Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 15:57:56 -0600

Author: Jerry DiMarco

Subject: Re: Sliding into first base


Arguments about this topic can go on all day. It is difficult to
persuade someone that sliding head first, feet first, or standing up is
better because objective testing is hard to do in this situation. While
this may be covered in one of the "science of sports" books, we may be able
to cut to the quick by considering a similar situation where it is
necessary to run somewhere as quickly as possible - i.e. chasing down a fly
I think we can all agree that experienced outfielders would
eventually learn the best way to catch a fly ball that is at the limit of
their reach. You've probably done it yourself or seen it done - you have
to dive for it. This is very similar to diving head first into a base. If
there was an easier or faster way to get there and make the catch, that's
how experienced players would be doing it. But there isn't, so that's why
pros dive for the ball.
So why don't experienced players slide into first base? It goes
against tradition, it's inconvenient and there is more risk of injury. A
foot first slide would be slower and counterproductive because your last
step is not a full running step. John's analysis of a head first slide is
valid but incomplete:
1) You want to hit the dirt just as you touch the bag, so there is no
slowing from the impact.
2) Even though it takes time to fall forward, you are still running right
up to the moment before you hit the dirt. So there is minimal loss of
forward speed.
3) So it comes down to the difference in length between your stretched out
legs (~5' for me) and your stretched out body (~7.5' for me).
You would get there a little sooner with a head first slide, but not many
people are willing to do it...


At 02:12 PM 8/27/2003, you wrote:
>Howdy all,
>I got this from a former student of mine, and I was wondering if anyone
>had thoughts on the matter or could point me to a reference.
>Cheers - Matt Lowry
>Hi Mr. Lowry,
>I was your student in Physics in 2001. I was just writing cause I just
>got into a somewhat heated argument about whether it's faster for a
>baseball player to dive headfirst into first base or to run full speed
>through the base. My argument being simply that the time it takes for
>you to fall and the resistance of hitting the dirt (while minimal
>because you're diving at the base) will slow you down enough to make it
>a step slower. I was just wondering if you had any information about a
>study that has taken place, or if you have an opinion on the matter.
>Thank you,
>John Ronzani


Jerry DiMarco
Manager of Lecture Demonstrations and Instructional Labs
Montana State Univ., Physics Dept.
Bozeman, MT

Our Motto: "There's a demo in there somewhere."
From Wed Aug 27 18:27:58 2003