Sliding in Softball: The Head-first Dive
When done correctly, a head-first softball dive is graceful and smooth. Done wrong, a dive can quickly turn into a high-risk move that results in an injury. Not only do you need to be mentally prepared to hit the dirt, but you need to know how to dive before your feet leave the ground. This softball guide will describe how to dive safely and smoothly into any base on the diamond.
Before testing your courage on the dirt, get comfortable with the idea of diving by trying a few drills. If you have an open field, grass will provide a nice cushion for your fall:
- If you are already at a softball field, find a soft spot in the outfield.
- Kneel on the ground, keeping your torso upright. Extend your left arm forward, but keep your right arm at your side. When diving at full speed, you’ll be extending both arms forward. When learning to dive, though, you’ll use your right hand to brace yourself as you fall.
- To start the dive motion, bend at the waist and lean forward. Keep going until you make contact with the ground; use your right arm to brace yourself as you do. Your left hand should hit the ground next, then your chest, and finally your hips.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
Hot Tip: Get Low
Don’t try diving from a standing position — that’s a long fall. Make sure you bend your knees deeper and deeper as you approach the base. This will help you transition into your dive gracefully and you will be a lot safer.
When you get used to diving from your knees, it’s time to move on to a standing dive. The standing dive will incorporate your entire body. It has you starting from a greater height, so be ready for a stronger impact:
- Start in a standing position.
- Bend your knees to lower your elevation; keep in mind, you will be doing this mid-stride as you dive on the dirt.
- Bend at the waist and start leaning forward. Start extending your left arm in front of you, but keep your right arm to your side.
- Step forward with your right foot, push off the ground, and transition into a dive. Use your right hand to brace yourself as you fall.
Hot Tip: Diving Back to a Base
When diving back to a bag, extend only your left hand forward and make sure to turn your head to face the left. This will prevent you from getting hit in the face with a bad throw.
Now Get Moving!
Once you are comfortable with the idea of diving head-first into a base, you’re ready to try it on the dirt!
- Start at any base (except for home plate) and start sprinting.
- When you are about three or four strides away, start lowering your elevation by bending your knees and leaning forward. You should feel like you are falling off-balance.
- Within two strides away, you should be relatively low to the ground, starting to extend both arms forward.
- Once your right foot lands in stride, push off the ground and propel yourself forward. Try to go into your dive as smoothly as possible.
Get under the Tag
Head-first dives are great to use if you really want to get under the tag. However, you should avoid using the head-first dive at home plate. The catcher, unlike any other player on the field, is fully protected by gear. Diving into her shin guards could quickly lead to serious injuries, so try to keep all head-first dives limited to the bases.