In baseball, the slider is more like a combination of the breaking ball and fastball. Like the latter, it becomes more dangerous when executed with effective speed. The most important feature is it makes it a dreaded pitch for the batters as it breaks very late. This more often than not bamboozles the hitter, resulting in a strike. Considering the potential threat for all batters posed by this deadly pitch, it becomes crucial to learn how to pitch it. The 4 major steps involved in the process are discussed below.
Instructions to Throw a Slider
Step 1: The Grip
To start with, you need to grip the ball properly. The correct grip is by holding the ball across its seam with your middle and index fingers. Make sure your fingers are slightly off-center and towards the outer side of the ball. The thumb needs to be kept below, while the remaining two fingers should not be touching the ball at all. Using your middle finger and thumb, apply pressure on the ball.
Step 2: The Position
You should then take your regular windup. Bear in mind that your body weight needs to shift from the back foot to the front foot, in the direction of the home plate. When you are about to release the ball from your hands, try keeping your wrist as loose as possible. Also, avoid applying any additional force when you thrust the ball ahead.
Step 3: The Throw
The slider ball needs to be thrown in a similar manner you would be throwing a fastball. The only additional thing you will be doing here is 'cutting' through the ball using your middle finger. Your fingers need to be placed above the ball, till you actually release it from your hands. Also, use your fingers and not the wrist to turn the ball at release. The more angle you are able to create with your fingers, the wider break you will achieve on the slider.
Step 4: The Follow Through
After you have thrown the ball, comes the follow-through. The ideal follow-through is when both your feet are parallel to each other after the pitch, with your throwing arm coming across in front of your body. You should pay attention to the break of the pitch. Normally, it should be in the direction opposite to that of a curve ball and should break late in its flight. For right-hand pitchers, the slider should break down and in to left-hand hitters, while for right-hand hitters, it should break down and out.
Throwing a Left-Handed Slider
The steps given above remain the same, except that you will be holding the ball with your left hand. The grip, stance, throw, and follow-through, all remain the same otherwise. However, if you notice the break of a left-hand pitcher, there is a difference. When a left-hand pitcher throws a slider to a right-hand hitter, it will break down and in, while for left-hand hitters, the slider will break down and out.
Tips and Warnings
- While throwing the slider, remember not to snap or turn your wrist during the release. This could lead to an injury, and more importantly, you won't be able to achieve the desired break, as you need to maneuver your middle finger for it.
- If you are doing this properly, you should be able to notice a fair amount of spin on the ball after pitching. Also, when you are pitching to a left-hand batsman, throw the slider towards the inside of the plate, and towards the outer side when pitching to a right-hand batsman.
- Once you are comfortable with the basic grip and movement discussed above, you can always try and experiment with your finger position or the pace at which you release the ball.