# Why "velocity"?

This isn’t really important, but why has the term velocity been used for pitching speed rather than simply speed?

Velocity and speed are only synonymous when describing the motion of an object that doesn’t change direction.

Put another way, velocity is a vector quantity, while speed is a scalar quuantity.

So, to illustrate…if you run 100 feet straight down a track in 4 seconds both your average velocity and your average speed are both 25 ft/s.

However, if you run 100 feet straight down a track, turn 180 degrees and run straight back to where you started, all in 8 seconds, your average speed is still 25 ft/sec…but your average velocity for the round trip is 0.00 ft/sec, because after all is said and done your ending position isn’t actually displaced from your starting point after the 8 seconds have passed.

Yep, I know. I was just wondering why that term was used, and how velocity vs. speed may or may not come into play with breaking pitches.

Well, I think you’ve identified one of those grey areas with your point…but in the context of a pitched ball the difference between correct usage and incorrect usage may not really matter all that much (except, perhaps, to physicists).

The ball’s flight path ‘almost’ doesn’t change on its way to HP…although, in reality, there is no such thing as a truly straight pitch in any gravitational field. Curves curve, of course, but so do fastballs and every other type of pitch. So, at some level of concern, which will always be directly proportional to a given pitch’s amount of deviation from a perfect linear trajectory, average speed and average velocity are never truly interchangeable measures of a real pitched baseball.

Personally, I think ‘velocity’ is used more because it sounds more cool in some contexts. I.e., “muzzle velocity” is similar to the concept of “instantaneous velocity”…what the velocity of the ball is conceived to be at a single instant in time–this is almost what a radar gun tries to measure, and it is usually a high number because you can take radar readings very near the release point just as the ball leaves the muzzle of the pitcher’s gun. And everybody wants to see high numbers, of course, so it makes sense that measurements become associated with muzzle velocity. So there’s a lot of macho gun-related metaphor there, and it just sounds cool.

Lets face it, if you were a paleontologist would you rather study ‘velociraptors’ or ‘speedy dinosaurs’?

On the other hand, ‘raw speed’ sounds much better than ‘raw velocity’. Go figure.

Geez, Orangepeel, between you and me I hope no one else is actually reading this thread…

[quote=“laflippin”]
Geez, Orangepeel, between you and me I hope no one else is actually reading this thread…[/quote]

Well i was and then it reminded me of last years physics class so i stopped lol

Just wanted to let you guys know that I haven’t read a word of this thread. :jesterbox:

Haha, yeah, I had this conversation with someone else and we decided that velocity is a much more interesting word than speed. In fact, I even thought of the specific velociraptor examples, lol. Thanks.

im just glad you guys are debating over it and not me…this is rough stuff