Sure, you glide around the basepaths like a gazelle, but sooner or later, there will be a close play at the bag. Knowing how and when to slide can be the crucial difference between "safe" and "out." Below, University of Oklahoma softball assistant coach Tripp MacKay teaches you how to oust outs using a feet first slide.
"Sliding creates an advantage, because it allows the runner to avoid the defender and reach the base in a quick and safe manner," MacKay says. "There are certain situations when we prefer one slide [instead of] the other, but most of the time it depends on the athlete and her individual instincts."
MacKay's advice on the essential feet first slide helped the Sooners reach the NCAA Super Regionals last season.
Feet First Slide
Before reaching the bag, shift your center of gravity toward your legs and feet by leaning back at a 45-degree angle
Square your shoulders to make sure you're not leaning to either side of the base
As you get closer to the base, get lower so you don't flop
With your left leg slightly bent and extended, start to tuck your right ankle behind your left knee in a "figure four" shape
Keep your left heel up with a slight give
Finish in an Indian-style sitting position, with your left foot on the base, right ankle tucked underneath left knee cap and hands in front of you
How to practice:
Knowing the right distance to start your slide is a matter of practice through trial and error. Find something easy to practice sliding on, such as wet grass, sand, sliding training pads or even a cardboard box.
Coaching Points: Incorporate speed into the slide, because it gets you to the base quickly and helps you slide on top of the dirt versus getting stuck and not making it to the base // Don't come straight down on the bag like a helicopter; instead use a smooth landing approach // Keep your hands from touching your body or the ground to avoid jamming your fingers or wrist // Refrain from sliding on the side of your leg or the top of your knee cap to avoid "strawberries" or injuries to the knee or ankles // Don't slide with a perfectly straight leg or heel; instead, bend your leg so when you hit the base, your leg and ankle will give a little bit
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock