Riseball

how do you throw a riseball? I started throwing submarine and now i want to throw a riseball. Maybe i’ll ask my girlfriend. She pitches in a sofball league

To clear some things up the riseball/rising fastball doesn’t exist, its an optical illusion.

In softball, a riseball is a pitch that has back spin instead of the usual topspin. The backspin combined with the delivery enable the ball to fight the effects of gravity, allowing it to continue in its arc for longer before flattening out and dropping.

To translate to baseball I’d say can try to throw with a curveball like action from the submarine position. For your release/grip, point your finger away from your body and turn the wrist over.

This is kind of hard to describe. Anyway, here’s video for softball.

tl;dr - your hand will cut under the ball. Imagine throwing a curveball while doing a handstand. Think about it…

i played world class fastpitch softball for 3 years. a softball pitcher who can get under the ball releasing from flat ground can make the ball travel on an upward plan. it is extremely difficult to hit. michelle smith has one of the best videos on the rise ball made. you can get it at the national softball hall of fame.

my son actually took some lessons from a very good fast pitch coach and we could get the ball to rotate 6 to 12 and flatten out as it got to the plate. we have not used it in a game. it is difficult to do and hard to control. if you had a good hitter that hit you hard or had 0-2 1-2 you might try it. we did not have enough time to master it. very diificult to do using the slope of a mound.

if you could do it, it would be something special. i’ve never seen it used as a consistent go to pitch in 25 years of baseball with any effectiveness.

koufax talks about getting under his fastball enough to make it rise. he said he felt like he was completely under the ball when he released it.

quotes on koufax’s fastball (i think it’d from the dvd perfect games, no hitters and near misses mlb videos, but i’m not sure). i have these interviews on dvds):

it would get here (pointing 4 ft in front of him) and the ball would go up. i never saw it from anyone else. and i couldn’t hit it -willie mays

physicists will tell you you can’t get a baseball to rise. his would go up about this far (held his hands about 8" apart) - jim palmer.

It’s just a perception thing for a hitter to see a fastball “rise”. It is not possible according to physics. The only such thing is a fastball that “drops” less.

Are you guys saying it’s not possible to throw the ball on an upward trajectory from a submarine arm slot?

I maintain that from a very low release point, i.e. Tom Seaver, a fastball with far more than normal backspin, i.e. Pedro Martinez, thrown at the very top of the strike zone to a tall hitter with an upright stance could still be rising slightly as it reaches the front of the plate. Regardless, a good fastball thrown with a lot of backspin from a low release point to a target high in the strike zone will drop significantly less than a normal fastball and will appear to rise to the hitter.

From a submarine armslot it is definitely possible to have the ball still rising slightly as it reaches the plate.

I’m not so sure if a submariner can get it up to the plate while it’s still on a rising arc. It seems like that might be possible, but somebody could probably prove it one way or the other with good videotape taken from the right perspective.

Below is something out of the literature on the rising fastball question. This topic has also been discussed by Adair and many others by now. I don’t doubt that Willie Mays thought he saw Koufax’s fastball rise near the plate, but certain types of illusions can be extremely realistic to the viewer. And, part of the pitcher’s job is to keep the hitter off-balance by manipulation of the hitter’s perception. That big breaking hammer of Koufax’s, mixed in with his heat, might have led to the perception that Koufax threw an exceptional “rising fastball”.

By the way, for those interested in Koufax, Doak Ewing over at Rare Sports Films recently told me that he has restored and is now selling a regular season full-game video with Koufax pitching. He said it is the first one available, i.e., it is not just short clips from games but an entire game on DVD.


Perception. 1990;19(4):545-52.

The rising fastball: baseball’s impossible pitch.

McBeath MK.

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, CA 94305-2130.

Batters in professional baseball are confronted with pitches that appear to curve, dip, wobble, or rise. The rising fastball is a pitch where the ball appears to hop up as much as a third of a meter with a sudden increase in speed. Physics experiments confirm that many reported trajectories are possible, but not the rising fastball. The present paper shows how the apparent rise may be explained as a perceptual illusion due to the hitter underestimating original speed of the pitch.

PMID: 2096372

If you do the math it is easy to show that a submarine pitch can easily be still rising as it reaches the top of the strike zone.

For an overhand fastball to still be rising as it reaches the top of the strike zone it depends on your assumptions as to the height of the release point, the amount of backspin that can be generated on a fastball, the speed of the ball and the height of the top of the strike zone. You do have to stretch the assumptions somewhat to mathematically show a fastball rising as it reaches the top of the strike zone. It is not a stretch to show that an eye high overhand fastball could still be rising slightly as it reaches the plate. This is a pitch that gets a fair number of strikeouts because the hitter is expecting it to drop into the top of the strike zone and they swing well under it.

CADad,

Have you done this math? By this time I’ve seen treatments of the overhand fastball done by a number of people–the agreement is solid, i.e., that humans (so far) have not shown any evidence of being able to achieve the velocity and backspin rate that would be necessary to overcome gravitational force to give an ‘inverted’ arc-shaped trajectory, or throw a pitch that stays truly straight on a line to home plate. Adair (a pretty decent physicist at Yale) and Terry Bahill at Arizona both agree, I believe.

Trying to do this from a submarine arm-slot has an interesting set of problems, not the least of which, the pitcher would have to try to get the correct backspin (the only sense of spin that can counteract any part of the gravitational force) with a curveball grip–which will clearly limit the pitch velocity even more. A normal overhand FB grip, when applied to a submarine arm-slot, is going give top-spin–that will make the pitch break downward like an overhand curveball, right?

laflippin,
Like I said you would have to stretch the assumptions for an overhand fastball, and I have. I believe the experts went in with the assumption that the ball was going to be dropping by the time it reaches the plate and didn’t try to stretch things to see if there might be a slim possibility of it happening.

As far as the submarine pitch let’s assume a pitch with an average velocity of 112 ft/s (~76 mph) traveling 54 ft. (released in front of the rubber and only having to reach the front of the plate) so it takes about .482 s. Let’s assume it is released 1 ft above ground level and ends up less than 4.5’ above ground level (tall batter). Let’s assume that the rotation gives it an upward acceleration of 8 ft/s^2. Gravity gives it a downward acceleration equal to -32 ft/s^2 resulting in an overall downward acceleration of -24ft/s^2. In .482 seconds the downward change in velocity is .482 * -24 = -11.57 ft/s. Therefore the ball has to have an initial upward velocity of 11.6 ft/s to still be rising when it reaches the plate. The average upward velocity is then about 5.8 ft/s. That means that it goes upwards 5.8 * .482 = 2.8 ft and ends up 3.8 ft above the ground and still rising as it reaches the plate.

My estimate of the amount of spin is probably a little on the high side but we have some margin so you can see that a submarine pitch could certainly be rising as it reaches the strike zone.

Could Sandy Koufax have actually thrown a pitch that rose? He threw quite hard, he got very low at release, he threw straight overhand so all the spin was going against gravity, but on the other hand because he threw straight overhand his release point wasn’t all that low. I think he could have gotten the ball to rise on an eye high pitch but not on one in the strike zone.

How about Tom Seaver? He had a very low release point but he didn’t throw overhand so I don’t think his spin on the ball was working against gravity that much. My guess is that the person closest to being able to do so was Pedro Martinez in his prime. He has a relatively low release point, gets incredible spin on the ball and is able to vary his hand angle to get a more upright spin even from his low release point and low arm slot.

So let’s look at a pitcher releasing the ball from 3.5’ above the ground (look at clips of Seaver’s delivery) with an average velocity of 94 mph or 138 ft/s. That’s about a 99 mph fastball. The ball reaches the plate in .392 seconds. Let’s assume only 4 ft/s^2 of upward acceleration due to backspin because of the low arm slot. The ball is going to have a downward change in velocity of 28 * .292 = 10.97 ft/s so the pitch has to have an initial upwards velocity of 11 ft/s and will have an average upwards velocity of 5.5 ft/s and will travel upwards 5.5 * .392 = 2.15 ft reaching the plate at a height of 5.65 ft above the ground. This would be above the strike zone for all but the very tallest hitters but would certainly be still rising when eye high. Now if you want to stretch the assumptions and say that the ball is released from 3’ above the ground or that one can get 8 ft/s^2 acceleration upward from the spin then it may just be possible.

guys, it is possible to make it rise. What i noticed from submarine (And feel free to argue this) is that my fastball has curveball like spin.

That’s because you are throwing upside down.

Technically, the ball isn’t ‘rising’, it is just going up. To me, rising means it starts by going down and then goes up. If you start by going up then of course it will go up.

What flippin was wondering is if the baseball would still be going fast enough to keep going up after 55-60 ft and apparently it does according to CADad.

Just because you are changing the level of your release point, doesn’t mean your changing the laws of gravity. Your ball is not rising. The plane of pitch certainly has changed, which will make things difficult on the hitter. But still… no rise.

But it will go UP and according to CADad, a pitch a 75mph from a LOW release pt will be rising or going up at the batter.

[quote=“CADad”]
As far as the submarine pitch let’s assume a pitch with an average velocity of 112 ft/s (~76 mph) traveling 54 ft. (released in front of the rubber and only having to reach the front of the plate) so it takes about .482 s. Let’s assume it is released 1 ft above ground level and ends up less than 4.5’ above ground level (tall batter). Let’s assume that the rotation gives it an upward acceleration of 8 ft/s^2. Gravity gives it a downward acceleration equal to -32 ft/s^2 resulting in an overall downward acceleration of -24ft/s^2. In .482 seconds the downward change in velocity is .482 * -24 = -11.57 ft/s. Therefore the ball has to have an initial upward velocity of 11.6 ft/s to still be rising when it reaches the plate. The average upward velocity is then about 5.8 ft/s. That means that it goes upwards 5.8 * .482 = 2.8 ft and ends up 3.8 ft above the ground and still rising as it reaches the plate. [/quote]

An ephus pitch is ‘rising’ until it starts to go down.

Need I bring Captain Obvious back?

"Let’s assume that the rotation gives it an upward acceleration of 8 ft/s^2. "

–Is that assumption reasonable? What rotation rate would be needed to satisfy that conclusion?

(Real pitchers can rotate the ball at about 2000 rpm +/- 200, I think).

I guess it goes back to what you consider rising. Yes, the ball will go up from release point, but that doesn’t mean it will be rising. To me, rising means defying gravity and the current plane the ball is on. I’ve never seen a baseball do this. Some just hold up better to gravity than others.

A typical fastball will defy gravity but not completely. If you throw a ball straight up it defies gravity? be more specific please

At the risk of putting words in someone else’s mouth, I think I know what Hammer is getting at:

At any given velocity, backspin on the ball will oppose the gravitational force due to the Bernoulli effect. (The same effect causes a ball with topspin to break down more than it would from gravitational effect alone).

From the work I’ve read, at humanly possible velocities and spin rates, the ball cannot overcome the gravitational force on a real pitch that is thrown directly toward HP, about 54’ from the release point. (We’re not talking about launching the ball high into the air and, in any case, humanly possible velocities and spin rates would suggest that the ball would be on a downward arc by the time it had traveled 54’ of distance, no matter how high of a launch angle you used.)

Anyway, the more velocity and the more backspin, the more resistance to the gravitational force a fastball will have. Extremely fast FBs with very high spin rates will fall less than batters may expect. Slower-moving curveballs with high topspin rates will fall more than batters may expect.

Yes flip.

I’m sorry guys… Physics, let alone trying to communicate in that type of way is not a strong suite for myself.

Well I’m talking about a riseball aka a pitch from a low release (softball/submarine).

Those do go up.

That’s what CADad said.