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Discussion: How Weather Affects Softball Travel Distances:

Posted Discussion
Oct. 24, 2007
Men's 70
267 posts
How Weather Affects Softball Travel Distances:
From the Desk of bashbro1 Kent, WA:

As a softball flies through the air, the air pushes back against it, resisting its motion and decreasing the distance the ball travels. If you don't believe that air can provide such resistance, go ahead and just stick your arm out of a car window at 120 mph and feel the push you get. A lot of emphasis is paid to the “density” of the air mass around the field. Of course air density is a localized phenomena and can be quite different from place-to-place, from day-to-day and is dependent on such atmospheric variables such as: ‘temperature’, ‘humidity’ and air ‘pressure’. In thin, or low density air a ball can travel faster and farther because there's less air resistance like for example in Carson City’s “Rockin’ Reno”.

Let’s quickly breakdown the importance of these above mentioned atmospheric variables that affect ball flight and distance:

(1.) Air Pressure. Air under low pressure is less dense, or thinner, than air under high pressure. This is the main reason your long flies carry farther in Carson City given its atmospheric pressure at that altitude of 4687ft, which is about 15% less than sea level pressures like in Seattle, WA. A ball that would have flown 320 ft at sea level would carry further by some 20-30’ or about 350’ in the higher altitude. On a low pressure day the pressure is only one or two per cent lower than on a normal day, so a 320 ft shot @ sea level would only carry about 322 ft! Obviously this air pressure effect is not significant enough to give it much consideration.

So then, what does make a difference on a daily basis @ the same altitude? Well, how about the (2.) Humidity? Air with high humidity is less dense, therefore is thinner than is counterpart or dry air. But here again, the affect is so slight it would only account for a long fly traveling just a few inches farther on a humid day. Here’s lies the paradox regarding humid air like we experience in the St. Louis ISA Worlds this past summer. According atmospheric scientists, humid air will make the softball (44COR 375lbs Comp.) actually heavier and less elastic than a ball in dry air, and consequently, it will not carry as well even though humid air is ‘thinner’ than dry air. The effect on distance playing in high humidity would carry your blast say 335ft rather than 315ft which are just rough “ballpark” estimates by scientists.

Hey how about Temp? The higher the (3.) Temperature of the air will make the air less dense, or thinner, than cold air. Here again we’re only talking about adding 10ft or so on your 300’ home run in say 75-80degree temps. And as we have all experienced, the ball loses a significant amount of its compression for every degree over 80 degrees which will off-set any gains with the thinner air.

Okay, here’s the kicker so to speak… (4.) “The Wind is Mariah”. Air moving along in the same direction as the ball is flying pushes back less on the ball, allowing it to travel farther. In fact, the wind is very often the single most important thing to consider about the weather when hitting home runs in a tournament. A 320ft shot in calm conditions could result in a 365ft+ blast just with a 15-20 mph tail wind and vice versa with the wind blowing into the batter’s face.

So of all the atmospheric variables we deal with in an every day game, “wind direction” has by far the greatest influence on your distance. I know for a fact that in New Zealand, the top seeded team in a tournament gets their choice of field assignments based on “wind direction”, and that’s how important wind speed and direction is in Senior Softball as well!

Bashbro1(Art Eversole Ruth 60’s Player/Webmaster)
Oct. 24, 2007
Men's 50
3114 posts
Absolutely brilliantly interesting stuff.
You're a senior softball gem.
Say hi to Tommy and BEAR and the crusher for me.
Oct. 25, 2007
Men's 60
62 posts
Kevin at Anaconda / Trump told me that the average ssoftball will lose 5 lbs of compression for every degree that the temperature is above 72 degrrees, and will gain 5 pounds of compression for every degree below 72 degrees.
He also advises that Trump's 44/375 ball With MCT ( Micro Cell Technology) does not lose any compression on hot, humid Summer days due to the unique manufacturing process that is used on those balls.
We have used those balls in our leagues and tournaments a few times with excellent results in 90+ degree days. They don't lose a thing in the heat and humidity.
Oct. 25, 2007
Men's 65
884 posts
Here in Houston we use these balls in our HCSSL League. They do not carry well since they are stored in a locked cabinet in a scorebooth that gets well over 110 degrees in the summer. The ball loses significant compression here in this condition. It takes a lot to cause this to happen, but it does happen here.

They do fine when stored at room temperature and then used.
Oct. 25, 2007
Men's 60
62 posts
No doubt. That's ball abuse. I hate it when that haappens.
Oct. 25, 2007
Men's 60
62 posts
This show appeared on TV every week right before Gunsmoke. It's star actor had his pistol pointed right at you during the opening scene. Name this series and the actor.
Oct. 25, 2007
Men's 60
62 posts
Sorry, wrong topic. What a meathead !
Oct. 25, 2007
Men's 60
1706 posts
Oct. 26, 2007
353 posts
Now this is positive and helpful info Nice job
April 11, 2013
1 posts
Does anyone know if there are any studies on the affect of weather on ball movement, etc, like you are talking about here. I am trying to do some research on the topic.
April 11, 2013
Tim Millette
615 posts
It scared me for a minute.....

I say an Einstein posting....
April 11, 2013
Men's 65
437 posts
...and I was think I should move to Reno
April 12, 2013
213 posts
I rememeber years ago, I read the book, "The Physics of Baseball" which included many of the above points...I think the same study should be done with softball and put it in layman's terms to relate it to our game......if you haven't read the book, you should...there are many brain numbing items like a fastball can't rise etc and temperature, bat speed etc......enjoy
April 12, 2013
Men's 65
1000 posts
Can you imagine the distance some of you monster blasters can get on our fields here in Telluride, Colorado situated at 8,750 feet above sea level. Have been discussing a senior tournament with our local rec. dept.

Thanks for the detailed info.
April 12, 2013
Men's 55
18 posts
Humidor is what our AAA team Albuquerque Isotopes are using to try and level the playing field. See video:
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