Want to ensure your success in stealing bases? Want those close plays to be ruled in your favor? If so, you’ll need to know how to slide in softball.
Sliding will get you dirty, but it can also give your team a much-needed advantage. There are four slides that every player should know.
Keep reading for information about each type of slide. We’ll also cover tips for how to slide in softball.
Types of Slides
In softball, there are four main types of slides. You’ll want to know which slides to use, depending on the situation.
The basic slide is the most commonly used technique. With this slide, you get low to the ground after sprinting full speed ahead.
To complete the basic slide, your right leg will end up touching the base. The momentum that you build during your sprint should be enough to propel you to the base.
During the slide, ensure you lean back and tuck your left leg to form a number 4.
Pop-up slides are a bit more advanced. The purpose is to finish the slide and get into a running position. This allows you to be ready to advance to the next base if there is time.
The pop-up slide is the same as the basic slide. However, at the end of the slide, you’ll need to use your left leg to pop your body into a standing position.
Hook slides get you to a base quickly but also keep you from being tagged. This slide angles your body around the base, which reduces the chance of being tagged.
Follow the same steps as the basic slide. But, instead of sliding into the base, slide towards the outside. Once you’re near the base, you want to hook onto it using your left hand.
Running towards home? Be sure to drag your left hand on the base.
The key with this slide is to not slide past the base. Time your sprint to ensure you’re able to properly hook onto the base.
This dive can be the trickiest to master. The head-first dive allows you to potentially dive under a tag. The key is to get as low to the bag as possible.
With the head-first dive, as you begin to slide, you lean forward instead of back. Bend your knees and use your hands to direct you to the base.
This dive is also useful for getting back to a base.
7 Tips for How to Slide in Softball
Sliding may look easy, but when done incorrectly, sliding can lead to a host of injuries. The most common injuries from sliding are ankle sprains and knee injuries.
Here are 7 tips for mastering how to slide in softball.
1. Be Prepared for Sliding
When you’re mid-slide, the last thing you want to worry about is your preparedness. Second-guessing will slow you down and can end up in an “out!” call.
Erase any doubt in your mind by preparing to slide well before the game starts.
Preparation should include:
- Stretching the legs and feet
- Properly warming up (do a few laps around the diamond)
- Wear comfortable and protective shoes
- Wear pants to lessen the risk of cuts and abrasions
- Wear sliding shorts
2. Know Which Slide to Use
Knowing how to slide in softball is one part of the equation. Knowing the different types of slides and when to use them is just as important.
Consider the positions of the players in the infield when determining which slide is best. Always be mindful of the location of the ball as well.
If your next base is wide open and the ball is loose, consider a pop-up slide. Get back to a stolen base quickly with a headfirst dive.
3. Sprint as Fast as You Can
Aggressive base running is part of softball, so this step may seem easy.
When you are sprinting and preparing to dive, you’ll want to sprint as fast as possible. This will ensure your body has enough momentum to propel you towards the base.
Want to boost your sprint speed?
- Practice running and sprinting outside of the diamond
- Focus on your core and posture
- Land on your forefoot and push off using your toes
- Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle
- Practice shorter strides
4. Perfect Your Slide Timing
Knowing how to slide in softball is all about perfect timing. If you slide too soon or too late, your slide could end up costing you an out.
As a rule of thumb, start sliding when you are about four steps from the base. Unsure of what this distance is? Now is the time to learn it!
Take a few minutes before the game to walk to the base.
Count the number of steps it takes you to get there. You’ll also want to eye up the distance between the base and your remaining four steps.
5. Make a Four With Your Legs
Unless you’re doing a diving slide, your legs will want to be in the shape of a 4. As you start to slide:
- Bend your left knee
- Tuck your left leg below the right leg
- Extend your right leg forward
- Shift your weight to the left side of your body
With this formation, your body is in the best position to get to the base quickly and safely.
6. Lean Back
While sliding, lean back to avoid hitting the base when you sit up. Leaning back also lowers your center of gravity. This allows for better control of your body.
When leaning back, you’ll also want to put your arms behind you.
7. Don’t Use Your Hands and Feet for Movement
When sliding, you want to avoid using your hands and feet to drive your body. This will slow down your momentum. Using your hands and feet can also result in injury.
The key to a fast slide is to get a good sprinting start.
At the tail-end of your slide, you will want to use your right leg to tag the base. This leg will already be extended and will be closest to the base first.
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