In Baseball, How do I Throw a Slider?

Dan Cavallari

In baseball, a pitcher has an arsenal of different pitchers to befuddle the batter. The most common are the fastball and curveball, but beyond those two staple pitches lay a plethora of different pitches suited for different situations. One such pitch is a slider, which is part fastball and part curveball. It can be difficult to throw a slider, but it can also be one of the most effective pitches for striking out a batter.

The arm motion a pitcher uses for a slider is the same as a fastball, although he holds the ball off center.
The arm motion a pitcher uses for a slider is the same as a fastball, although he holds the ball off center.

The movement of a slider resembles a fastball as it approaches home plate. Many batters will assume the pitch is a fastball, in fact, which makes them adjust their swing accordingly. However, at the last moment, the slider will break down and away from the batter, causing him to swing over the pitch or miss it in some other capacity. When pitchers throw a slider, the pitch does not move as slow as a curveball, though it has a similar motion; and it does not move as fast as a fastball, though it takes on the appearance of one as it approaches the plate. The slider does not break as severely as a curveball; the motion is much shorter.

Sliders can be difficult and potentially dangerous for young pitchers.
Sliders can be difficult and potentially dangerous for young pitchers.

It can be difficult as well as potentially dangerous to throw a slider, especially for young pitcher. The arm motion a pitcher will use to throw a slider resembles that of a fastball, but the ball is held off center, usually while applying pressure against the ball with the middle finger. Throwing the pitch puts stress on the wrist and elbow, as the arm must whip in a similar fashion to a curveball motion, though not as severe. This motion can lead to arm injury in the elbow, wrist and shoulder, and therefore only developed pitchers should throw a slider.

The rotation of the ball when pitchers throw a slider causes it to drop down and away from the batter. This usually results in a pop-up or weak ground ball, as the batter is caught off guard by the late motion of the slider. When batters have two strikes against them, it is not uncommon to see an off-speed pitch come at them, like a curve ball or a change-up. The slider, however, is unique in that it appears to be a fastball until it’s too late for the batter to adjust; therefore, pitchers will often throw a slider when the batter has two strikes against him.

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Discussion Comments


I'm just curious, but is there any way to throw a slider in softball? I have a general idea how it is thrown in baseball and wonder if it could be carried over.

Obviously, it would be difficult to make the ball curve down and away, but you might be able to make it go up and away. What differences would there be in mechanics? If anyone knows how you can throw a slider in softball, I'd be interested to know.


@kentuckycat - That's really a tough call without knowing your son. In most cases, I would say 7th grade might be a little bit too soon, but it really just depends on his skill level, and the program he is in.

I didn't start throwing sliders until I was a freshman in high school, and even then, I only used the pitch occasionally in opportune situations.

You may want to talk to his coach and see what he thinks. Like drtroubles mentioned, just make sure he knows to stop throwing if he ever feels any tightness or soreness. Not stopping is a sure fire way to do long term elbow or shoulder damage.


My son is just starting junior high baseball. He has been pitching ever since the age when little league coaches stop doing the pitching.

I was never a pitcher when I played baseball, and I only have a limited knowledge of what goes into it or how to throw the different pitches.

I've looked at a few videos online about how to throw a slider, because I know it can be a very effective pitch, and I think I might be able to handle at least teaching him the basics. I'm just curious how much strain it puts on the arm, and whether I should let him start throwing it or wait a couple more years. At the moment, he just throws fastballs and curveballs.


My dad taught me how to throw a curveball, and then he transitioned into the lesson on how to throw a slider. Both of these moves are quite difficult and you can easily get injured, so it is a good idea to have a real old pro show you the ropes.

When my dad was teaching me he really emphasized proper form and stopping if my arm started to hurt. He didn't want me damaging any tendons or muscles.

Right now I am really looking into how to throw a knuckle slider, as I am interested in finding some new pitches that will really wreak havoc with my friend's team. I love surprising them with new pitches.


One of the last things I taught my little brother about baseball was how to throw a slider step by step. My little brother was always watching baseball on TV and playing with his friends at the park and I thought it would be fun to teach him how to throw a slider pitch.

I believe it is quite hard to describe how to throw the perfect slider pitch, as it is really something that needs to be shown to you firsthand. A good thing to do is to get a friend to take you down to the ballpark and walk you through it.

To prepare in advance you can always watch a how to throw a slider video, which may help you out a bit.

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