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Fans of different sports – and players too – love to talk about which sport is the hardest. It’s an interesting question, because there are so many possibilities but no clear answer. There is one sport, however, that will probably come up more than the rest.
Many people consider baseball to be the hardest sport to play, because it requires high-level athletic capabilities and motor skills, as well as brainpower and mental strength. Baseball players also need endurance and perseverance, as it is a long journey to the major leagues and each baseball season is a long journey in and of itself.
Some people think baseball looks easy, because the players spend much of the game standing in place or sitting in the dugout. However, baseball requires just as much athletic prowess as any other sport, as well as many other skills and abilities. Baseball is undeniably hard to play, and there is a reason that those who do possess the skills to succeed at baseball can have long and lucrative careers.
1. Playing Baseball Requires Athletic Capabilities
The most necessary athletic skills for baseball are strength, speed, and stamina.
Strength is critical for playing baseball. Both pitchers and fielders need arm strength in order to throw the ball as far and as fast as they do. Some fielders have to throw the ball hundreds of feet, while pitchers are expected to throw as fast as 90-100 miles per hour. What’s more, batters need strength in order to swing the bat fast enough to make contact with a pitch, and they need power in order to hit the ball far enough to get a hit or home run.
In addition to strength, speed is an important part of the game. Speed is important for both offensive and defensive players — they need speed in the field in order to reach the ball and make plays, and they need speed on the basepaths in order to run the bases and score.
Beyond brute strength and quick footspeed, baseball players also need stamina. A game can last more than three hours, and the players need to maintain their power and speed throughout.
2. Baseball Requires Several High Skill Levels
In addition to the general athletic skills that baseball necessitates, the sport also requires many high-level skills of the mind and body.
Batters need their eyesight to make decisions about which pitches to swing at. Pitches come toward the batter at 85 to 100 MPH from only 60 feet away. They have very little time to decide if a pitch is a ball or a strike – or if it’s coming right at them. Similarly, catchers must have excellent eyesight behind home plate in order to catch every pitch that comes their way.
Baseball also requires perfect accuracy, which is where hand-eye coordination comes into play. Fielders must be able to throw at an exact target as quickly as possible. They often don’t have time to think about where they’re throwing before they let go of the ball. Therefore, they must rely on their hand-eye coordination to make sure their throws are accurate.
Quick reaction time is another important skill for baseball players. Once again, this is because the players often have to make decisions in very little time. Hitters have to know where to swing as soon as they see the ball, and fielders have to know which direction to move almost as soon as the ball comes off the bat.
3. Baseball Players Need Brainpower
Baseball isn’t just a game of the body, it requires a sharp mind too. Players must always be thinking to best prepare their next move. This means having a very solid understanding of what’s going on in the game and what could happen next. This is often referred to as “baseball IQ”.
Brainpower is also important for ballplayers because the game requires a strong memory. Every player — whether they are pitching, batting, or fielding — has a game plan that they must follow. The plan changes for every new batter, pitcher, or situation, so players must possess a strong memory in order to retain all that information.
4. Playing Baseball Requires Mental Strength, Too
Baseball players must be durable in their bodies, but also their minds. In perhaps no other sport is failure more common. Pitchers aren’t always going to throw strikes, batters aren’t always going to get hits, and fielders aren’t always going to make plays. Moreover, even the very best professional baseball teams still lose 50 to 70 games per year.
In order to get through an at-bat or a game, or especially a season, baseball players must have the mental strength and emotional toughness to handle this failure. If a player is going to be too hard on themselves after one mistake or one loss, it’s going to affect their performance later on.
5. It’s a Long, Hard Journey to the Major Leagues
In some sports, the very best athletes can find glory and success early on in their careers. Many professional basketball players began their NBA careers as young as 18 or 19, and many top-level Olympic athletes begin even earlier.
In baseball, however, it’s not uncommon for a player to make their major league debut at 24 years old — sometimes even later. After players are drafted or signed, they usually spend several years in the minor leagues working on their craft before they are ready for MLB. To make things harder, most of these players will never even make the majors. That means they can put in years of hard work without even knowing if they will ever be rewarded with major league glory or salaries.
6. The Major League Baseball Season is Long
The Major League Baseball regular season is 162 games long and lasts for six months, from April to September. Players begin training for the regular season in February, and the postseason can run into November. In other words, the Major League Baseball season is long, and players hardly ever get a break for more than a day at a time. Not only that, but the season requires a lot of traveling from city to city, meaning players might be away from their homes and their families for extended periods of time.
7. Baseball Is a Team Sport, and One Player Can’t Do Everything
One thing that can be hard for team-sport athletes of any level to accept is that they cannot do everything themselves. Even the most talented players need the help of those around them to succeed, and if they are not on a strong enough team, it does not matter how good they are individually. This is more true in baseball than in almost any other sport.
Even the best hitter comes up to bat only four or five times in a game. Even the best starting pitchers are only able to pitch once every five games. This can be frustrating for players, because even if they do their very best, it isn’t always enough.
8. Baseball Has a Smaller Playoff Field Than Most Sports
Not only is baseball hard for the individual players, it is also a hard sport for entire teams. In Major League Baseball, only twelve teams make the postseason. As recently as 2021, only ten teams made the postseason. Thus, fewer teams make the playoffs in MLB than in most other American professional sports leagues, including the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLS.
What Is The Hardest Thing About Baseball? (200-300 characters)
While nearly everyone can agree that baseball is hard, it’s harder to agree on what the hardest part of the game is. However, it is probably one of three skills: hitting the ball, throwing a pitch accurately, or fielding a ball off the bat.
Hitting is so difficult because pitches come in so fast that hitters only have a split second to decide whether or not to swing and even less time to decide where to swing. Throwing a pitch is so difficult because it must be fast enough to catch hitters off guard, but also accurate enough to be called a strike. Throwing a ball at 95 MPH into a small square from 60 feet away is a tough task indeed. Finally, fielding the ball is incredibly difficult, especially in the infield. Balls can come off the bat faster than they come out of the pitcher’s hand, and infielders must be prepared to catch those balls wherever they land.
Is Anything About Baseball Easy?
Baseball rosters are larger than rosters in sports like basketball and hockey. An MLB team can have 26 players on the active roster at any time, plus many more players available in the minor leagues. A baseball team might use as many as 60 players in any one season. This means more players have an opportunity to reach the big leagues in baseball than in some other sports. This still doesn’t mean it’s easy – but it’s one thing about baseball that is a little easier than other sports.