Baseball Rip

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Baseball Rip

The physics of a golf swing is deceptively more complicated than one might imagine. At first glance it might appear as simple as swinging a club and hitting the ball. But in fact, there is quite a bit more to it. There is the importance of technique obviously, but there is also some interesting physics that goes into making the “perfect” golf shot.

There are two main components that go into golf swing physics.

Both of these will result in the best possible shot:
1. Good swinging speed of the arms and shoulders.
2. Uncocking the wrists at the right moment so that the club connects squarely with the ball. Uncocking the wrists means letting the wrists rotate freely, while still holding on to the club.

The importance of the first point is fairly obvious. You must generate good swing speed to hit the ball hard enough, so that it goes far.

The second point is not as obvious. To understand the physics of a golf swing one must consider the mechanics of rotational motion. When an object travels around in a circle it moves outward, if unconstrained. To visualize this, imagine yourself sitting in a car that makes a sharp left turn. If you’re not wearing your seat belt you’ll go sliding across the seat towards the right, due to the effects of centripetal acceleration.

Similarly, by uncocking your wrists during the golf swing, the club will move radially outward (since it’s not restrained). This is unlike, say, baseball where the batter “drives” the bat through its arc using raw muscle power. A baseball player relies on strong wrists and forearms to get a solid hit. His hands are “active”. This is unlike golf, where the players hands are “passive” since they exert no twisting force on the club. This probably gives you some idea why baseball players have such beefy forearms and wrists. They need the strength to power the bat through the swing.

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