When base runners come into a bag and perform a well executed slide it can be an act of poetry. Done well, the extension of a player’s body to transition from a sprint to a stop brings style and functionality together into a rhythmic exercise of athleticism. At the same time a poorly executed slide resembles a mix between a crash test dummy and a wounded fowl.
Players don’t have to be uber talented to slide well. Like many of the skills of the game they need to find a technique that fits their abilities and add some attention to detailed instruction in order to achieve the best results. Whether avoiding tags or legally disrupting a fielder’s attempt to turn a double play, base runners can find effective means to improve their slide game with some intake and effort.
The Dirtbags instructional panel for this piece will once again be taking a look at 3 questions to shed some focused attention on some to the particulars of the art of sliding. The coaches include:
- Tyler Drew … 15u
- Jason Slaughter … 17u
- Ben Cassillo … 15u
How should base runners decide which type of slide to use in a situation?
TYLER DREW – Let your instincts take over and do what feel natural in the moment. If you try to think about what you should do and try to change from your instincts not only could you end up sliding awkwardly to hurt yourself but you could look pretty bad doing it also.
JASON SLAUGHTER – Important things to keep in mind when sliding are fielders positioning, timing, knowing the situation, comfort of the player. Example of situational sliding is a throw coming in from the catcher down to second and the SS/2B is playing in front of the bag, we want to slide to the outer part of the bag.
BEN CASSILLO – Here are some easy rules I followed:
- When going back to a base, always dive head first, never feet first.
- When breaking up a double play, go in feet first.
- When going into home, always go feet first, I never wanted to risk injuring a wrist or shoulder by diving into a catcher blocking the plate.
- When advancing to 2nd or 3rd base, slide however you are the most comfortable and however you will get there faster. If you’re not comfortable diving head first, don’t, you’ll probably end up slowing down in your attempt.
What is a sliding tip for base runners coming into a bag and trying to avoid the tag?
TYLER DREW – Be an athlete, it is a lot easier said than done though. The “swim move” takes a lot of athleticism to pull off, so the more control you are of your body to easier it is to do this. Also try to have an idea of where the throw is going if the throw is coming to the right side of the bag, then slide on the left side. When there is a play at the plate, the on deck guy should be letting the runner know which side he should slide to.
JASON SLAUGHTER – A critical point is to read to positioning of the fielder’s glove.
BEN CASSILLO – What is a sliding tip for base runners coming into a bag and trying to avoid the tag?
- At 2B, read the player who is catching the ball to see where on the base he is standing, and go away from him. If you’re stealing 2B and see the SS catching the ball at the front of the bag, aim for the backside & vice versa.
- At 3B, pick up your coach if possible. He should not only be telling you whether you need to slide or stay up, but also to what part of the base to slide.
- At home, pick up the on-deck batter who should be in your direct line of sight, and he’ll direct you to the side of the plate that will help you best avoid the tag.
Do you have any easy sliding drills to help players sharpen their skills to be most effective on the base paths?
TYLER DREW – Sliding on a wet tarp or wet ground is a good way to practice sliding technique. By sliding on a wet surface you can get a good amount of reps in and not have to slide on a hard, dry surface and you can protect yourself from injuries.
JASON SLAUGHTER – Players must become aware of what they are most comfortable with and practice with live play.
BEN CASSILLO – If you have access to a foam pit or into mats at your high school or a local facility, just getting comfortable diving headfirst into a safe object helps to build the muscle memory of diving head first.
Every time you’re on base, make sure you take a look at where the defense is position, especially the OFs. This will help you to make better reads off the bat, help you to take extra bases when possible, and help you to know when you’ll need to slide vs when you can stay on your feet.
Whenever rounding 2B, make sure you’re picking up your 3B coach about 2-3 steps away from the bag. This will help you to run into fewer outs and not cause you to lose any momentum or slow down after already hitting the bag.
We know those responses will give many the exact information they were needing to make their next slide the right one. Be sure to come back next week when the Instructional Friday series takes on 3 questions about HITTING.