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The slider is one of the most dangerous pitches in baseball.  Nasty, dirty, hard...its one of my favorite pitches to throw, heck my car's license plate reads "SLIDPCE".  So why don't I teach it on my website?

Simple.  The slider is one of the most dangerous pitches...for the arm.

The slider is thrown just as hard as a fastball, but at the last moment, the index and middle finger "cut" across the front of the baseball, forcing a spin that induces the ball to slide hard down and away from their throwing hand side.

Why is this so dangerous?  In order to create this spin and force, the hand must SUPINATE upon release. Think of turning a doorknob clockwise. "Supination refers to the lateral rotation of the radius, a simple forearm twist at the radioulnar joint."  Pitchers who try to do too much to the slider will supinate their wrists forcefully, exposing themselves to a greater risk for injuries.

Supination during release leaves the arm subject to forearm flyout, which results in a collision between the ulna and the humerus as the elbow slams closed.

Pronation on the other hand, involves the thumb turning downward (palm down).  This is the longest path the arm can take to slow itself down and any overhand throw of an object where the arm doesn't force supination ends with the pronation of the arm/hand.  Fastballs, changeups, sinkers, screwballs and even curveballs end in a pronation of the hand.

In simple terms, think of driving a car towards a stop sign.  Supinating your arm would be the equivalent of slamming your brakes to a stop, while pronating would be the equivalent of slowly coasting to a stop.  After a while, your car eventually breaks down.  Without proper strengthening, maintenance and throwing mechanics, your arm will do the same.

I've seen teammates blow out elbows entirely just weeks after learning a slider.  I've seen kids 12 years old and younger, snapping off sliders thinking they're curveballs.  To sum up, there are entirely too many people teaching a pitch without teaching the proper responsibility attached to strengthening and caring for the arms they're destroying.

So how do we teach sliders?  Quite frankly, I think there are too many of the YOUTUBE crowd that like to teach pitches without understanding HOW to teach it properly...nevermind teaching arm strengthening exercises.

Soon, I will post a video on How To Throw A Slider, however with a HUGE disclaimer attached, but with all the pertinent information present.  In this information age of Monkey See, Monkey Do, we should realize what we sometimes teach often can do more harm than good.

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Replies to This Discussion

Nice Job Ruben!!!! I'm feeling the love!!!
This is outstanding! Thanks for sharing Ruben.
Add to the slider's signature at the plate by the following:
> Collapse on the instep of the pivot foot when striding forward and delivering and your slider will have a bite to it.
> Don't collapse on your instep of your pivot foot, but raise the heel of the pivot foot slightly when striding forward and delivering and your slider will bite like a sinker, but, with some of the slider's influence.

Two distinctly different signatures at the plate, but, both with identical delivery motions by the pitchers.

Great article.

Coach B.
I threw the same slider from the 1st day I stepped on the field in college in 1994 until my last day playing in 2001 and all I did was move my 2 fingers over on the ball and more in the horseshoe. I continued throwing it just like a fastball and never did I feel any type of real soreness from it. I think pitchers want to try and force the break of a slider and this is when they try to snap the spin instead of letting it happen which causes all of the above problems.
Right-o Kip. I too was never hurt by the slider as well, but after starting as a coach in 2000 to now, too many of those violent doorknob twisting motions coupled with young ages and poor responsibilities have led to dozens of sore arms, sepearated/torn ligaments, TJ surgery. Yours sounds more like a M. Rivera cutter rather than a sharp Brad Lidge type slider...did it have the same bite?

One of my college staff this year is throwing that cutter and is having success with it. 3 others throw the slider. Thank god all of them have now learned that the changeup is the most devasting pitch in baseball.
I threw a real good biting slider that broke about 6-8 inches when I was throwing it good and a little bigger when I wasn't. I don't think the bite was any different whether you wanted to call it a slider or a cut fastball. I never did call it a cut fastball but some of the hitters did. The great thing about a slider, if thrown properly, is that you shouldn't want it to break much. Now, using an aluminum bat you may think otherwise but I did get the majority of my strike outs with the slider both in college and beyond. It is a pitch that you have to stay with in order to get it to it's best but once you do get it it's like riding a bike. It may not always be super sharp but you should be able to throw strikes with it almost at will. BUT, don't hang it because it does go long distances. Also, I used to love back dooring both right and left handers with it. Some hitters give up on pitches outside the zone if they haven't seen many from you and others just can't hit it period. As a coach, I would never teach a young one to snap ANY pitch much less a slider. Throw it like a fastball but use a seam for the grip. It's really easy actually. Iike I said before, I learned it in one day.
I agree. I prefer to teach the backup fastball (Maddux) or the split finger fastball due to the stress on young arms. Kip makes good points but not everyone is as skillful and kids shuld NEVER throw a slider until their arms are more mature and the nerves are actually attaced fully to the bone.

One thing that drives me crazy is the fact that kids are pushed to learn "trick" pitches before they can control or pinpoint the fastball. It is like teaching a kid to drive a monster truck instead of a car. The basics must be learned: control the fastball. If you can do that you can win all the way up until the time your arm is mature enought to learn pitches that require more physical maturity. Bottom line: Teaching a child to throw a curve or a slider before they master the control of a fastball and/or are physically able to handle it is baseball malpractice.
Scott, I have to completely agree. I will NEVER teach anyone a breaking pitch until they are at least 16 in my book. I could be way off but I believe if you can't pitch with just a fast ball then you need to find a different position. This might sound arrogant but I really believe I could have thrown 100% fastballs until I played AA baseball. By what you are saying in spotting the fastball and keeping hitters off the plate. I know that I NEVER threw a breaking pitch in a game until I was in Junior legion ball and that was 16 for me. And back then it was a curve ball or what is now called a slurve and a drop ball which is a curve ball. I do teach some young pitchers the circle change but only if they throw it properly. It takes a lot of time to develop but once you do understand it and get a feel for it you can use it in any count for sure.
Great points Scott and Kip, Changeup as well should and can be taught at a very early age and its not hard to throw at all. It's paying off for my pitching staffs for sure.

I also believe a properly throw curveball can be thrown by pitchers younger than 16, but the experience and understanding you get from developing a changeup and watching what timing disruption can do to hitters is always my first lesson on a pitching staff.

Kip, your slider and mine are quite similar, except I emphasized pressure on my top middle finger. Its the coaches that teach the supinated slider that I've seen on YouTube and other sites. But also remember, from college to pro, you're a big strong boy. It's the growing, not yet strong enough young pitcher with the too-much-information-but-not-well-informed coach or parent that I am regarding.
Sure, at the college level let em loose. I want to see the change up that you're teaching that is easy to throw. You should market it as well.
My video is on checkswing. How to Throw a Changeup.
Here is the video Ruben mentioned:

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