The Big Spin

Make a prediction: Does a ball really curve?


We have looked at the principles of motion. In this lesson we make connections with a thrown or kicked ball.

The question is: does a ball curve, or is it an optical illusion?

During this lesson, you will write a reaction essay covering the principle that relate to a thrown ball.


Batters insist that a good pitcher can throw a "filthy" breaking ball that curves drastically.

Base Ball

There are several hypotheses that could explain batter statements:

  1. A ball curves. It is not an optical illusion.
  2. The ball drops because of gravity.
  3. The seams of the ball influence/create the altered flight of the ball.
  4. There are physical imperfections in the ball that affect the flight of a thrown, batted, or kicked ball.

Read the articles below:

The Breaking Pitch

Physics behind the Breaking Pitch


Physics behind the Fastball


Can a pitcher throw a ball so hard that it rises (goes up)?

Would your hypothesis change if we were to throw a softball with a fast-pitch softball motion?

What affect does atmoshpere have on a thrown ball?

Does the ball react differently in Cleveland or Denver? Explain your answer.

What about a ball thrown in the Himalayas?

Compare and analyze a curve ball thrown on earth and a curve ball thrown on Mars.

Complete the essay using the Big Spin Template. Be sure to make the connection back to the aerodynamic principles addressed in other lessons.

Done Early?

Read the Mechanics of Baseball. Create a PowerPoint presentation that explains the physics of the game of baseball.

Jim Kaat in Popular Mechanics

The presentation will be grades based on score from: Presentation Rubric