Three strikes and you’re out! Does your team seem full of limp bats? And what about basketball–is your team in that sport doing badly as well? Donuts, bat wraps, weighted gloves are some of the many devices are available to help baseball players warm up while waiting to go to bat. But a new study finds that none of ten commonly used warm-up devices has a significant effect on bat speed, which may explain why YOUR team is doing so badly.
Researcher David J. Szymanski says that in his study, "Heavier warm-up devices did not provide greater bat velocity than the ‘standard’ bat or lighter devices." He tested 22 college baseball players using various devices designed for use in warming-up before batting. The devices ranged from a simple "donut ring," to weighted bat wraps and gloves, to special warm-up bats. The weight of the warm-up devices ranged from 22 to 96 ounces. At each testing session, the players took three practice swings, as hard as possible, using one of the ten devices, but a measuring device showed that their practice sessions did not increase their batting speed.
What about basketball–is your team failing there too? Let’s say the score is tied and there are only a few seconds left on the clock. A player has the ball about 10 feet away from the basket on the right side of the court, just outside the free-throw lane. It’s decision time: Is it best to try a direct shot to win the game? Or should he try to bounce the ball off the backstop? The direct shot is the bravura way to do it, but it may not be the most effective. Time’s up; the buzzer sounds. Did your team make the winning basket? New research by engineers shows that a player has a better chance of scoring that particular game-winning bucket with a shot off the backstop than with a direct shot. After simulating one million shots with a computer, researchers showed that this type of shot can be 20% more effective when shooting at many angles up to a distance of about 12 feet from the basket.
Researcher Larry Silverberg says, "Basketball players can’t take a slide rule out on the court, but our study suggests that a few intuitive assumptions about bank shots are true. They can be more effective than direct shots, especially from certain areas of the court–and we show which areas on the court and where the ball needs to hit the backboard."
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