NORTH SHORE, PGH – Imagine a sports car and a dump truck are both moving on a completely flat surface at 60 miles per hour.
Now ask yourself, which vehicle has the most momentum – the dump truck or the sports car?
Give yourself a high five if you said the dump truck.
The question begs, why does the dump truck have more momentum if it is going the same speed as the sports car? The simple answer is because the dump truck is heavier.
With that in mind, let’s see how these same principles to baseball.
If two vehicles are traveling the same speed, but one is heavier than the other, thus having more momentum, it would stand to reason that if two batters both had the same swing speed, the batter using the heavier weighted bat would have more momentum, and thus be able to hit the ball further after contact.
Therein lies how ‘Impact Momentum’ can have a huge impact on your results.
Physics law tells us that the impulse (the force applied to an object that produces an equivalent vector change in its linear momentum in the same direction) experienced by the bat equals the change in bat momentum. The impulse the bat experiences increases its momentum. The heavier the bat, the more momentum it can achieve as long as swing speed is not sacrificed.
This is where we get ‘Impact Momentum’.
Let’s dig deeper and lay out a scenario in which the correlation between momentum change and impulse can create an advantage, if used properly.
As a pitcher throws the ball toward home plate, it has a certain momentum. In order hit a home run or say, drive a double to the gap, the batter must therefore cause a significant change in momentum.
Consider the momentum change in terms of the impulse components. The batter can only apply so much force, but it is possible to magnify impulse greatly by increasing the amount of time over which the force is delivered. This is known in sports—and it applies as much in tennis or golf as in baseball—as “following through.” By increasing the time of impact, the batter has increased impulse and thus, momentum change.
In terms of SwingTracker, we measure ‘Impact Momentum’ in kg-m/sec (kg · m/s or kg · m · s -1). The kilogram-meter per second is the standard unit of momentum.**
In previous SwingTracker metric discussions we were able to lay out specific real-world examples that also applied to the baseball swing. Here, we have our example of a dump truck and sports car, but that is non-specific.
For instance, we can’t say that ‘Real World Example X’ also has a reading of 22 kg-m/sec because that number is dependent on many different variables. Where as ‘Trigger To Impact’ boils down to just milliseconds (and thus can be directly compared to other things that happen in milliseconds), ‘Impact Momentum’ factors in speed and weight, and therefore is much harder to compare since the idea of a car moving at 22 kg-m/sec means nothing since a bat and car are worlds apart when it comes to how much each weighs.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that a heavily weighted part of your ‘Impact Momentum’ score (pardon the pun), lies in the weight of the bat. You could produce a higher swing speed with a lighter bat, but that may not necessarily result in more power because you are producing less momentum on the ball because of the lighter bat.
Finding that perfect balance of bat weight, coupled with swing speed that allows you to maximize your power potential is what we are looking for. A good example of that is how football strength coaches train their players – specifically running backs, linebackers and safeties.
You want to be able to carry as much weight as possible (muscle weight) without losing speed. Strength coaches spend lots of time figuring out the maximum weight a player can get without losing too much speed. Even if all the weight he gains is muscle weight and his strength is through the roof, that won’t help if he has lost too much speed and can’t elude a tackler or catch up to a runner.
It’s the same with bat weight and swing speed. Finding that perfect balance can unlock your potential and have a huge impact on your game.