By Ruth Cracknell
All baseball players need to learn how to slide properly. There are two basic methods.
1. The Hook Slide (or "fadeaway").
2. The Leg-under, or Bent-leg Slide.
To get the proper form for the Hook Slide, sit down with legs extended. Turn to the right so all the weight is on the right hip. Bend the left leg so that the calf is at right angles to the thigh. The toe of that foot is the "hooking" foot. Now then, raise the hands over the head and lower the trunk until the back touches the ground. Swing the right foot to the right slightly and raise it a few inches. There you have it-a Hook Slide to the right.
Try it on the other side, reaching for the corner of the bag with the toe of the right foot.
When making the Hook Slide, remember to:
spread the weight out as much as possible-get the back down. Keep the outside foot (the one that's not hooking the bag) off the ground! If you don't, the spikes are apt to catch in the dirt. The weight of the body sliding forward will then turn the ankle down and out, causing a severe sprain, or break. When making any slide, don't jump at the base! S-1-i-d-e up to it. Keep your hands up, too.
If your hands strike the ground, you might tear the flesh or get a bad wrist sprain. If you have trouble keeping your hands high, by the way, pick up dirt in each hand when you get on base and hang on to it.
To get the form for the "Leg-under" slide, sit down again with the legs stretched out in front. Double the right leg under the left, so that the right shin faces the "base". Roll over on your right hip slightly. Raise the hands over the head. If the play is going to be close and you plan to go straight into the base, get your back down and reach for the base with the left toe. (Opposite for opposite side.)
If you want to stop at the base, or intend to continue on, ride in on the bent leg until it touches the base. Let the top foot go over the base; bring it down on the other side and with a little upward surge of the body, you'll be on your feet again and ready to continue.
To get a better idea of what we're talking about, sit in the bent-leg position. Ask someone to grab one of your hands and pull you forward. You come naturally to your feet, as you will see.
"Don't Be A Woman!"
There's one absolute rule about sliding which is important for all baseball players. If you're going to slide, slide. Don't start to slide then decide to stand up. As the saying goes-don't be a woman and change your mind.
If a play is being made on you at 2nd or 3rd, always slide. If you over-run the bag, you'll be tagged out. If you slow up so you won't over-run the bag, you'll also be tagged out. You can over-run home plate, of course. But don't try to go in standing up unless you have the throw clearly beaten and the catcher is obviously not going to try to tag you. When in doubt, always slide.
Boys who can only slide on the right (or left) side, should use a hand to tag the base. If, for instance, you are going into 2nd base to beat a throw from left field, the second baseman will leave the left side of the base open. If you can only slide on your right side, do so. But go to the 3rd base side of 2nd and grab the base with your right hand as you go by.
There are two places a boy can practice sliding-at the beach, or in a jumping pit used for track and field events. In either case, boys must avoid jumping at the base, a habit they can form easily in the pit or at the seashore.
All baseball players need to learn to slide!
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