Is there anything cooler in baseball than sliding?
If you’re seven years old and you’re the first kid on your team who knows how to slide, it’s like you’re a superhero.
It’s almost like flying — with a cape!
And why wouldn’t he feel like a superhero? When a young person first learns how to slide, it’s scary. It’s literally a leap of faith. You have to throw your feet out in front of you while running full speed and land on your legs. Doesn’t that hurt?
Yeah, it does, a little. But since when do superheroes care about that?
A lot of kids don’t learn how to slide until a little too late in their youth league careers because they are afraid to try. But I’ve discovered a way to teach sliding that removes the fear factor.
It’s even fun.
Check out this video I made with my son, John.
Let’s review the progression.
- Start with a flat cardboard sheet your boy lands on, placed on a line of cardboard sheets on top of the grass. Have him slide feet first. He’ll have fun sliding freely on the cardboard, and the grass and cardboard cushion make it painless.
- Repeat the process on the dirt basepaths.
- Have him land on a single sheet of cardboard but continue the slide on the dirt. This way, he gets gradually used to the friction of the ground against his legs and hips.
- Have him slide without cardboard into the base.
As you go through these steps, teach the following key points:
Ensure the proper landing position. Many young people want to land on their knee. No wonder they’re scared. Teach them to land on the side of their leg.
Run full speed.
Run with full confidence. He’s a superhero!
While sliding, keep the hands up. This is a safety precaution, and it can distract the fielder.
Make sure the non-landing leg is fully extended. So many young baserunners get thrown out because they fold both legs when they slide, which effectively increases the length of the basepath by about a foot. This may be a lesson for a later day.
And here’s the most important thing.
Make it fun. Try to make all your training fun, especially for the youngest ones.
John asked me to teach him how to slide. I didn’t force this on him. Kids best learn proficiency in baseball skills when they are eager to learn. If, in training sliding or anything else in baseball, you sense resistance, back off. If it’s not fun for your son, he won’t learn. And if he feels forced, he won’t have fun and will eventually want to quit.
Make sure baseball practice is fun and your son will have a passion for the game. The passion has to be his, not yours.
After sliding practice, John felt proud, and then we did some BP.
Keep it fun.
Yours for baseball success.
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