The effectiveness of fastballs of equivalent speed can differ; for example, one element of this difference could be due to the effect of rate and orientation of ball spin on launched ball trajectory. In the present experiment, baseball batters' accuracy in hitting fastballs with different backspin rates at a constant ball velocity of 36 m/s was examined. Thirteen skilled baseball players (professionals, semiprofessionals, and college varsity players) participated in the study. The movements of bat and ball were recorded using two synchronized high-speed video cameras. The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r) was calculated and used to analyze the relationship between ball backspin rate and the vertical distance between ball center and sweet spot at the moment of ball-bat impact. Ball backspin rate was positively correlated with increases in the distance from the optimal contact point of the swung bat (sweet spot) to the actual point of contact (r = .38, P < .001). Batters were most effective at the usual backspin rate for the ball velocity used. The decrease in accuracy of the batter's swing that was observed when the fastball's backspin deviated from the usual rate likely occurred because experienced batters predict ball trajectory from perceived ball speed.
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