In my first article you learned what causes so many injuries sliding and how to avoid them. In the second you learned how to truly distribute your weight and slide instead of just doing a seat drop. In this article it is time to put it all together and actually slide. I hope you are stoked because I’ve been waiting 3 long months to see you do this. Well 3 long months to tell you to do it and hope that you’d at least email me and say “I slid, I slid, I slid …. I totally did a real slide and now I’m the greatest ball player in the world.” Or whatever your version of letting me know might be.
The first thing I want you to understand before taking that next step is that it’s always about safety. This month you need to do every drill, even the ones on your own with a helmet on. I’ve got nothing but time so go get it and put it on now.
As you lay down and distribute your weight the last piece of safety involves keeping your eyes on your toes. As long as you do that your head won’t slam into the ground. The extra benefit of looking at your toes is that you’ll be able to actually see the base and the player who may be trying to tag you out. Those two things might not be as pretty as the birdie up in the air but both are more important to your being safe than the bird is so look at them instead. Go and practice laying back so that your shoulder blades touch the ground, your arms straight back but your eyes stay focused on your toes. After you think you have that you are ready for 1 more drill on your own.
No matter where you live if you have been to a Cracker Barrel you have seen a rocking chair. If you don’t live in a part of the world with Cracker Barrel restaurants I’m willing to bet you’ve seen a rocking chair anyway. The reason I bring them up is because unless you tip to far back they don’t slam into the ground, they simply rock down and rock right back forward. To me it only seems logical that rocking is a lot safer than say slamming your back into the ground when you slide. So as you sit on the ground with your arms up in the air and eyes on your toes I want you relax your core muscles and actually picture your back being like a rocking chair nice and round, and rock down and rock back up instead of slamming down and struggling to get back up. Each time you do this drill try and speed things up. Rock down and back up faster and faster and faster.
One thing that you’ll notice in the video is that I don’t edit out the mistakes that Caitlin or Walker make. It isn’t because I’m lazy it is because I want you to know that I realize players aren’t perfect. Not you and not even the girls that I choose to use to shoot videos to help players around the world like you learn. The one thing you will see in all of my videos though is that I ask them to work on 1 thing at a time so that their next slide is better than the previous one. I hope that yours are as well. Another item I really want to point out as you watch the video this month is that at 1 point I said something to Caitlin while Walker was to far away to hear for sure what I said. As she came running to the bat she stopped because she was unsure what I might have said. I could have edited that out but sliding is just 1 skill in this great game. The bigger point I wanted to be sure you took away was that there is nothing wrong with asking questions even when you are shooting a video. Be sure you fully understand what you’re supposed to and what the expectations are.
Now that you’ve done everything you can do on your own and you’ve watched the video it’s time to head to a real field and find someone who can hold the bat for you for your final few drills with the bat. If you are going to make your parents take you the least you can do is buy them some ice cream afterwards to thank them. The drill for this month is very similar to the final drills last month. Come running at the bat as fast as you can, use it as leverage as you distribute your weight but now you are ready to actually let go of it. Even if you come to a complete stop I want you to actually let go of the bat, rock your shoulders to the ground and rock back up. Each time you progress you should be able to let go sooner and sooner so that you’ll actually be able to slide.
When I started this series 2 months ago knowing that many of you were afraid to slide. I seriously would be very happy to hear from any of you who have now gotten through that fear and are GETTING DIRTY the safe way.