One of the most important facets in the game of baseball is sliding. A proper slide can be the difference between being safe or called out on a close play. Even more importantly, the purpose of sliding is to prevent injury to ourselves as well as the fielder. The basic idea behind a slide is to continue our momentum as we run towards the base, therefore we must remember to not stutter step into a slide or slow down at all. The proper sliding technique will let us transition from our top speed to a complete stop on the base without shocking the joints or causing any type of harm to our body.
Note: Sit on the ground on your rear with legs outstretched as a starting point for this tutorial.
Sliding – Your Bottom Half
- Legs – With both legs outstretched straight, you’ll want to tuck one of your legs underneath the other (whatever is more comfortable) so that your foot will rest underneath the knee of your other leg.
- Your legs should now slightly resemble the number “4”
- The foot of your outstretched leg should be slightly off the ground with your toes pointed towards the sky.
- The reason behind this is to not let your cleat catch the ground as you slide and cause you to roll your ankle.
Sliding – Your Upper Half
- Core – Keep your core tight and supported as you start to go into your slide. You will have a slight lean which is explained below.
- Arms – Throw your hands up into the air as you start to go into your slide. Do NOT throw your arms and core BACK when you start to slide
This is a common mistake. I have seen ballplayers hit the back of their helmet on the ground causing that to slow down and sometimes even get hurt.
- Hands – Always keep your hands up in the air; don’t let your arms drop and your hands drag on the ground.
This is the quickest way to scrape and cut your hands, twist your wrist, or break a finger.
- Note: You will have a slight lean (this is natural) to the side where your leg is tucked under; make sure to not roll over on your side.
You can accomplish this by keeping your core tight and supported
When to Start Your Slide
- Start your slide approximately 3-5 feet before the base.
- – Set up a cone about 4 feet from the base and start your slide from there. Depending on your speed and ability to slide, determine which distance is most comfortable so that you don’t slide past the base or stop too far in front of it.
The Pop-Up Slide
- Purpose – The Pop-Up Slide provides us with a way to explode back to our feet after our slide and be prepared to take another base if necessary.
- Mechanics – This takes a good amount of core strength. As you generate the maximum amount of momentum into your slide, use it to thrust your body back to your feet and into the “athletic position”
- – Have a coach or teammate stand on the other side of a sliding mat or base with their hand outstretched. As you slide, keep in mind that you want to grab their hand at the completion of your slide. As you grab their hand have them yank you to your feet to understand the feeling of the Pop-Up Slide. Keep practicing until you don’t need them!
ADVANCED TIP – SLIDING INTO FIRST
- Purpose – On a high throw to first, the 1st baseman jumps to catch the ball and tries to tag you on his way back down. This slide provides a way to avoid the tag.
- Mechanics – This is just like a regular slide, the only difference is you must notice the 1st basemen’s feet before you pull the trigger on the slide. If you see him bend his knees and start to jump up, start sliding approximately 3 -5 feet from the base and slide slightly out towards foul territory and reach for the base with your hand. This will ensure that on a close play he will be unable to tag you.
Sliding is a crucial tool for base runners. The better you can become as a base runner, the more of a threat you are to the other team. Make sure to follow the mechanics I have laid out in this document in order to prevent injury and be SAFE!
Q: How do I practice sliding, won’t it hurt?
A: This is a great question, because unlike throwing, hitting, or running; sliding can be abrasive to the body, especially If performed incorrectly. Here at ProSwing we have a “sliding mat” which makes it comfortable to slide while also allowing you to perfect your skill. When you sign up for your next lesson, tell your ProSwing Coach that you want to work on sliding! Every one of our certified staff has extensive knowledge of sliding and can help you. If you are on your own, make sure to wear baseball pants and go to a field where the dirt isn’t extremely dry. If you start to feel bruises or “raspberries” on your sides, your mechanics are incorrect. A proper slide will only leave a dirt stain on your pants!
Q: What about a headfirst slide? That’s what guys in the MLB do!
A: The headfirst slide is also a powerful tool to have as a base runner. It is also a very advanced type of slide with a much greater risk of injury. We will have a ProSwing Tip of the Week pertaining to this slide but I must warn you, it is for advanced baseball players only. The reason that professionals in the MLB perform this slide is because they are professionals in the MLB! While it can grant you better body control, a more targeted reach, and better overall vision, the risk of injury to the fingers, head, and torso are too much for a young athlete to attempt. A slide with your feet first can be just as effective as a headfirst slide, remember that!