The Winner of Your Softball Scholarship 2017: John McGee
I have been playing softball for an impressive 14 years now, and this is despite turning 22 just a couple of months ago. And this means that if all goes well, I still have more than a decade to continue playing. Well, to cut my long story short the point is that I have always loved the sport and so am still trying to learn new things and improve different aspects of my game.
I have been training under a coach for almost as long as I can remember and as I changed teams and advanced through school, I realized that there are some things that many coaches tend to overlook. One of these things is sliding to reach bases fast. Many tend to assume that it is something automatic that softball players will figure out as they master the sport. But, from my many years of experience, I can tell you that this is not true. In fact, I only started to slide with confidence late into my teenage years. And this is after intensive sliding coaching and drills by my dad.
I had a lot of difficulties mastering sliding in softball, but I would not blame it entirely on my coaches but also on the fact that I did not give it the importance that it deserves. But, if you are an upcoming softball player that is trying to master sliding, below are some things that I have learned over the years that can help you on your journey.
Always Start By Understanding The Basics
One of the greatest mistakes that many softball players will make is to try and perfect their sliding without first understanding the basics. As I told you before, I only mastered how to slide in my late teen years, but this does not mean I was not sliding before that. It is true I had an idea on how to do it, but I did not comprehend that there were different types of slides and what each was all about. And so before anything else, you should know that there are different types of slides.
#1. Basic Slide
Almost all softball players can do the basic slide although many still do not know that it is what they use. This slide entails going low to the ground after a fast spring and touching the base with your right leg first, and it is still my favorite technique to date.
#2. Hook Slide
If you want to get to the base fast while also avoiding a tag, the hook slide is always the best option. And it is a type of slide that will involve angling your body around the base, and unlike the basic slide, you will slide towards the outside of the base instead of into it.
#3. Pop-up Slide
Although I know how to do the pop-up slide I am still trying to master how to do it well as it is quite an advanced type. It entails finishing your slide by getting into a running position, and it will be perfect for getting you ready to run to the next base.
#4. The Head First Dive
I must admit that I can count the number of times that I have used the head first dive slide since I started playing softball. Somehow I always try to avoid it, but this does not mean that there is something wrong with it. This slide can still be handy when trying to steal a base and as the name suggests it will entail diving in with the head first. And like the pop-up slide, it will also take a lot of practice to master.
Prepare For The Slide
There is more to sliding than just sprinting and diving into a base. And so you need to be prepared for the slide before you begin to avoid second-guessing in the middle of the slide as this can slow you down. If you are not sure how to prepare for a slide some of the things that I always do include stretching my legs and feet, warming up before the game, wearing protective and comfortable cleats, and wearing some sliding shorts. Also, being in the right state of mind is vital for a successful slide.
Always Sprint As Fast As Possible
Well, I am not the fastest player on my team and have never been, but when it comes to sliding, I try to sprint as fast as I can. And from the many years of practice, I think that I now run quickly enough. Dashing fast is a crucial element when it comes to sliding, and the faster you run, the more momentum you will have to push you to the base.
Timing Your Slide Is Vital
Timing is the key to learning how to slide and so you should give it the importance that it deserves. Doing it too soon or delaying it for too long will end up costing you an out. The golden rule or the rule of thumb is always to start sliding about five steps from the base. But how do you know how far away you are? It is easy for many players to estimate, but during practice, I always count the steps that it takes to reach the base and this makes it easy to determine when to start sliding. But, if you do it often enough you should not have any trouble figuring out when you are about five steps away.
Additional Softball Sliding Tips
- Practice is the key to mastering sliding in softball, and so you should practice the different slide types as often as possible.
- Get into shape to ensure that you can sprint as fast as possible because running is also a crucial part of the slide.
- Always make sure that you have the right cleats because I know from experience that your softball cleats can make or break a slide.
- Never use your hands or feet to drive the body forward when sliding because this only reduces your momentum and can lead to injuries. The right idea is always to make sure that you sprint fast when starting to maintain enough speed throughout the slide.
- When using the head first dive, you should always tuck your shirt and wear both helmet and batting gloves to minimize the risk of injuries.
Sliding is a crucial technique that every softball player that wants to improve performance on the field should master. And although many players will tend to overlook it and assume that they will get better with time this is almost never the case. I have been playing the sport for long enough to know that it takes a lot of effort and time to master the slide. But, if you learn the basics and practice enough you should not have any difficulties sliding in softball.