Head first vs. stand up

Looking for accurate research regarding which is faster for the same batter runner; a head first or stand up touch at first base. There is info out there but very nebulous. There is reason to attempt one style vs. the other but no factual evidence which favors the exact speed of one or the other.

I’d be interested in seeing that as well.

My own theory is that sliding always slows you down. Once you hit the ground, friction kicks in to slow you down. I know some feel that if you dive head first that that you can lunge and pick up some speed. But I don’t believe that’s possible if you’re already running your fastest.

Besides, why do runners trying to beat a throw into home plate start their slide late, reach back to touch the plate with their hand, and then slide past the plate? They know they’ll get their faster by staying on their feet longer.

When Mike Greenwell was with the Red Sox he was notorious for the head first slide into first base. Management continued to discourage it to no avail. It created much discussion. A skeptical friend insists head first is faster and will not accept my logic which you refer too. The fact that the runner must change his mentality and body position to attempt the head first should be proof in addition to the friction created. We all know that a slide is used to slow down safely , to avoid tag and to prevent passing the base unless it,s a hook or fade away. Evidence available supports our logic but but it seems such a test would be difficult since you would have to use the same runner in an identical situation to arrive at the precise timing. This is a case of 2 pig-headed guys trying to convince each other with proof not speculation. Thanks for your thoughts

Logially it seems that head first wouldn’t be faster but i have no proof…

I think that it’s also mental. If you think its faster you might run faster to get there and even though that slide is slower you may get their faster because your mind is saying its faster. So in the end it may be faster b/c someone thinks that running up the whole time would be slower than sliding.

Just a thought

Why doesn’t someone get out there with a stopwatch and find out?


O :wink:

I’m also thinking a head first slide into first would make it more difficult for the umpire to tell when the arm gets to the base opposed to the foot…also on some fields lots of dirt comes up when sliding which makes it that much harder for the ump too…just a thought

Here are a couple points of logic:

(1) As soon as you start to dive/slide, you stop doing that which propels you forward. Therefore, you start to slow down.

(2) If you’re already running as fast as your legs can propel you then, by definition, they cannot propel you any faster (dive or no dive). If you’re able to dive and gain speed, then you are slacking off.

To comment on the go out and time it idea; it’s not as simple as taking a stop watch and the same runner because the correct answer which I am trying to identify would take a more technical test. For example, a start trigger line would provide an accurate start time and a pressure sensitive device on first base might have to be used to get the difference in times which will be much closer than most would realize. Our college team was involved in a similar study relative to a long last stride to the base vs. running through at normal stride. Roger alluded to this with the comment that when one foot is always on the ground a runner is always moving forward. The long leap was faster even when hitting the closest side of first. It was also demonstrated to us that the lefty might be slower to first than his start as a rhb.

Just realized that I noted the long leap was faster, not so.

Any track and field fans out there … ever see a sprinter dive head first for the tape ?

I’ve certainly seen a sprinter lean forward at the tape. A posture change is different than speeding up one’s center of gravity. However, if it works to get one part of the body to the tape quicker then it achieves the goal. I suppose you could consider dropping down and extending the hands forward (or kicking the feet forward in the case of a feet-first slide) a posture change. But I would imagine that a drastic posture change might introduce more inefficiencies than a slight posture change if for no other reason that it takes more time and therefore you stop running sooner.

Dunno. Except that I’m pretty certain that once you hit the ground you slow down.

exactly …

Fielders often dive for balls rather than trying to catch it on the run. Is it faster for them to dive or catching it on the run? If we follow the “logic” in this thread then, catching it on the run should be faster.

I think Roger is correct in regards to “friction” however; fielders, particularly outfielders, demonstrate consistently that a dive is the fastest route to the ball seemingly out of reach. Conclusion: if you slide into first base head first, time it so your body does not hit the ground until you touch the base first.

If you dive close to the bag I think you will get there faster.
The way you dive towards the bag might not really give you a speed boost but the added length of your arms might be bigger than a person’s running stride. It takes less time to get to the bag because the added length of your arms might make up for any speed you may have lost.

Just a thought.

I know for a fact when i slide head first its faster because i never actullay move my weight back, thus i am still moving at a decent click towards the b ase

I appreciate that some are responding to my original post. It may be one thing to personally feel that one is faster than another but that is not proof that a study would determine. Pete Rose used a head first swimming style dive and made it tough on his back. Some slide head first into a base and continue over it which can lead to hand, finger and shoulder injury. It is stylish for outfielders to dive to catch a ball and it is impressive but the greats, like Joe D {sorry if you don’t remember} and the early Hall of Fame outfielders ran like crazy to catch a ball on the run and could still follow up on the play if it dropped… A slide makes the follow up too slow. Of course it is safer and makes sense to slide going toward a wall or dugout to catch a ball, but thats another topic…Someone out there must have access to some scientific findings.

That’s an excellent point. I would like to see someone argue against that logic. If it was faster, everyone would be doing it and they would have to put mats around the finish line so that the sprinters would not hurt themselves.

Sliding is simply a way of avoiding a tag from my perspective.

If I hit a ground ball weakly to first and the 1B can’t get to the bag and has to tag me then I would slide headfirst. A pickoff I slide because, it’s instinct, I’ve been taught to avoid the tag.

In the College World Series game between ASU and UC Irvine an ASU play hit the ball into play and ran to 1B. As he approached 1B, the throw caused the 1st baseman to jump in the air to catch the ball. The ASU player immediately hit the ground to avoid the tag. He was safe.

Very heads up play.

Roger…saw the game and you are correct. Now, please, should that be a skill learned in LL. Heads up players are great to watch because they remember when to use the things they learned. And, what a game played by Irvine and Fullerton!!