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How to throw a slider? Many pitchers want the answer to this question because a slider can be the most deceptive pitching grip in baseball. A good slider will appear to have fastball velocity, but it will break in a lateral direction, down and away, or down and in to a batter.
Sliders are particularly effective for pitchers who have lower arm slots.
With a lower arm slot, it can be difficult to throw a 12-6 curveball, therefore throwing a slider can be a great alternative. In order for a slider to effective it must break about 6-10 inches, and the velocity should typically be 5-7 mph slower than your fastball.
Before I discuss how to properly throw a slider, it's important to understand that this pitch requires a considerate amount of practice. Incorrectly thrown sliders can potentially injure the throwing arm, so you must learn the proper mechanics of throwing this pitch.
The only way to develop consistency with any pitch is through persistent practice. Every time you throw the slider, throw it with a purpose. Consistency and persistence is the key to developing excellent pitches that will give you confidence in the games.
Here's what a slider grip looks like:
How to throw a slider the correct way
Similar to most pitches in baseball, griping a slider is about comfort and preference. Typically, most pitchers will place their index and middle fingers on top of one seam, similar to a curveball.
Usually, it is best to hold the outer half of the baseball. Your wrist should be loose, but you should add middle finger tip pressure to the ball.
Some pitchers will put their thumb directly on the bottom of the baseball. However, it may be more beneficial to place your thumb on the opposite side that your other fingers are on, exactly like my grip in the image above. I also had a lot of success with a slider by slightly lifting my index finger off the baseball. This simply reminded me to let the ball roll of the middle finger.
Now that you understand how to grip a slider, you must learn how to correctly throw this pitch so that you can avoid any unnecessary injury.
Throwing a slider is different than a curveball because the movement does not come from turning the wrist. Slider movement is the result of finger tip pressure, and the grip alone.
When you throw the slider, you want the baseball to roll off your thumb and index finger. Throw it with the arm speed, and same arm action of your fastball.
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How to throw a slider step by step (8 steps)
Here are some important steps to follow if you decide to start throwing a slider. If you follow these steps, you will have developed a slider that will strike many batters out, keep batters off-balance, and increase your overall pitching capability.
- Avoid turning your wrist in anyway
- Keep your fingers on top of the baseball to prevent twisting your wrist
- Maintain good middle finger pressure
- Hold the outer portion of the baseball
- Let the ball roll off the thumb and index finger (Let your fingers do the work!}
- Use your exact fastball arm speed
- Keep a loose wrist action
- If you're going to miss, never miss high in the strike zone (hitters love flat sliders)
How to throw a slider like Steve Carlton
I want you to see how incredibly effective throwing a slider can be by watching pitching great, Steve Carlton, who had one of the best sliders in MLB history. As you will see in the video, he threw his slider starting behind a left handed batter and sharply breaking into the strike zone. For righties, it was even more difficult to hit because it almost never looked like a strike until it was too late.
Check out this slider pitching gif:
As the clip demonstrated, the slider can be a devastating pitch when thrown correctly, and some pitching experts even label it as one of the best pitches in baseball.
Some other popular professional pitchers known for an outstanding slider include David Cone, Bob Gibson, Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz, Brad Lidge, Rollie Fingers, Randy Johnson, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Johan Santana, Clayton Kershaw, and Ryan Dempster to name only a few.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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To get to the next level, preparation is everything. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.
If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my latest strength training, conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.
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