(My girls love to practice sliding!)
Sliding practice is easily the most overlooked softball skill. Let’s face it, every practice includes throwing, catching, grounders and probably hitting. But how often does your team practice sliding?
The challenge is that most practice fields are not very conducive to sliding. The ground is probably hard and more than likely your girls wore shorts and don’t want to scrape up their legs. Make all of the excuses you want. If you don’t practice sliding, it will cost you outs, runs, and WINS.
How many times have you yelled SLIDE, only to have the player come in standing up and get tagged out? I know how this plays out: the coach yells “SLIDE”, the player stands up and is tagged out, the coach thinks “okay, don’t yell” counts to 10 to calm down, then yells, “WHY DIDN’T YOU SLIDE???!!!” I’ve been there and done that. We all have. Just remember, if you didn’t practice it how can you expect them to know how to do it
1. Don't Slow Down!
2. Throw your legs towards the base
3. Lean back
4. Legs should be in a figure four position with the inside leg (depending on which way the ball is coming from) bent 90 degrees and tucked under the outside leg.
5. Both arms should be thrown over the head like a football referee signaling Touchdown to avoid sliding on a hand or getting a hand stepped on.
6. Typically, slide towards the outside of the bag. Generally the fielder will take away the inside position on the base.
7. As the players foot hits the bag, and her momentum carries her forward, have her pop up to a standing position on top of the base. That way she is ready to continue running in case of an errant throw.
A few ways to practice sliding include utilizing a “slip-n-slide” or getting a big card board box and laying it flat. Both will work although they aren’t my favorite methods. As you look at the pictures, you will note that we utilize a sliding mat. It’s a large piece of foam covered by vinyl with a separate piece of material on top that actually slides across the vinyl.
It’s a little expensive at $299.00 but it’s a great softball tool. Generally, early in the season we practice sliding at every practice and then break it out as needed throughout the season. What I really like, is that it is perfect for a drills based practice. You can put it just about anywhere and have it be one of the stations the girls rotate through. As you can see by the smiles on their faces, our players have a great time sliding, and they have overcome their fears of hurling their bodies to the ground.
Whether you use a sliding mat or a cardboard box, just know that they have to practice this skill on a fairly routine basis. Otherwise, you’ll be counting to 10 and yelling “Why Didn’t You SLIDE?”
Now, Go Get ‘Em Coach!