In starting these drills, it is assumed that no one has had formal instruction in sliding, that the players are poor sliders, amateur sliders and even “afraid” to slide.
Basic to beginning instruction is finding a comfortable side for sliding, knowing how to land and using the bent-leg slide insuring safety so that injuries do not occur. A few ballplayers will find they are just as comfortable on either side; therefore, they should practice and perfect all their slides from both sides.
Drills and methods used here can be employed with equal success indoors or outdoors. At no time is the sliding pit used for teaching sliding. The bed is too soft and the player cannot slide into the base. As a result, he learns to take off too close to the base and never learns to land properly.
Indoors – Use the gym floor with sweatpants and sliding pads over them.
Outdoors – Use the outfield grass, preferably wet grass (sprinkle with water beforehand).
In the beginning, use no shoes. Inside, remove sneakers. Outside, remove spikes. Later on as the ballplayer becomes proficient, he can wear his shoes.
When to Slide
1. To avoid a tag.
2. To stop at the base.
3. To break up a double play.
4. To get back to base.
5. Always when play is close.
Length of Slide
15′ or two body lengths from base.
Direction of Slide
1. Sliding to right side, usually use right foot as takeoff foot.
2. Going to left side, use left foot as takeoff.
3. As takeoff occurs, the arms are thrown up, the upper body is extended backwards and the feet forward, all somewhat close to parallel to the ground.
On buttocks, head up, arms out for balance and toes upward.
1. In addition to above, tuck left leg or right leg in a bent position and place under other leg.
2. Use the bent-leg position to teach the beginner to insure that the boy will slide and injury will be avoided. Thus, he develops confidence and aggressive baserunning techniques.
- All players sit on the floor or grass and alternate placing one leg straight and the other in the bent-leg tucked position (Caution: remember, have them remove shoes and have pads on over pants).
- By putting hands behind themselves while in the sitting position, they push their body forward on floor or grass.
- Here they are getting used to the position and finding out which side is comfortable. Sliders can be left or right so far as which side is more comfortable in the sliding position.
- All players from a standing position practice the fall into the bent-leg slide (Caution: We use no steps, as yet). Player should concentrate on his landing and direction and getting the bent-leg tucked in underneath.
- All players practice from a standing position with three walking steps. Players that are comfortable on either side should practice both; however, others should perfect their best side first.
- All players practice drill from a standing position with a running four-to-five step start.
- During drills, coaches can correct faults by checking landing position, hands out, body extended with head up, bent leg and tucked underneath and toes up. Buttocks and calf of bent leg should show the wear of absorbing the force of the slide; otherwise, the person is landing incorrectly.
Bent-Leg Straight In
As previously explained.
Bent-Leg and Pop-Up
As you slide, place foot of extended leg on base, throw weight back and raise body in one motion. Continue running to next base.
Bent-Leg and Breakup Double Play
Raise foot of extended leg to bother footwork of pivot man.
Bent-Leg and Hook Slide
Slide right or left of bag three-to-four feet, depending on player’s size. When approaching base, bend extended leg (top leg) back, and it will hook bag when sliding by. Remember, the left foot hooks the bag sliding to the right, and the right foot hooks the base sliding to the left.
Real Hook Slide
Same landing position as previously discussed; however, both legs remain extended toward the bag. As the bag is contacted, the toe of the inside foot will hook the base and the knee will bend at the same time. The outside foot will continue past the bag and off the ground. On the hook slide, if sliding right, hook with the left foot and leg, keeping the right leg extended and off the ground. If sliding left, hook with the right foot and leg, keeping the left leg extended and off the ground.
Tom O’Connell was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Hall of Fame in 2004. O’Connell’s coaching career spanned 36 years at the high school and collegiate level, and he finished with a combined record of 634-431-11 (.590).O’Connell was the founder of Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association in 1967. He began his coaching career at Braintree High School (1964-71) before moving on to the college ranks. He was head coach at Brandeis University (1972-82) before taking over at Princeton University, where O’Connell’s teams won three Ivy League titles. He coached at Princeton until his retirement in 1997.
O’Connell also has a great deal of experience with baseball camps and clinics. He served as the Director of the Ted Williams Baseball Camp from 1972-82, then founded the renowned Princeton University/Babe Ruth Baseball Camp and Clinic.
After officially retiring from Princeton, O’Connell spent a few summers managing the Hyannis Mets in the NCAA Summer Cape Cod League, the premier summer showcase league in the country. O’Connell was named Manager of the Year in 2000 after leading Hyannis into the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Recently, O’Connell has been the head coach of the Babe Ruth National Team (2002-05)