Sliding in baseball is an important part of the game and base running technique. There are various reasons why a player would need to slide, whether that is when stealing, going for an extra base, breaking up a double-play, or scoring the game-winning run at the plate. For the most part, sliding is used to avoid being tagged out by the opposing team.
The most popular and common slide in baseball is a bent-leg or feet first slide. This when the runner leads into the base with their dominant foot while tucking their non-dominant leg under the other. Runners use this slide while stealing a base or going for an extra base.
A slight variation of the bent-leg slide is the pop-up slide. This is where the runner performs a bent-leg slide, but immediately pops up off of the base to be able to more easily advance on the chance there is an overthrow or an opportunity where they can quickly take another base.
Two other variations of the bent-leg slide are the hook slide and the backdoor slide. Both of these are used to avoid a tag while sliding into the base if the runner knows the throw will beat them to the base. The hook slide is like a bent-leg slide but the non-dominant foot is pointed outward instead of tucked underneath the other leg so the runner can avoid the tag and touch the base with their hand instead of their foot. The backdoor slide is when the player deliberately slides past the bag and reaches back to touch the base to avoid the defender.
Another popular slide is the head-first slide. This is when a player slides head first into the base. It is a common slide for players attempting to get to the base as fast as possible as many people believe it is slightly faster than a foot-first slide. Head first slides can also be used to avoid tags from either side of the base more easily than with a foot-first slide.
That brings us to the hands-first slide that is executed at home plate when the catcher has a block on the plate. Since a player only needs to touch home plate and not stay on the plate, runners will pick which side the catcher is leaving the most vulnerable and perform the slide to that side. This helps the runner execute a safe slide by avoiding the catcher and reaching for the bag with their hand.