If you’re just starting to learn about baseball, one of the lessons you’ll need to learn is how to slide in baseball.
It’s a crucial part of base running, and in some ways it is just as important as fielding a ball cleanly or throwing hard and accurately.
Why Do You Need to Slide?
When you’re racing to first base from home plate, you don’t need to slide at all.
You’re more likely to get hurt, and at the same time you don’t get any benefits because it actually takes longer to reach 1st base.
But for 2nd, 3rd, and home plate, it’s often imperative that you slide to the base.
So here are some reasons why you need to slide to a base.
You don’t get hit by a throw. The area around the base is where the ball goes when the opposing team is trying to get you out.
So it’s important that when you’re near the base your body and head aren’t anywhere near where the ball may possibly go through even having a batting helmet. When you slide, your head and body are safely down and out of the way.
You don’t get tagged out. Unlike on first base, getting you out on the other bases sometimes means you have to be tagged out by the fielder covering the base.
But when you slide, your body is down low to the ground. So you can reach the base while the fielder has to take more time bending down to tag you out.
You don’t go past the base. Again unlike on first base, on the 2nd or 3rd base when you reach base you need to stay there unless you really mean to get to the next base.
If you step on 2nd base and you step off, then a fielder who maintains their tag on you gets you out.
You can “take out” a fielder to interfere with a defensive play. Let’s say you’re on first base, and the next batter makes contact.
It’s possible the opposing team can throw to 2nd and then to 1st base for a double play.
But if you slide directly towards the fielder covering 2nd base, you may distract them long enough. Distract them so that they can’t throw to first base in time. With this slide, you only have 1 out instead of 2.
Additional Tips on How To Slide in Baseball
Types of Slides
You can learn several ways of how to slide into a base. Here are some of the most common:
Feet First. This is probably the safest way to slide, and for young or new players it’s considered the only proper way to slide in baseball.
It can be used for any situation, and it’s the slide that minimizes the risk of injury.
In addition, with practice you can also learn to popup quickly once you reach base, so that you also have the option of sprinting to the next base if possible.
To slide feet first, you extend one leg and fold the other one so you’re doing a “figure 4” with your legs.
As you slide, you keep your hands up (similar to a surrendering gesture). Do that so you don’t slam and break a wrist when it hits the ground.
You slide on your butt and not on your legs, and you always keep your hands up. This minimizes the pain, and reduces the risk of injury considerably.
Head First. This looks cools on TV, but it’s not recommended at all unless you’re older and more experienced.
In some leagues that involve young players, the head first slide may not be allowed at all.
But for older players and professionals, it may be useful to know how to slide headfirst in baseball, because it’s a bit faster than sliding feet first.
To do this, you start leaning forward while you’re running towards base. Then you extend your body forward while you’re in a “flying Superman” pose.
Make sure that it’s the heels of your palm that hits the ground and not your fingers, so you don’t hurt your fingers.
Hook Slide. This is like sliding feet first, except you touch the base with a hand instead of a leg.
This can be how to slide into home plate which minimizes your chances of getting tagged. It’s also used to take out a fielder to break up a double play.
To do this, you just slide feet first, but you slide towards the side of the bag opposite the side where the fielder is. That way, you’re more difficult to tag out and you can move your hand to avoid the tagging glove.
How to Properly Slide in Baseball Without Getting Hurt
Most Common Sliding Mistakes
Sliding into first. This is an absolute no-no when you’re trying to reach first from home plate.
For older players, the only time slide to 1st base is when you took a huge lead trying to steal 2nd base and then the pitcher throws towards first base.
You’ll need to slide head fist in this case. So if you’re coming from home plate, you need to automatically run through first base as if you’re a sprinter going through the finish line tape.
Sliding head first. This is a mistake if you’re too young or inexperienced. Unless you have a coach who’s trained you to do this properly, you really need to refrain from this.
You have to practice a lot before you can do this properly.
One final note of caution: please don’t slide head first into objects such as baseball bats near home plate.
Putting the hands down. This is another mistake, which is why coaches sometimes lob baseballs for young players to catch during sliding drills to emphasize the importance of keeping the hands up.
The hands may slam into the ground, or it may get stepped on by a fielder, and those will cause injuries.
Final Thoughts on Learning How To Slide in Baseball
Now if you’re a coach of young players, you really need to teach them how to slide in baseball safely and effectively.
Use tarp or cardboard at first to practice the mechanics, and go at half speed first. Then take your practice to the field.
Just like learning how to hit the baseball better you must practice.
Have fun, and good luck!
Need Sliding Shorts This Season?
Here are some fine options in case you need sliding shorts for the upcoming season.