The Schutt Softball Sliding Mat
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The Schutt Slide Rite sliding mat is a great fastpitch softball training tool and fits in very nicely with the drills driven practice plan. At every age level that I have coached I have run in to players that were very hesitant to slide. In particular, the younger the player the more hesitant they are. However, if you get a player that is in the older age groups that has never had to slide, she may be scared to death to throw her body on the ground.
First things first. If your team plays in shorts, it needs to be mandatory that they wear sliders so they have some protection for their legs and bottom. My preference is to skip the shorts and have the team wear pants (still with sliders on underneath). Once our team finally made the switch to pants, it eliminated all the fear of sliding.
No matter the age of your team, sliding like any other skill needs to be taught and practiced. Typically, sliding on a practice field can be a pretty tough thing to do. Often the ground is hard so you may well be limited on the number of slides any one girl can do in a given practice session. To get around this problem, the Schutt Slide Rite sliding mat is perfect for this practice. The girls can practice sliding all day without worry of injury.
The quick fundamentals of sliding:
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.
As mentioned previously, the Schutt Slide Rite sliding mat is ideal for a drills based practice. Throw it out on the practice field somewhere and have it be a station the girls rotate through. If they aren't hitting or fielding they can rotate over and practice sliding. Once they have the fundamentals of sliding down, this can be a station that does not require much attention from the coach. As with any other skill, the more they practice the better they will be when it's time to perform during a game.
- $299.95 (click the link and enter schutt slide in the search box). This price was as of January 24, 2016 and could change any time without notice.
Good Luck and Go Get 'em Coach!!!
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