Sliding into base can mean the difference between a win and a loss. It’s a skill that every player needs in their repertoire. The problem is that it’s rarely taught and when it is taught it’s not well instructed. A slide is not a natural move. Your body does not naturally fall into a productive slide. Without the right mechanics, a slide can be dangerous and not to be tried. Learning how to do a proper slide will give you, and your team, the edge you need.
The very first and possibly the most important rule for sliding is to lose the fear. No matter what your skill level is or what slide you are doing, fear will cripple you and make a successful slide impossible. Fear creates hesitation and hesitation is the death of any slide. Most of the fear leading up to the move is fear of getting hurt. The truth of the matter is that having that fear will make you more likely to get hurt. You must approach this move with zero fear, every time. This cannot be stressed enough. A good slide happens at top speed. Never slow down in preparation for the slide. There is no jump, leap, or fall into the slide. Fear makes these kinds of improper slides happen.
To help remove this fear, you need to prepare physically by knowing how to move through the slide properly. The initial, basic slide is known as the Bent Leg Slide or Figure Four Slide. Different variations of sliding are based on this one. You are moving at full speed and switch to a sitting position while still in motion. Your lead leg will extend outward toward the base while the other leg is bent and folded under you. The layout of your legs while in this slide look like a “4”. Checking this leg formation can help you see if you are placing legs correctly in the move. Also keep in mind hand and head placement. Hands on the ground or head reclined back can lead to injuries. Do not do this.
From this slide you can create a number of other variations.
This move takes the Bent Leg Slide to the next level by allowing the runner to plant their cleats at the base and pop up on the base. This allows running to another base if there is a infielder error in throwing the ball.
This allows the runner to avoid being tagged by sliding aside the base. The runner will hook their toe around to touch the base while throwing their body away from the prospect of being out.
This slide is a last ditch effort to avoid an out. If the ball is already at the base waiting for you then you would slide to the outside of the base and reach to tag it with your hand. As the infielder reaches to tag that hand out, roll your body and touch the base with the other hand.
You can also learn to do a Head First Slide. In reality this will be a hands first move. While at top speed, simply lean into the slide. You will fall or dive forward. Make sure to keep palms down and fingers up. Your chest and palms will break your fall for the most part and should protect you from injury. Make sure when doing this slide that you don’t throw your body upward, but literally dive forward instead. This will maximize the move. This slide is the fastest slide so use when the moment is dire!
To see some of these sliding techniques in action, check out the Red Sox video below.