If you want to learn how to throw a slider, you're going to love this article.
In this step-by-step guide, I'll show you how to grip a slider with pictures and descriptions from MLB pitchers.
I'll also share some of my favorite slider tips, tricks and techniques that I picked up along the way in the Chicago Cubs organization.
What is a slider?
The slider is a cross between a fastball and a curveball. It’s harder than a curveball, but with less downward action. The slider has a smaller break with a tighter spin. Many times you can see a small dot in the baseball as it’s coming toward you. It’s important for pitchers, parents and coaches to learn a proper slider grip and to learn correct slider throwing technique to ensure and promote good arm health.
A slider is a breaking pitch that is thrown faster and generally with less overall movement than a curveball. It breaks sharply and at a greater velocity than most other breaking pitches. The slider and the curveball are sometimes confused because they generally have the same purpose — to deceive the hitter with spin and movement away from a pitcher's arm-side. (When a pitch seems to toe the line between the two, it is referred to in slang as a "slurve.")
Most professional pitchers possess either a slider or a curveball — and some possess both breaking pitches. Having a breaking pitch, like a slider, is an essential component to a professional starter's arsenal, because it keeps the hitter a bit off-balance and unable to commit to gearing up exclusively for a fastball.
A slider is meant to be slightly more deceptive than a curveball because it is thrown harder and has spin that more closely resembles a fastball — although it doesn't create as much overall movement. Many power relief pitchers possess only a fastball and a slider in their arsenals — with one pitch setting up the other because of the late deception created by the slider.
Average speed of a slider
Average pitch speed for a slider in Major League Baseball
MLB average velocity difference from fastball: 7.7 MPH
MLB average spin rate of slider: 2090 rpm
MLB average strike percentage: 63.7%
What does a slider look like?
How do you throw a slider?
- Step 1: A slider is gripped like a two-seam fastball, but, held slightly off-center.
- Step 2: When thrown, try to manipulate the pitch to come off the thumb side of your index finger. Do not permit the two finger release (used in the two-seam fastball) as it will cause the pitch to balance out, reducing the spin. Your goal is the opposite - to activate spin!
- Step 3: Most good slider pitchers grip the outer-third of the baseball and cock their wrist slightly, (not stiffly), to their throwing hand’s thumb-side upon release of the pitch. This enables a pitcher to apply pressure to the outer-half of the ball with the index finger.
- Step 4: Avoid any twisting of the wrist upon release.
- Step 5: Place the long seam of the baseball in between the index finger and the middle finger. Place the thumb on the opposite seam underneath the baseball (as shown in the first picture).
- Step 6: Some pitchers find it helpful to place their index finger along the seam of the ball. The key with the slider is to hold the ball slightly off-center, on the outer third of the baseball.
- Step 7: Remember to slightly cock your wrist, but, don’t stiffen it, for a good wrist-snap upon release. If your wrist is slightly cocked to the throwing hand’s thumb side, your wrist-snap will enable the pitch to come off of the thumb-side of your index finger. This action creates good spin on the ball.
- Step 8: The movement on this pitch originates from the baseball spinning off the index finger from the outside of the ball, NOT from twisting your hand underneath the ball.
- Step 9: Slider arm speed should remain the same as fastball arm speed.
This pitch is a variation of the slider and knuckleball, and is characterized by slider movement.
- Step 1: Start off with a knuckle curve.
- Step 2: Turn your wrist 90 degrees to the right (for a right handed pitcher). There is no need to suppurate or pronate your arm because is already cocked.
- Step 3: Throw it with the same arm speed as your fastball.
9 keys to developing a great slider
- When throwing the slider, the pitcher should think fast ball. Use the normal range of motion - do not cock or curl the wrist.
- As the hand and wrist come into the acceleration phase, the wrist will turn slightly inward, but the 1st finger must stay on top of the ball.
- The hand and elbow should stay at the same height and release position as on the fastball.
- The arm path and release point should be the same as the fast ball until the ball is released. Then comes a major change: after release, think of short arming the hand back outside the hip sooner than on the fastball. Do not try to get full extension of the arm to the plate. This technique will reduce the forces on the elbow.
- The action of the body will be the same as on he fastball.
During the acceleration and release phase, the wrist should be cocked to a 1/4 turn open to the inside.
- The first finger must remain on top of the ball and cut down through the outside as the thumb comes up through the inside of the ball. This action creates the side spin.
- The wrist should flex forward with no inward turn.
- Upon release, many pitchers feel a burning sensation on their 1st finger. This is a good teaching check point showing the finger cuts down through the outside of the ball.
How to be more consistent with the slider?
The following chart identifies some of the most common problems associated with locating the slider and provides suggestions for how to make adjustments.
|Poor break||Grip too lose, palm of hand faces batter, lack of finger and thumb action||Firm grip slightly deeper than FB, off-center ball, 1/4 inward turn of the hand and wrist, fingers cut down thru outside|
|Slider backs up||Fingers on side or under the ball, wrist turns under ball, arm slot too wide||1st finger pressure at 1 o’clock, cuts down thru, wrist flexes forward and downward, use FB arm action and arm slot|
|Lack of normal velocity||Ball gripped too loose, ball choked too deep, stiff wrist action||Firm finger and thumb pressure, Space between thumb and 1st finger, loose wrist and forearm|
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What do you think?
Now it's time to hear from you:
How do you throw a slider? Can you share a pic of your slider grip?
Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.
Either way, leave a comment below and let me know.