hOW tO tHROW a sLIDER                                        

                                            

Pitchers are always looking for new ways to throw the baseball to confuse the batter, ultimately resulting in a strike. There are many different types of pitches to choose from, and today, we are going to look at how to throw a slider.

A slider pitch is known as a breaking ball pitch that will travel downwards through the hitting zone of the batter. It is usually thrown at a lesser speed than a fastball, but fast than the popular curveball. The slider is sometimes referred to as a snapper or yakker in baseball slang terms and is a great trick to add to your arsenal of throws.

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Gripping The Ball For A slider

In order to throw a good slider, or any type of pitch for that matter, is to known exactly how to grip the ball. After all, your grip is going to set the foundation for the type of throw that you plan on achieving. Each pitch usually requires a different grip and throwing technique, so knowing how to grip the baseball is going to be your first priority.


For a slider, you are going to want to place your index and middle fingers together tightly across one of the outer seams of the U shape or “horseshoe” seam. If you are a right handed pitcher, you are going to want to set your middle finger across the right half of the seam.  For left handers, place your middle finger across the left hand of the seam. Doing so should put your fingers towards the outside of the baseball.


Take your thumb and set it under the opposite inside seam of the baseball. The distance between your 2 fingers and your thumb will determine how much the ball will drop. The further the distance, the more it will drop, and the closer the fingers, the more it will slide. For example, if your two fingers are in the 10-11 o’clock position, you will want to place your thumb in the 4-5 o’clock position.


You will want to hold the baseball where most of the pressure is coming from the thumb side of the index finger. You will want to hold the outer third of the ball for the best slider. If you put pressure on both fingers, the ball will tend to balance out, resulting in a cutter pitch. Lastly, cock your wrist just a tad to the thumb side of your throwing hand to allow to pitch to spin off your fingers.

Keep The Batter Guessing

Like with any pitch, you are always going to want to keep your grip hidden from the batter. Any good baseball player will be able to look at a grip a pitcher has on a ball and adjust their batting stance to accommodate the style of pitch that they anticipate. To combat this and keep your pitch a secret, it is always a good practice to keep your ball and grip hidden in your glove as long as you can throughout the pitch. This will not only hide the pitch, but will also give you stability when you wind up and throw the ball.

Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst

The Throw

To prepare for your throw, you will want to pivot your body and shift the weight of your body from your back foot forward toward the batter and follow through. At the end of your pitch, your feet should be parallel and with throwing arm traveling across the front of your body.

The Release

When you start to release the ball, you will want to ensure that you keep your wrist loose. As mentioned before, keep your wrist cocked slightly making sure that you do not twist it side to side. This can cause injury over time due to the strain on the tendons in your wrist. Apply pressure with your index finger as you release to ensure a late break without driving your wrist forward with too much force. 


 When releasing the ball, snap your wrist up to down to get the slider to drop as it crosses the batter’s plate. The spin of the ball should come from the index finger and not from twisting your wrist. As a rule of thumb, always remember that snapping is an up and down motion and twisting refers to a side to side motion. 


As you release, make sure that your wrist comes down, similar to a fastball. The amount of break on the slider is going to be determined by the angle created by turning your finger. The greater the angle, the wider the break. 


 One of the most important aspects of the slider to remember is to aim to break on either the inside or outside of the plate. A slider does not work well when thrown directly over the plate. After all, the whole point of a slider is to break at the last second to confuse the batter. 


 Tips: 

- Right Hand Pitchers: Your slider should break down and in for left handed hitters and down and away from right handed hitters. - --- Left Hand Pitchers: Your slider should break down and in for right handed hitters and down and away from left handed hitters.

Photo by Keith Johnston on Unsplash

Practice Makes Perfect

Now that you know how to effectively throw a slider, it’s time to get out there and practice. The effectiveness of your slider is only going to increase with more practice so be sure to get some training in with both a right handed hitter and a left handed hitter.