In recent years the “trampoline effect” that alloy and composite bats produce has been garnering a lot of attention. This got us wondering, what is the trampoline effect and why is it getting so much attention? Well, to help understand the subject a little better, The Hardball Network, has done some research to answer the question, what is the trampoline effect?
The Trampoline Effect
In the game of baseball, the trampoline effect is defined as how fast a baseball bounces off a bat when it makes contact. To test the trampoline effect scientists shoot a baseball at a stationary bat and record the balls reaction using a combination of lasers and high tech cameras. Wood, alloy. and composite bats all produce different trampoline effects with alloy and composite producing higher numbers during the ball-bat collision.
Why Do Non-Wood Bats Produce a Higher Trampoline Effect?
It comes down to energy lost during the ball-bat collision. Wood bats are solid, so when a pitched ball hits the bat the ball compresses losing up to three-quarters of its energy through internal frictions in the ball and transverse vibrations through the bat. Because alloy and composite bats are hollow the barrel can flex, which lowers ball compression, and the energy lost through transverse vibrations in wood bats is instead transferred into surface vibrations which are returned to the ball producing a higher trampoline effect.
How is the trampoline Effect Affecting Play?
Because alloy and composite bats are lighter with larger sweet spots than wood, the trampoline effect these bats produce is giving hitters an unfair advantage over pitchers especially when it comes to the exit velocity of the ball off the bat. Remember, if you read our article, Understanding Exit Velocity, the higher the exit velocity the further the ball will go. According to ESPN Sports Science, when you factor in pitch speed, swing speed, and launch angle, an increase in trampoline effect of just 5% can turn a 375-foot long fly ball into a 400-foot home run.
Trying To Correct the Trampoline Effect
Since the vast majority of bats used at the youth and amateur levels are made from alloy or composite materials several methods for evaluating bat performance have been implemented. Youth baseball member organizations within USA Baseball, the national governing body of baseball in the United States, have adopted the USA Bat Standard, which requires non-wood bats at the youth level to perform more like the top of the line wood bats. As of January 1, 2018, if you are 14 years old or younger you must use a bat with a USA Bat Standard approved stamp on it.
At the NFHS and NCAA level, all bats must now be BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) approved. BBCOR measures how much energy is lost in the ball-bat collision or how much the bat springs. The higher the number indicates a higher trampoline effect. The BBCOR standard is set at 0.5 which is only slightly higher than a wood bat. All bats in game and tournament play must have the BBCOR approved stamp on them.
Want to Learn More?
Need advice on purchasing a bat? Be sure to read our article, What to Consider When Purchasing a Bat.
Want to learn more about the science behind baseball? Just click SCIENCE
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