseball

There's a lot of physics involved

baseball on pitchers mound
Creative Commons

Playing any sport at a high level comes with the kinds of challenges that very few people are capable of meeting. That’s why athletes get paid so well — they’re capable of doing things that the average person simply can’t. Among all the incredible feats that athletes accomplish, though, one of the most astonishing happens every time a batter steps up to the mound to try and hit a ball in the MLB.

Even the best hitters in baseball only successfully record a hit on two of every five of their mound appearances, and that’s because hitting a ball well requires incredible precision. The video below, which was created by Business Insider, shows just how little room for error a batter has when they’re about to take a swing at a pitch.


Few things are more difficult in sports than hitting a baseball. (🎥: Business Insider) #hittingmechanics #baseballtiktoks

♬ original sound – CBS Sports – CBS Sports

There’s a science to hitting a baseball well

The ball has to travel only around 55 feet, and a typical fastball is traveling between 90 and 95 miles per hour. That means it travels that distance in roughly 400 milliseconds, a tiny window of time that is roughly equivalent to the length of a single blink. As the video illustrates, it takes your brain 100 milliseconds to process an image, and it takes 150 milliseconds to execute your swing, which means you have an incredibly narrow window to actually gauge the pitch and decide whether you want to swing at it. That window only gets narrower when you realize that you’ll also need about 25 milliseconds for your brain to communicate to your body whether it should swing or not.

If you decide to swing, you have to time that swing exactly right so that you’ll actually have a chance to hit the ball, which means finding the right window of approximately 7 milliseconds. All of that scientific information may help to explain why even the best batters in the league can’t manage to hit the ball roughly half the time. In fact, it’s a miracle that they can hit it even a quarter of the time given how fast the pitches are being thrown.

Is this the hardest thing to do in professional sports?

We know that sports like basketball and soccer require much more conditioning than baseball, and we know that sports like football and hockey require certain physical durability that you don’t necessarily need to play most positions on a baseball diamond, but being able to successfully hit a fastball may indeed be the hardest thing professional athletes are ever called on to do.

Of course, there are other sports that require the best of the best to be exceptional at hitting a ball really hard and with precision. Some tennis players hit balls while running, a feat that baseball players never have to deal with. Golfers, meanwhile, have to have even more precision over even greater distances than baseball players do, but they have the benefit of a ball that isn’t moving.

Hitting a fastball may not be the hardest thing an athlete can do, but it’s got to be near the top of the list, and now, we have the science to prove it.

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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