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What is it like getting hit with a baseball in the head?

The risks of getting hit in the head cannot be overstated. While a helmet can reduce the critical effects of the impact, taking a closer look at the underlying physics of impacts reveals just how formidable these forces truly are.

Take the following example: in 2019, pitcher Noah Syndergaard from the New York Mets threw a pitch that clocked in at 98 mph towards batter Nicholas Castellanos. That is an impact energy of 140 joules or approximately 103 ft-lbs.

We know this from the following equation for kinetic energy:

Kinetic energy = (½)*mass*velocity^2

Kinetic energy = (½)*0.145kg*43.8099m/s^2

Kinetic energy = 140 J

Where m is the mass of an average baseball in kilograms, and v is the speed of the pitch in meters per second.

140 joules may not sound like much, but consider this: let’s say we have a standard baseball hoop, standing at about 10 ft tall. Now imagine that a bowling ball with a mass of 12-14 pounds falls from the top of that basketball hoop.

If Syndergaard’s ball had connected with Castellanos’ body or head, that resulting force is exactly the same as the bowling ball dropping from the top of that basketball hoop.

Reframing the forces like this should make the scope of the potential damage of the impact clear. Ensuring that players are kept as safe as possible is a critical area of sports equipment science that needs addressing.

This is where Windpact comes in.

Windpact’s mission is to make sports safer through cutting-edge technology, and data-driven impact solutions. Through a combination of hardware, predictive modeling, and materials data, we strive to improve safety in sports, military, and automotive industries. No matter the engineering challenge, Windpact champions innovative solutions to modern safety problems to mitigate concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). If there is an impact problem, we can solve it!