How To Throw a Slider
For generations, the curveball has been the preferred breaking ball among pitchers of all ages. This trend is however changing as pitchers opt for faster ball throwing techniques. For professional pitchers, the velocity for fastballs is rising gradually and the effects have been felt at each level of the game. Today, pitchers need not be in the big leagues to learn about strength training, nutrition and conditions required for playing the game. Pitchers are in better shape and conditioning like never before. Pitchers spend more time conditioning to pitch than doing the actual pitching .
The origin of the slider can be traced back to the 30’s.The slider is defined as the halfway between a fastball and a curveball. It is basically thrown harder than the curveball but with much less spin. The ball doesn’t drop as much as the curveball and requires more side movements.Baseball stars such as Dennis Eckersley, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz all demonstrated how the dominant the slider could be, now the slider is more commonly pitched in the game.
Despite its popularity, it is as dangerous and difficult to throw than other pitches. Just like with the other breaking balls, this ball should be thrown in the proper techniques to avoid injuries.
Below is a guide to take you through the right way to throw a slider and how to fit it in your pitching inventory.
How to grip a slider
A slider is gripped the same pitch as a curveball and can also be thrown like an off center two seam fastball. During the throw, the pitch should be controlled to come off the middle and the index finger. The pitcher should not allow a two-finger release as they will cause the pitch to balance out thus reducing the spin.
For right handed throwers, the fingers should be placed at the inside of the right hand seam. If left handed, the fingers should be set along the inside of the left hand seam. A right handed slider will tend to slide away from a hitter who is right handed.
Unlike a curveball which is a two finger pitch meant to roll away of the middle finger, the slider involves releasing the ball using the index finger leading to added pressure. The major difference between a curveball and a slider is at the release point of these breaking balls. While the slider involves two fingers positioned close together and off center, curveball involves curling of wrists and making the ball topple over to the top.
The slider techniques
The slider rotates the same way as a curveball but with a small spinning dot as the ball moves. A Slider is intended to be thrown much harder than curveballs, which gives it the deceptive look resembling a fast ball. The ball is meant to break downwards and away unlike the curveball and that requires much more effort to get a right spin break downward. Generally, pitchers can throw sliders as hard as fastballs and rotate in a clockwise direction working under the assumption that the pitcher is right handed.
A good slider should resemble a fastball but with a red dot to differentiate the two balls, it should explode upon reaching the batter and give a sharp break at the last moment. This is achievable by turning your wrists sideways away from your fastball release point. This will result in a firmer rotation if properly coupled with arm and grip speed. Be sure to always keep your fingers above the breaking ball and then trust your own grip.
How safe is a slider?
Slider is no dangerous sport and is much easier to master than other baseball sports. However, if not correctly played, this game can present real risks resulting from bated balls, collisions in the field or even wild pitches. Sliders thrown at speeds of more than eighty miles per hour are likely to cause broken bones, concussions and painful welts. Improper throwing techniques are the major causes of these risks which can lead to major arm problems.
A Guides toward reduced injuries
To avoid the increased risks while pitching, wear the right gear required of the game such as helmets to prevent the impacts from collision. When throwing the slider, you should not snap the elbow, as this helps to avoid injuries. If proper techniques are not thoroughly followed, the slider can strain your elbow more than any other kind of pitching.
Stretch regularly and take proper care of your arm, use the correct slider throwing techniques and reduce the number of sliders you throw to ensure that your arm stays strong and that the risk of injury is adequately minimized.
Pitchers should be advised to avoid breaking entirely with their elbows as they are most likely to get injured. Instead, those throwing a slider should put their entire focus on wrist snapping and throwing the ball with their fingers on top. This way, they achieve better results and reduce health risks that slider throwing poses to their bodies and long term well-being in general.
Be gentle and learn the game slowly!
The desire to learn a variety of pitching throws to be better at baseball is one of the biggest traps when it comes to pitching. Pitchers fail to realize that pitching is a process that requires time to master and one that should not be rushed into. Basically, pitching should start slow and grow gradually as the strength and experience of the player grows. Learn pitching step by step by ensuring that you finish one task before embarking on another. Start by learning how to command and grip the breaking ball of your choice before moving to build the extra strength and movement required throwing it.
Basically, begin with a change up and then slowly move forward to curveballs, sliders and fastballs. The success in pitching comes from the ability to throw a ball with excellent control regardless of the level the ball is thrown. Remember to always start with the basics and build consistently from there, graduating from one level to the next.
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