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Science behind running to first base

March 28, 2013

 

MOLLY BOWMAN
Senior New Editor

 

This is the first entry of a four-part series about the science behind sports.

 

Senior Amanda Krueger steps up to the plate looking for the perfect pitch.

 

“It’s suspenseful and you’re anxious,” she said. “You’re just ready to jump on anything and once you finally see it, it’s almost a relief.”

 

Krueger, who is a left-handed hitter, will take about 2.9 seconds to get to first base, which is important in the game of softball.

 

David Szymanski, associate professor of kinesiology, said when a player is a left-handed hitter, they generally run to first base faster than a right-handed hitter.

 

He said softball coaches started using the slap approach toward first base, which means once the ball is pitched, the batter will start moving and create momentum to get there faster.

 

“Usually, it’s the left-handed hitter who’s doing that slap approach,” he said. “They are already accelerating out of the box while they are just kind of slapping at the ball and hitting it into the ground.”

 

Szymanski said because the distance between home and first base is shorter than in baseball, there is less ground to cover defensively, which means there is no room for an infielder to make an error.

 

“From a traditional standpoint, you put your fastest hitters at the beginning of the lineup,” Szymanski said. “To get someone on base is vitally important because then that second person who comes up to bat is going to try to put that ball on the ground, so they can either advance that person to second or third base.”

 

A player’s running technique and mechanics are important when going to first base, Szymanski said. He said the most successful way of running is with a player’s arms moving forward and back so they can run in a straight line towards the base.

 

“If you want to have optimal elastic energy to be stored and released, it has to be done in the right direction,” he said. “Whether you are running or pitching or swinging, your technique is going to determine your opportunity to be successful.”

 

The average softball player takes around three seconds to reach first base, and the more players who reach first base means the potential for higher-scoring games.

 

“If you can improve your technique of getting to first base, you will decrease the amount of time they have to make that play and get you out,” Szymanski said. “It’s very important at how fast you get down that line because it changes the game. In softball, that might be one or two steps and that is the difference between being safe and out and then winning the

game.”

 

The Lady Techsters will play a three-game home series against conference rival UT Arlington on March 29 and 30. They will also play state rival Nicholls State on April 4 at home.

 

For more information on softball and other Tech athletics, follow The Tech Talk Sports Desk’s Twitter page at twitter.com/techtalksports.

 

Email comments to mmb041@latech.edu.


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