In this article, I am going to guide how you should teach sliding in baseball. Sliding saves a baserunner from tag out when it is a close play. Learning how to slide is essential for a baseball player who is at a beginner or intermediate level. If you do not practice it properly, then trying to learn it by yourself can be dangerous. It can cause serious injury. After learning to hit a baseball, sliding to base should be the next lesson.
You will also learn about different sliding techniques and drills. I think it is going to be helpful for the ones who are teaching or learning Baseball sliding.
Teaching Figure 4 or the Bent leg slide in Baseball
Bent leg slide is the most common type of slide to teach in baseball. The drill comprises two different steps. In the first step, you need to just sit on the ground and practice the right placement of the legs, arms, and body. At the second step, the player should practice the actual figure 4 slide on a smooth surface.
Step 1 : Sit on the ground
- You should first sit on the ground where you are practicing.
- If you are right-handed, then extend your right leg. Left-handed players should extend their left leg on the ground.
- If you are right-handed, then bend your left leg and place your ankle and foot under the extended leg. Left-handed players should do the opposite.
- Your position should resemble number 4. The player should raise his hand up in the air.
Step 2 : The actual sliding practice
- Take three or four steps towards the ground where you prefer to slide.
- If you are right-handed, extend your right leg at the final step as practiced on step 1. Left-handed players should do the opposite.
- While descending to the ground, the other leg should be bent under the butt.
- The player should raise the hand as well while descending.
- The player should slide on his rear until he touches the base bag.
- After that, the player gets up and does the whole thing again.
Teaching Head-first slide in Baseball
Remember when teaching in baseball that this type of slide is more prone to injury. Therefore, you should not teach this to an inexperienced player. When a baseball player needs to touch the base bag more quickly, he should resort to the head-first slide. In this technique, the player touches the bag by hand instead of the feet. It is the quickest way of sliding.
- Run three to four steps and lean forward.
- Stretch your forearms and hand in front.
- When you are touching the ground, pull back on the wrists instead of fingers.
- The palms of your hand should touch the base bag instead of any other part of the body.
Teaching Hook slide in Baseball
A hook slide is a version of the position-4 slide. Here the player touches the bag with the hand instead of his legs. Below are the steps to teach the hook slide in baseball:
- Approach to the practicing ground. Take three or four steps.
- On your final step, extend one of your legs and bend the other.
- Raise the hand that is far from the base bag. Instead of two hands, you should raise only one hand.
- Lean your body to the side of the base bag while sliding.
- Now touch the base bag with the hand that you raised.
- You should practice both sides of the base bags following the above steps.
Sliding Mistakes in Baseball to Avoid While Teaching
Trying a head-first slide is dangerous for the youngsters. Teach the Head-first slide is only for intermediate and experienced baseball players. Do not teach this to the youngsters. However, if you are practicing with an experienced coach, then you may carefully try it. Never try head-first slide if objects such as baseball bats are near you. It may cause serious injury.
Keeping the hands down while sliding is another common mistake. The hand can be slammed on the ground or stepped by the opponent player. To avoid this mistake, coaches sometimes suggest catching balls while sliding.
Apart from the above mistakes, some youth baseball leagues do not allow head-first slides. Therefore, be aware of the rules of the leagues you are playing beforehand. At the same time sliding to home plate like a pro is something to see.
The practice ground
If you are teaching sliding to beginners baseball player, you need to prepare the practice ground carefully. The practice should be on a slippery surface with minimum friction. A wet tarp can be ideal for young children for practicing. You can maintain a continuous water flow on the tarp to keep the surface slippery enough.
If you can not arrange the above, then practice on a field with long grasses. It will be less sticky than a field with thin grasses. If you are very new to baseball, then remove your shoes during practicing as the shoes can be sticky as well.
Why you should learn sliding?
The prime importance of sliding is to avoid injury. Those that are good outfielders might throw at the base might hit you as well. The base area is the place where the opposition party wants to get you out. Therefore, when you are near the base, making sure that your head is away from the ball is important for safety. Even if you wear a batting helmet, your head should be away from the ball thrown near the base area. When you slide, your body and head remain down. Therefore, you are safe from possible injuries.
Saving oneself from an out is another reason for sliding. When you are lowering down your body during sliding, the fielder needs more time to tag you out. Therefore, to save yourself from being tagged out on bases other than the first base, you need to slide properly. Long story short, you need to slide to save yourself from injury and being tagged out.
For better understand just watch this video!
Other than these three common sliding techniques, there are few other sliding methods to teach in baseball such as popup slides, backdoor slides, take-out slides, and so on. However, if you can learn the three major types of slides I have described, learning all other sliding techniques will be easier for you. On the other hand, the teaching method will differ considering the level of the player. Children should be taught extremely carefully while intermediate-level players should practice advanced drills.