How to Slide

By Doug Bernier

Sliding is how we get into a base as quickly as possible while maintaining contact with the bag (i.e. not over running it and risk getting tagged). Sliding can be used to stop or redirect our momentum, break up a double play on the bases, or make a tag play more difficult by using a hook slide.

There are three types of slides in baseball: Feet first (or pop up), head first, or hook slide.

Feet First or Pop Up Slide
This is the most useful of the slides, and the safest. When in doubt, go feet first. This method of sliding can be used in any situation. This is also known as the pop up slide because if you do it correctly you will be able to use your momentum when you hit the bag to pop up quickly and continue running if needed.

How to Pop Up Slide
One of your legs is going to be extended and will make contact with the bag. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Your ankle of your other leg will be placed under your straight legs hamstring. This will look similar to the number “4”. You will keep both your hands up. This is so when you make contact with the ground you will not slam your wrists in the ground and break a wrist. You will make contact with the ground with your bent knee and the upper part of the back of your straight leg.

Head First Slide
The head first slide may get you into the base a little quicker than going feet first, but there is a higher risk of injury.

Benefits: Head first is thought of as the quickest way of sliding into a base. This is because you keep your momentum going forward opposed to having to sit back on your legs or back side.

It can also be beneficial because sometimes you can manipulate the slide a little by shifting your hands to try to avoid a tag.

Downsides: Head first should not be used when sliding into home plate at any time (the catcher with all his gear on can do some damage to your fingers and your shoulders if you come in head first). Also, sliding head first when trying to break up a double play is illegal, and you and the hitter will be called out.

Sliding head first can be dangerous. Some guys have broken fingers by hitting the base the wrong way, or if an infielder jumps and lands on them. Also, if a infielder jumps and comes down on your arms or shoulders you can really hurt your shoulders.

Some teams are really starting to advise their players to stop sliding head first and to get used to sliding feet first.

How to slide head first, and tips to prevent injury

  • As you are running start your lean forward.
  • Extend your body forward and try to keep your forearms and hands out in front of you.
  • Cock your wrist back so when your hands make contact with the bag, the heels of your palm will hit it and not your fingers. This will help to prevent finger injuries.

Hook Slide
The hook is a spin off of the regular feet first slide. The only difference is that instead of making contact with your foot, you will slide feet first but to one side or the other and grab the base with one of your hands.

This is very useful especially on a play at home plate. It gives the defender making the tag less body to touch. Also, when done correctly you can move your hand so you can avoid the glove that is trying to tag you. When hook sliding into home you can hit the back corner of the plate with a real quick hand movement that can be difficult to tag.

You can use this at other bases as well, especially if a throw is taking a defender to one side of the bag. In this instance you can slide to the other side of the bag and grab with your hand.

How to Hook Slide
The mechanics are the same as the feet first slide, except you’ll be sliding to one side or the other and reach back with your hand to grab the bag.

You can also use the hook slide when trying to break up a double play at second base. The rule in professional baseball, is you can make contact with an infielder as long as you can touch the bag with any part of your body.

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger’s AAA team the Round Rock Express.

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