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Do you know how to throw a slider?
In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about throwing a slider that goes beyond "dirty" or "nasty" and usually involves embarrassing the batter...
But first, check out this slider from Chaz Roe and tell me it isn't the best damn pitch you've ever seen:
The slider is a cross between a fastball and a curveball. It's generally faster 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 to learn a proper slider grip and to learn correct slider throwing technique to ensure and promote good arm health.
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So what's the secret to a good slider?
Let's take a closer look at how to grip and throw the slider...
- A slider is gripped like a two-seam fastball, but, held slightly off-center.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoid any twisting of the wrist upon release.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slider arm speed should remain the same as fastball arm speed.
More images of slider grips
DID YOU KNOW?
The slider is the next-fastest pitch to the fastball, and it relies on a tight spin that mimics the fastball, plus a pronounced late break down and away (in a righty vs. righty match up).
The grip has the first two fingers close together and off-center, positioned down the length of a seam.
On release, the pitcher uses the contact along the length of the seam and pulls downward to create spin. The slider uses the leverage of the seam, rather than a wrist action, to impart spin; try to do both at the same time and you're headed for arm problems.
The spin is not straight through the ball, but off-center, due to the grip, and that spin pattern eventually causes the ball to "snap off" at a downward angle as it approaches the plate.
The speed is below that of the fastball, but the closer a pitcher can get to throwing it at fastball speed, the better.
My favorite GIFs of throwing a slider
Put it all together, and it looks like this...
Here's a nasty slider from lefty pitcher Chris Sale—I love how it sweeps across the plate:
Here's an absolute beaut of a slider from Zack Greinke to shut down Danny Espinosa:
And lastly, check out this slider from pitcher Andrew Miller, who's one of the most dominant closers in the game right now, as he gets hitter Chris Taylor out:
These sliders all show just how debilitating the pitch can be when thrown well.
Learn more about my workout programs for pitchers
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not.
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 conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.
What do you think?
Now it's time to hear from you:
Are there any slider grips, tips or techniques that I missed?
Or maybe you have an idea of how I can make this article even better.
Either way, leave a comment and let me know.
READ THIS NEXT: Pitching Grips: How To Throw 8 Different Baseball Pitches