Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Pitching
Name: Douglas R.
Status: other
Age: $5
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

I am a pitcher and can throw the ball one hundred miles per hour. (Not really, but let us pretend.) Is it true that my hand -- at the moment of release -- must also be moving at that speed? A related question: When does the ball reach maximum speed? (I assume at the release point.)

Yes, if the ball moves at 100 miles per hour, your hand had to move that fast as well. And yes, the maximum velocity of the ball in the forward direction will be at the point of release. If you throw a pitch off the Empire State Building, it may accelerate to a very high speed in the downward direction, but its forward velocity will continuously decrease from the effect of wind resistance.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois

Your hand, or at least your fingers, have to be moving at the same speed as the ball when you let go. At this point the ball has its maximum speed, and it slows down all the way to the catcher.

Tim Mooney

I assume that since there is nothing to accellerate the ball after it is released, the fastest speed is at the point of release. Your fingertips, relative to the ground, has to be moving at 100 mph.

-Wil Lam

Yes and Yes. Newton's Laws of motion require that the ball be at max. speed upon release. After release it can only change direction and slow down due to air resistance.

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory