Would love to hear from members who teach or throw this pitch what tips you have about throwing the slider. What grip do you use? What mechanics do you think about?
Ooooh—once again you have pushed my favorite button.
I learned the slider from a Yankee pitcher who threw a very good one, and here’s what he told me: “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it.” He showed me the grip he used—very much offcenter, index and middle fingers very close together with the middle finger just touching one seam, fourth and fifth fingers curled up on one side of the ball, thumb underneath for support. When he demonstrated the wrist action—first slow-motion and then at normal speed—it was rather like a chef flipping a pancake or a crepe, much easier than for a curveball; then he handed me the ball and said softly, “Go ahead—try it.” I got the hang of the pitch in about ten minutes, but I was well aware that one doesn’t master that pitch overnight, and so I worked at it and refined it for some eight months, and the first time I had occasion to use it in a game(in a relief appearance) I got a bunch of strikeouts with it. When I added the crossfire, the pitch was just about unhittable! It became my strikeout pitch in short order, and it served me very well for the 22+ years I pitched.
You can change up on it if you wish—I preferred to use the hard slider, with or without the crossfire, because I had much better control. And sidearm—which was my own natural delivery—that was how I threw it. (Thank you, Ed Lopat.)
My slider got me through high school and nabbed me a LOT of strikeouts over the years. When I first tried it at around age 14 my dad insisted we go buy catcher’s gear at Play It Again Sports because he was scared to catch it.
That being said, I threw a kind of unorthodox slider. I just gripped a four seam fastball and put all of my pressure on the middle finger. My index never really touched the ball, and I just thought “cut the ball in half” while imparting the intuitive spin it needs. I really had to focus on not rushing down the mound and staying “behind” it, but when I got in the zone with it, it was lights out. Not a true slider because it was probably 8-10 mph slower than my FB. More slurvy than anything. But it moved late from about 2 to 8 o clock.