Is hitting a baseball the hardest thing to do in sports?

Before I learned how to walk, I was swinging a baseball bat.  My dad made up his mind that I would play baseball, and I never had a choice but to play it and love playing it.  As a child up to a teenager, baseball was my life.  I played in two leagues as a child, so my whole life were devoted to baseball, where I would have a game on Saturday and two games on Sunday, and practices multiple days a week.  Once I got to high school, practices/games were every day of the week.  Despite countless hours of practice, I can easily say that hitting a baseball is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but is it the hardest task to do in all of sports?


Just merely making contact with a baseball is extremely difficult on its own, but contact itself is not always good.  The point in baseball is to hit it where the fielders are not.  Making solid contact with a ball gives you a much greater chance of getting a hit.  Lets start of by looking at some basic statistics.  The diameter of a baseball is 3 inches long.  The sweet spot (area on the bat where you will hit the ball the hardest) is 2.75 inches, less than the diameter of the baseball.  Home plate has a width of 17 inches and an average height of 36 inches.  The area of home plate is roughly 612 square inches, while the area of the ball is just over 7 square inches.  This means that the ball, which you have to hit, takes up less than 2% of all the area which is a strike.

The average major league fastball sits at 95 miles per hour, but can reach speeds over 100 mph.  Over the course of a major league fastball’s trip to home plate, the ball drops at an overage of 1.3 inches.  When facing a 95 mph fastball, a hitter has just .43 seconds to decide if they want to swing or not.  This means that in less than a half of a second, the batter has to identify that it is a fastball, determine where the pitch will end up, and figure out if they want to swing.

Next we have the changeup.  A changeup averages 85 miles per hour, with an average vertical drop of 2.1 inches and a reaction time of .48 seconds.  The purpose of a changeup is to deceive the batter in thinking that it is a fastball.  The ball is thrown with the same arm speed as a fastball and when the pitch is coming, it has the allusion of a fastball.  The hitter, thinking it is a fastball, will often swing early, causing them to miss the ball or make weak contact.

The next pitch is the curveball, which comes in at about 77 miles per hour, giving the hitter a reaction time of .53 seconds.  What makes this pitch so difficult to hit is the movement of the ball.  This pitch drops at an average of 14.1 inches, meaning that from the time the ball is released from the pitchers hand to the time it reaches the batter, it drops over a foot.  Not only does it move vertically, but horizontally as well.  A curveball has the ability to start on one side of the plate, and move over to the other side.  Hitting any of these pitches when knowing what is coming is a challenging task, but when the pitcher mixes what pitches they throw and where they throw it in no particular order, hitting a baseball becomes nearly impossible.


I understand that there are many other extremely difficult things to do in sports.  Boxing is known to be the hardest pound by pound sport in the world. In boxing, you have to be able to throw punches, dodge punches, and take punches.  Boxing is very hard and both physically and mentally exhausting to the body.  Ice hockey is also a very challenging sport.  Being a very good skater on its own is extremely difficult, but to be able to pass the puck, hit the opponent, and shoot the puck, while skating, takes serious talent.  According to ESPN, Boxing and Ice hockey are rated as the two hardest sports in the world.   I’m not saying baseball in general is harder than any of those two sports, as defense is a lot easier than offense, but to me, specifically hitting a baseball is harder than any specific task in any sport.  There is no true way to prove if hitting a baseball is the hardest task in sports, though, because the word “hardest” is just a a matter of opinion.

4 thoughts on “Is hitting a baseball the hardest thing to do in sports?

  1. crn5144

    Very interesting article and strong argument. I would also like to argue the difficulty of hitting a golf ball. As I have never stepped up to the plate to try to hit a 100mph fastball, so I cant really attest to how difficult that is, but I can try to explain how hard it is to hit a golf ball. You may think it cant be that hard, the ball isn’t moving, but it is not that simple. A golf ball is 1.68 inches in diameter. To make a solid strike, you need to meet a sweet spot of about the size of a quarter on the end of a 4 foot long stick with the center dimple of this ball. The club face must be perfectly square to the target line or your ball could go sailing way off line. A few degrees open or closed could result in your ball flying hundreds of feet off line. There are actually a lot of factors that have to come together in a very short time to make solid contact with a golf ball.

  2. Jacob Alexander Loffredo

    As a lifelong baseball player I love everything about this blog. I played baseball all my life and have spent countless hours standing in the batters box hitting, hitting a baseball is 100% the hardest thing to do in all sports. People who play sports like football or basketball will strongly disagree but attempting to hit a small spherical object only about 9 inches in circumference traveling at 100 MPH is way harder than running up and down a court throwing a ball in a hoop or as in football; if your fast and can catch a ball some would say your good enough to play. The statistic you stated about how the ball only takes up 2% of the strike zone is just another point that proves how hard it really is to hit a baseball. Here is a awesome website that also explains how tough it is to hit that 100 MPH fastball.

  3. Thomas Tatem Moore

    This article is one I can really relate to as a player who has played many sports throughout my life. Consistently I played three sports, football, baseball and basketball. And often I found the hardest thing to do in those three sports was hitting in baseball. And this was at a youth level. There are many scientific studies that dig deep into this question and find what is really the hardest thing to do in sports. I can’t imagine anything harder than anticipating whether you are going to get a 98 MPH fastball or a 75 MPH curveball on any given pitch like MLB hitters have to do. Here is a video describing one of the toughest pitchers to hit in the MLB, Aroldis Chapman; and how hard it is to actually hit him.

  4. Michael David Kresovich

    Hey great article! I think this is so fascinating in many ways, mostly because I have wondered this question too. I played baseball for my entire life and have always wondered if hitting a baseball was the most difficult thing to do in sports. With velocity and strength increasing every year, I found myself struggling to adapt to the different and new pitches each season, even in the MLB it is challenging to hit a 95 mph slider, in my opinion it is the hardest to do in sports

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