Sliding Techniques If You Want to Become a Good Baseball Player

July 27, 2009


If you want to learn how to be a good baseball player, you have to learn how to slide right. There are two different ways to do this. One is called the “leg under,” or “bent leg” slide, and the “hook slide” or “fade away.”

Let’s talk about proper form for the hook slide first. Sit down with legs in front of you, and turn to the right to so that your weight is on your right hip. Bend your left leg so that your calf is facing at a 90-degree angle to your thigh. That foot’s toe is your “hooking foot.” Raise your hands over your head and lower your torso until your back touches the ground. Swing your right foot right ever so slightly and raise a couple of inches off the ground. That is a hook slide to the right.

You can do it on the other side, too, and reach for the corner of the base with the toe of your right foot instead of your left.

When you make the hook slide, remember that you need to spread your weight out as much as possible and get your back on the ground. Keep the foot that’s not hooking the base (the one on the outside) off the ground. If you don’t, you risk injuring yourself because your spikes can catch in the dirt and your body weight sliding forward may turn your ankle down and out, which can cause a sprain or even a break. And don’t jump at the base when you make the slide. Slide up to the base instead. Keep your hands off the ground, too.

If you keep your hands on the ground, you may cut yourself badly or get a bad wrist sprain. If you have trouble keeping your hands off the ground, pick some dirt up in each hand when you get on base and hang on to it until the slide is finished.

Now, for the “leg under” slide. Sit down again with your legs out in front of you, and put your bent right leg under your left, so that your right shin faces the base you are going to slide into. Roll over on your right hip ever so slightly and again, raise your hands over your head. If you think the play is going to be close and you want to go straight into the base, make sure your back is fully down and reach for the base with your left toe. For the opposite side, simply reverse positions.

If you want to make sure you stop at the base, or if you intend to continue onward, ride in on your bent leg until it touches the base. Your top foot should go over the base and bring it down on the other side. Then, spring upward to be on your feet again and ready to go on.

To get an idea of this, sit in the bent leg position and then ask someone to grab one of your hands and pull you up. You’ll see that you’ll come up naturally to your feet.

If you’re going to slide, commit to it and slide

One absolute rule about sliding is important for everyone. If you’re going to slide, slide. Don’t start to slide and then change your mind in the middle of it.

And it’s important to recognize that if someone is making a play on you at second or third base, always slide as a safety resort. That’s because running can cause problems, which can increase your chances of being tagged out. You can slow up and not overrun the bag, true, but that can risk being tagged out, as does overrunning the bag in general. Of course, you can overrun home plate, but don’t go into the base standing up unless you know what’s going to happen and the catcher is not going to try to tag you. If there’s any doubt, slide.

If you can only slide on one side (such as the right or left), use a hand to tag the base. If you going to second base, for example, to be the throw from left field, the second baseman to leave the left side of the base open for you. If you can only slide on the right side, you should do that. Again, go to the third-base side of second, though, and grab the base with your right hand as you are sliding in.

You can practice sliding at one of two places: a jumping pit used for track and field events, or at the beach. Either way, though, never jump at the base, which again is a waste of energy and it’s something you can easily (erroneously) learn to do at one of these two places during baseball training.

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