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Sliding in Softball: The Basic Slide

 Not knowing how to do a basic softball slide will leave you at a huge disadvantage when running the bases. This guide will walk you throw the basics of the most elementary type of slide: A figure-four slide.

A Little Practice

In order to slide safely, you need to know how to lower your body and get your legs into position. If you’ve never slid before, try a quick drill to get your body used to the sliding stance:

  1. First, sit down with your legs extended out in front of you. Keeping your right leg extended, bend your left knee and tuck your left ankle under your right knee. You’ll notice that your legs form a backwards “4.” This is how your legs need to be when you slide.
  2. Now, extend both legs once more. Bend your knees, place both feet on the ground, and place your hands behind you.
  3. Use your hands and feet to elevate your body a few inches above the ground.
  4. Using your hands, push yourself forward off the ground. At the same time, kick your feet outward. As your feet leave the ground, quickly tuck your left ankle beneath your right knee. Shifting your weight to the left side of your body will make this process easier.
  5. When you land, your arms should be extended behind you and your legs should be in the figure-four position.

Do this drill until getting your legs into this position feels natural. When you’re confident, you’re ready to try it on the dirt!

Hot Tip: Learn on Your Left Leg

The reason you should learn how to slide on your left leg (bending your left knee) is because the more advanced slides — pop-up slides and hook slides — are also done on your left leg. Learning on your right leg may be counterproductive because you’ll have to re-learn the technique.

 

Sliding at Full Speed

If you have access to a field, you can learn how to slide by practicing on the dirt. If you don’t have a field, you can try the slide on long pieces of cardboard (make sure to wear long pants, high socks, and knee pads) or a sliding mat. The most important thing to remember is that if you feel hesitant, don’t force it! If you’ve missed your “window of opportunity” to hit the dirt, just keep running. Forcing yourself to slide can easily lead to injury.

Remember, your slide will be a lot smoother and safer if you start from a low position:

  1. Start sprinting to the base.
  2. When you are about three or four strides away from the base, start getting low.
  3. Start bending your knees deeper with each stride, leaning back, and shifting your weight to your left side.
  4. With most of your weight shifted to the left side of your body, bend your left knee and tuck your left ankle beneath your right knee.
  5. Once your legs are on the dirt, lean your torso even further back to avoid “sitting up.”
  6. The momentum from your sprint should propel you right into the base where you will stop. Your right leg should touch the base first.

Slide in for the Steal

Whether you’re stealing a base or trying to beat out the throw, sliding will help you get low enough to avoid the tag. Early on, you may start your slide a little too early or late — it’s part of the learning process. You’ll soon learn how to time it so you’ll be able to slide under any tag!

Learning how to slide is important for new players. The earlier it's learned, the sooner it can be used in a game. This guide will describe softball's most basic slide.
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