Learning to throw a slider is one of the most difficult tasks in baseball. the problem is that it’s not as easy a pitch as the curveball, and it requires a lot more patience and a pitching coach who knows what he’s doing. In this article, you’ll learn slider grip, spin, technique, and troubleshooting for launching a slider.
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Reading: How to throw a nasty slider
how to launch a slider: what’s in this full article
here is the overview of this ultimate guide to launching a slider. What we’ll cover today is important for pitchers of all ages:
- slide grips
- the spin: how a slider breaks and why
- common misconceptions
- what type of caster should throw a slider
- how hard it is to throw
- slider locations
- how to learn it: the process and videos of throwing exercises.
How Do You Grip a Slider?
To hold a slider correctly, you need to place two fingers on the ball along the edge of a seam so that the pitch can be released from the fingertips with a combination of bullet spin and forward spin. but here are things you need to understand about sliders:
- the grip won’t make the pitch
- finding a good grip just helps you spin the ball better
- a major leaguer’s grip may or may not work for you
- play around and try out different holds before declaring them a hit or miss
Different Slider Grips to Try
my video below (which is #1 if you look for the slider on youtube) is the best way to learn about grips. Check it out and subscribe to my channel!
but, the basic grip looks like the photo below, with the index and middle fingers side by side, overloaded on the arm side of the ball, and winding up into the horseshoe.
the type of spin you want in a slider
A slider is a combination of two spins: bullet spin and forward spin, which together cause the ball to break at an angle.
bullet spin = spin perpendicular to the direction the ball is traveling.
forward spin (topspin) the ball spins in the same direction the ball is traveling.
when pitched correctly, the ball produces a red dot on the front of the ball – hitters identify sliders by this dot, but it is only part of the pitch and not something the caster wants to avoid. the dot is a sign of a well-launched slider.
The way each pitcher’s slider breaks is unique, but the average is a diagonal break with a mostly equal break down and to the side.
for this type of break to occur, basically the following happens:
- the pitcher tries to bring the fingertips to the front of the ball to produce forward spin. thinking about being on top of it is a good mindset.
- then when you release it, it will roll slightly to the side and the natural pronation of your hand will apply the “bullet spin.”
What a lot of pitchers do by accident, what isn’t right, is reach to the side, trying to impart the side-sweeping action they see on TV by running their hand around the ball.
Getting on the side of the ball produces a shot with a lot of sidespin, which leads to a poor and sloppy fast break.
common misconceptions about launching the slider
Okay, let’s address some common misconceptions about launching the slider:
- are more stressful on the arm
- are not appropriate for young pitchers
- are more difficult to pitch
- the curveball is a best throw
- you throw a slider by stepping to the side
let’s do this!
misconception #1 & 2: they are more stressful and not appropriate for young people
First, I agree that sliders are not the best thing for young pitchers, but only on the basis that all breaking balls should be taught later, at 14 or 15 years old.
That said, I don’t think, and research supports this, that any one type of breaking ball is worse than any other. So if a kid is ready to learn a curveball, there’s no reason he can’t learn a slider instead. no evidence shows that sliders are worse than curves.
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In fact, research from the American Sports Medicine Institute has shown that the fastball is the most stressful pitch, in part because speed is closely related to arm strain. So, fastballs are more stressful than sliders.
That’s not to say that breaking balls of any kind is good for young pitchers (which I’ll define as pitchers age 14 and under).
Rather, I think breaking balls should be taught in season 14u, and not be relied on until season 15u or 16u. the reason? because pitchers rely too much on breaking balls and don’t learn how to master their fastball and develop a good changeup, both of which are very important in the long run.
Are sliders okay for amateur launchers?
Yes, within reason. Pitchers should always learn to command their fastball and changeup first. Then, add a breaking ball in later.
If a pitcher is cleared to throw a curveball, then he’s okay throwing a slider. really, it’s just about arm action and what pitch a pitcher is best suited for.
More on who’s suitable for a slider and who’s not, in a moment.
misconception #3: they are harder to cast
sliders are no more difficult to learn than curveballs; Both throws require a lot of dedication, time, and good teaching to throw well.
Any kid can throw a bad curveball (and most curveballs are bad curveballs). Similarly, any child can throw a poor slider.
launch a good one? the slider is probably easier, which is why a lot more pitchers pitch them at the college and pro levels.
They’re easier to throw because the pitcher can go down the field a lot more, a lot more like a fastball, compared to a curveball. and they’re easier to throw for strikes because their rest is shorter. the slider can be “forced” into the zone much more easily than the curveball.
misconception #4: curveball is a better pitch
huh. I’m not sure either one is better. the curve ball can be very hard to hit when thrown well, but the sliders throw harder and feel like longer fastballs. there really is likely to be a push between the two, and it’s a bit of an apples to oranges comparison.
Check out the slider vs. curveball video below to learn more!
Ultimately, the best breaking ball is the one you can throw well. for some, that’s the curve ball. for others, that’s the slider. it is very individual and it is not important which one a caster chooses. the only thing that matters is that a caster can cast one of them well.
misconception #5: you stand on the side of a slider so it breaks that way
I did refer to this earlier, and no, we don’t want to impart side spin and make it spin like a frisbee.
Rather, the throw is a combination of a bullet and a forward spin, so mentally trying to be *mainly at the top of the throw is the right mindset. although the fingers won’t actually be on top of the ball, the goal is to prevent the hand from slipping to the side, which results in a completely wrong spin: the frisbee’s spin is not good.
what type of launcher should launch a slider?
I have some rules for this:
- if your armroom is lower, a slider will be better for you than a curveball.
- Curveballs require topspin, and the low arm slot makes it very difficult to achieve.
- If after two years your curve isn’t good for consistent swings and misses, or if you can’t throw it for strikes quite right, then find a new pitching coach and try to fix it. , or go ahead and learn a slider.
- Two years is enough time to “get it” or realize you won’t get it.
- When I teach a new pitcher their first breaking ball, I usually play with both and see if they have a natural ability to spin one or the other. this often turns out to be the case.
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Lower arm slot pitchers tend to sink deeper and run with their fastballs, making the slider, which breaks the opposite direction of a sink and changeup, a great pitch for the repertoire.
what locations work best for sliders, based on count?
In the next video, I explain the best slider placements.
Remember, it’s not enough to just have a sharp break slider. it is critical that pitchers of all ages position them correctly and execute to the count. a big slider thrown in poor locations will not yield a good result and will throw hitters out.
how hard should you throw your slider?
In short, the answer is easy: AS HARD AS POSSIBLE! As hard as the incredible hulk would throw it. As hard as you can, harder than your fastball.
Now what I’m talking about is intensity: You throw it thinking you’re throwing it 100% as hard as your fastball.
When you do this, your slider will typically come out 8-10% slower than your fastball. In my book, I talk about gear ratios in all common fields like this. is a great resource for further learning.
- 100 mph fastball = 90-92 mph slider
- 90 mph fastball = 81-83 mph slider
- 80 fastball mph = 72-74 mph slider
- 70 mph fastball = 62-64 mph slider
- etc. etc.
if it’s slower than this, it’s not really a slider. if it’s harder than this, it’s not really a slider.
basically when you spin the pitch correctly it will end up in this speed range because you lose speed on the baseball when you spin it.
turning basically absorbs speed.
the more effort required to spin the ball (as with a curveball, which requires the fingers to reach higher up the ball to apply topspin), the slower the shot.
Because the slider is thrown with more energy forced through the center of the ball (as opposed to the curveball, which requires more energy to go over the ball), it can be thrown quite hard relative to the ball. with the fastball.
Corners are typically 13-20% slower than fast, although as hard as possible is also a rule of thumb in corners.
Bottom line: Throw it as hard as you can and the speed change should be 8-10% slower than your fastball speed.
how to launch a slider: the learning process
Basically, it goes like this:
- find a grip that you think might work for you
- choose one or two throwing drills that allow you to focus more on hand position than the full throw
- start 35-45 feet away from a partner
- throw slow sliders using the throwing drill focusing only on spinning the ball correctly and how it feels on your fingers
- back off slowly, re-introduce your full mechanics, and gradually add speed.
the #1 throwing drill to use.
This exercise, which I call the square hips exercise, is best for helping to isolate your hand position and get a feel for the slider as you begin to learn. start with this one in your learning progression!
key points to remember when learning a slider
- The slower you throw it, the better you feel. fast = harder to tell if you’re doing it right.
- slowly increase speed and back up the full distance. the more you hurry, the less you will feel the tone you will develop.
- exercises serve to take part of your body out of the equation, making it easier to isolate and feel where your hand is in space. .
- if your mechanics are bad, it will be harder to throw a good slider (or any pitch)
- you have to throw it a thousand times before it gets any good stick with it and trust it it takes time. let me repeat it:
You have to launch your new slider thousands of times before it gets any good. stick with it and trust it takes time.
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slide grips & tips frequently asked questions