How to Slide Smoothly and Safely
Is there anything more fun in baseball?
By Richard Todd, Head Coach, WebBall Baseball, as published on WePlay.com
Sliding in for an extra base on a hit or a clean steal is a great accomplishment.
- If you enjoy it, you'll be relaxed.
- If you're relaxed you're body will land more softly.
Note to Coaches: Because sliding may be required after a hit as well as on a base-to-base steal, it's an important basic skill to learn. Many kids take to it readily, but not all.
Start by learning your normal leg tuck.
Hold yourself up in a crab-walk - back to the ground, arms out to the side, knees bent.
Let go. As your arms go up, one leg usually tucks itself under as you flop down.
Tuck that same leg under when you slide, with the lead leg over top, slightly bent.
Next, try some simple slides on grass, cleats off. (Wear old clothes for this one - you will get grass stains - and it helps if the grass is slightly damp - a morning practice with dew.)
Do it first without a base as a target, then do some with a base (not anchored), to judge distance.
Take a 10-20' run up, and while you're still in motion just sit down - lifting your arms up over your head as you tuck one leg under and bend the lead leg slightly - lead foot about half a foot of the ground.
The Pop Up
The bent lead leg is important for the next step - the pop up at the bag.
As you reach your target, bring the lead foot down and plant it.
Your body will naturally come up. Use your tucked leg to stop, regain your balance, and be ready to take off for the next base on an overthrow. (Look to your coach for instruction.)
The Arm Hook
Sometimes you want to slide in off the bag to avoid a close tag.
Do everything the same as above, but aim your lead leg 2 to 3 feet beside the bag, and keep it raised (no pop-up).
As you slide by, extend your arm to grab the bag and maintain contact.
If necessary, roll onto your hip, or fan your legs out to brake.
Risks of injury include bent fingers, twisted forearms, scraped face, concussion, or worse. Any questions?