In this study, we wished to investigate the factors that determine the direction of the spin axis of a pitched baseball. Nineteen male baseball pitchers were recruited to pitch fastballs. The pitching motion was recorded with a three-dimensional motion analysis system (1000 Hz), and the orientations of the hand segment in a global coordinate system were calculated using Euler rotation angles. Reflective markers were attached to the ball, and the direction of the spin axis was calculated on the basis of their positional changes. The spin axis directions were significantly correlated with the orientations of the hand just before ball release. The ball is released from the fingertip and rotates on a plane that is formed by the palm and fingers; the spin axis of the ball is parallel to this plane. The lift force of the pitched baseball is largest when the angular and translational velocity vectors are mutually perpendicular. Furthermore, to increase the lift forces for the fastballs, the palm must face home plate.
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