New research says curveball doesn't really curve

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

Here’s something the Cincinnati Reds could have used last week before the Phillies’ Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter at ‘em: new research says a curveball doesn’t really curve!

A curveball is just an illusion? The study says a well-thrown yakker, a yellow hammer, Uncle Charlie – it curves for sure, but not that much.

USC’s Zhong-Lin Lu and American University’s Arthur Shapiro say if you’re the batter, your problem isn’t what the pitch is doing. It’s what your eyes say it’s doing.

You’re up to bat; the ball leave the pitcher’s hand, and your more perceptive central vision tracks it. But when the ball’s about 20 feet from the plate, you switch to peripheral vision.

Lu says peripheral vision gets confused by the speed and spin. When the pitch is almost to the plate, you switch back to central vision – and realize the ball ain’t where it’s supposed to be. Swung on and missed!

What do you do? Lu and Shapiro say keep your eye on the ball – or, more precisely, keep the ball in your central vision longer... if you can. Better yet: don’t swing at the curve. Wait for that fastball, nice and straight, hands back... boom!