Those of you who have played tennis and baseball will know that the dynamics are very different.
In tennis, you win by being more consistent than the opponent. One more ball over and in the court, and you get the point.
When batting in baseball, you want to hit the ball as far as you can. This is done to give the baserunner(s) as much time as possible to get around all the bases and touch the home plate.
If you hit a tennis ball and a baseball ball at the same angle, with the same swing path and speed, the tennis ball will go farther. This is going to be the case whether you use a tennis racket or a baseball bat.
It is, however, impossible to answer this question just with data from professional matches alone.
When tennis players are competing, they are not trying to hit the ball as far as possible. The focus for tennis players is not how far they can hit the ball.
In this article I will be discussing:
- The characteristics of tennis and baseball balls
- Which of the two balls are harder to throw
- Which of the two balls with go farther when hit
If you’re keen to learn more, read on!
Baseball Vs Tennis Ball Velocity
A tennis ball must weigh between 1.975 and 2.095 ounces. According to the official baseball rules, a baseball ball cannot weigh less than 5 ounces or more than 5.5 ounces.
A baseball ball is thus twice as heavy as a tennis ball.
For something to fly in the air, it must overcome gravity. The more an object weighs, the more downward force that it must overcome.
As the tennis ball weighs more than half of a baseball ball, it has less weight to overcome and will maintain its height for longer.
Aerodynamics is a term used to describe the way objects move through the air. If an object is described as more aerodynamic, it will fly better through the air.
The four forces that influence an object’s flight are weight, lift, drag and thrust.
So, in terms of weight, tennis balls are more aerodynamic than baseball balls.
Material and structure
Today, tennis balls are made with two rubber shells that are fused together. Once fused together to make the ball, they are completely hollow on the inside.
Pressurized gas is used to make the balls bounce. They are also coated with felt nylon on the outside.
Most often, the core of a baseball is made from cork and rubber. The cork and rubber are then coated with animal hide, usually from cows or horses.
MLB (Major League Baseball) balls today are made of something known as cushioned cork.
Cushioned cork is a sphere of cork coated with two layers of rubber.
The felt covering on the tennis ball is used to reduce the effect of drag. Drag is the force that pulls back on something trying to move. An excellent example of the effect of drag is swimming vs. running.
The fastest runner in the world will be quicker than the fastest swimmer. The reason for this is that air causes less drag than water.
As felt nylon causes less drag than cowhide, tennis balls can be considered more aerodynamic in this category as well.
Which Is Harder To Throw?
Someone who has not practiced throwing either tennis or a baseball ball will likely find it easier throwing the tennis ball.
The main reason for this is that it is lighter and thus requires less technique to throw.
It also depends on what your aim is with the throw. Are you trying to throw it as far as you can? Are you attempting to throw a tennis ball like a baseball?
Let’s assume you are playing baseball with a tennis ball. It will almost certainly be harder. The reason for this is you must account for the different characteristics and thus throw the ball differently.
If you throw a tennis ball in the same way as a baseball ball, it will stay in the air slightly longer. This is due to its weight and drag.
Even if you become skilled at throwing a tennis ball in baseball, you will encounter a problem further down the line.
As there is no situation where a baseball match would be played with a tennis ball, you will have been training for something you would never do.
Your technique will have been developed around the throwing of a tennis ball, not a baseball ball.
Which Ball Will Travel Farther If Hit?
In most circumstances, a tennis ball will go farther than a baseball. This assumes that the balls are hit with the same object, with the same force, at the same angle.
If a tennis ball is hit with a frying pan and a baseball ball a bat, the ball hit by the bat will go further.
The reason this is the case is straightforward. Tennis balls weigh less and are more aerodynamic than baseball balls. This allows them to travel further before gravity begins to pull them down.
A tennis player using a ball and racket will also hit farther than a baseball player with a bat and ball. In addition to the aerodynamics of a tennis ball, elasticity plays a role.
As tennis balls are hollow and have a rubber shell, they compress at contact before being propelled into the air.
This allows tennis balls to benefit from the trampoline effect. Unfortunately, this can’t be done with baseball balls because they are internally solid.
Tennis balls can also be hit faster, and if hit at the right angle, this will help it maintain height for longer.
The fastest tennis ball ever hit (recognized by the Association of Tennis Professionals) was 157.2 mph.
The fastest home run ever hit in baseball was 121.7 mph. Interestingly enough, the fastest and second fastest home run ever hit was by the same person; Giancarlo Stanton.
I’m no baseball expert, but it seems he is the one to watch if you’re looking to learn how to hit hard.
How far you can hit a tennis ball is not something players ever need to worry about. Although, it is an exciting topic of conversation.
A friend and colleague of mine have a german shepherd. Instead of taking him on long walks, he prefers to go to the countryside and whack the tennis ball as far as he can.
He’s certainly had more practice hitting tennis balls far than most.
Have you ever done the same? How far have you managed to hit a tennis ball? Perhaps you’re a baseball player. What’s the farthest you’ve managed to send the ball.