Aerodynamics of Baseball
What makes a curveball curve? What determines how far a batted ball will travel? How do weather conditions change the flight of a baseball? How does location determine if a field is a "hitters" or a "batters" park?
While NASA is known for rocket science and airplanes, we love to solve more down-to-earth problems too. Many of our researchers are big fans of America’s pastime, the game of baseball. They designed simulations to study and teach how airplane and rocket aerodynamics have applied equations to baseball. When you factor in weather and location, you have the perfect tools to have fun learning about baseball! We’ve put these simulations online so you can “play ball.”
How is aerodynamics related to sports?
Anything that moves through air reacts to aerodynamics. It is the study of forces and the resulting motion of objects as they fly through the air, including kites and jet engines. Thanks to the Wright Brothers research and experimentation, today’s NASA engineers are involved in all aspects of research to solve new problems of flight.
Aerodynamics plays a significant role in many sports, such as golf, football, ski-jumping, and automobile racing. The activities on this page will help you to learn the effects of aerodynamics on baseball.
During the World Series of 1995, astronauts orbiting the Earth on the Space Shuttle Columbia threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5 in Cleveland. You can learn more about this event here.
Physics of baseball.
- Forces on a Baseball
- Drag of a Sphere
- Lift of a Baseball
- Drag on a Baseball
- Fly Ball Results
- Curveball Trajectory
- Ideal Flow Around a Spinning Ball
- Ideal Lift of a Spinning Ball
- Ballistic Flight Equations
- Flight Equations with Drag
The name of the game – simulations.
The simulations below will help you to learn more about factors that affect the aerodynamic forces on a baseball when it is pitched or hit by a batter. The easiest way to learn is just to start practicing.
Weight and drag effect the ball's flight.
Curve Ball Expert
Aerodynamics controls the conditions of a baseball pitch.
Aerodynamics controls the conditions of a batted baseball.
Hit Modeler Weather
Aerodynamics factors effects on a batted baseball.
Equations for flight.