Slider


#1

Son is a freshman LHP. He will be 15 this March and is 6’ 2" tall and a 170lbs. So he is a good sized athletic kid, lanky but not skinny.

He is taking pitching lessons for the first time (He has been pitching for several years…basically all fastballs). He has learned to throw a slider (picked it up easily) a cutter and a split finger change up. His instructor is also a LHP so they have a great connection and he has really helped son tweak his mechanics to improve his control so that is why I think he picked up the new pitches rather quickly.

I am very comfortable with him throwing the slider as he has learned to throw it properly and doesn’t throw many in a session. His instructor and I have both cautioned him in “falling in love” with it and throwing it too often even when he is having success with it. Saving it as a strike out pitch when needed. He has an excellent hard 2 seamer with a lot of movement so he uses that a majority of the time.

I guess my question to you all is how often is too often in the course of a game 5…10…20…30 ??? Also is it as effective against a RHH as I would think it would be against a LHH? I’d think he’d throw the cutter more often to a righty and the slider to a lefty.

Any thoughts are appreciated.


#2

Conventional thinking is: Throw curveballs/sliders more to same-handed hitters…a RHP’s slider breaks down and away to a RHH. The same pitch obviously breaks down and in to a LHH, but many consider low and in more dangerous (from the pitcher’s point of view) than low and away.

As for frequency of use, and the exact situations where it works best…I used to look for formulaic answers to that sort of question, but not so much anymore. Depends on how good his slider is, how much confidence he has with it, how closely his slider delivery resembles his FB delivery, how well his splitter works, what the opposing batters seem to be having trouble with, etc, etc, etc.

My son is also 15 and he is learning to pitch with a similar selection to your son’s: FB (not a cutter though), slider, splitter. I’d say the main thing to do is get him to use all three pitches to the point where he can command them for strikes at any time in the count. Assuming he has good command of the FB right now, it might even be useful for him to work a little more often with the splitty and the slider right now, to bring those pitches up to par…even if he has to occasionally bend some of the strategy rules to learn what his individual strengths and weaknesses might be.

When he develops to the point that he has three equally good options every time he pitches the ball, your kid is going to have a lot of success.


#3

I agree with laflippin in that some days you may need the slider more than others, depending on how the fastball is working and, perhaps, how many RHH’s or LHH’s are in the other team’s lineup. As a rule, though, I’d say not more than 20% or 20 out of 100 pitches.


#4

Ooooohhhh…you just pushed my favorite button!
I learned the slider when I was sixteen years old, and it became my strikeout pitch. I was a natural sidearmer who used the crossfire a lot, and I could throw that pitch either way, “normal” or with that crossfire, and the batters didn’t like it one bit because I was always getting them out with it. A bit later I picked up another version of it—the “slip” pitch, which is a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip, and I used several such grips, which discombooberated the batters even more, yuk yuk yuk. I built my entire arsenal around old Filthy McNasty (which I nicknamed after a character in a W.C. Fields movie because that was exactly what it was), and I had great success with it.
The day I asked Ed Lopat about that pitch he drew me aside and showed me how to throw it. He told me, “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it.” He showed me the off-center grip and demonstrated the wrist action, then handed me the ball and said “Go ahead, try it.” I got the hang of it in about ten minutes, and I worked on it over the winter, and in August of 1952 I had my first opportunity to use it in a game; I came into the game in relief in the seventh inning and retired the side, I pitched two more scoreless innings, and there it was. What a beautiful pitch! :slight_smile: 8)


#5

The slider is also my favorite pitch… it’s just really fun to see how much bite you can get on it imo… admittedly, I am a nerd (#1 hs in IL ftw), and I’m actually doing a project for physics on my own slider using high speed cameras to try and find an equation or something along those lines as to how much the velocity affects the RPM.

But generally in games I don’t believe I’ve thrown it more than 10-15 times… the pitching coach here is a big anti-slider guy but seeing as how I throw 3/4, I find a curveball almost impossible so he allows me to use it.


#6

Awwww…the pitching coach doesn’t like sliders? My guess is either he couldn’t throw one or he couldn’t hit one. But I’m happy that he lets you use it; maybe when he sees how you keep getting the batters out with it he’ll change his tune. :slight_smile:
There have been plenty of pitchers who have used it successfully. Way back when, the Yankees had a pitcher named Spud Chandler who had a most devastating one. A bit later on, Vic Raschi—he was a big righthander who had a blazing fast ball and an even deadlier slider. And Jeff Nelson, who pitched for the Yankees for several seasons, had it as his strikeout pitch. And there have been many others, too numerous to mention. The fact is, when thrown correctly it’s easier on the arm and shoulder tnan anything else, including the curve ball. So stay with it. 8)


#7

To be honest, I like the sinker. It puts less stress on the arm than the slider and is more devastating since batters see more sliders than sinkers.

The cutter’s nice also.


#8

My feelings exactly. I really don’t like the school I play for… I was a knuckleball pitcher from 6-8th grade and had gotten the hang of it around 7th grade, pitching with it effectively in 8th grade. Then I got to this school and I haven’t thrown it in a game since… I’ve been keeping with it in practices and pens… I hope once I get to college I can put it back into my arsenal.


#9

I really don’t like the slider for younger players. Sure, if thrown properly, maybe it’s not that harmful, but I know very few players all the way through high school who have the strength and feel to not twist their arm through the motion.

Ideally, the pitch should just be set and the angle kept through release, but I find that difficult. Also, the pitch needs to have a really good finish to be effective, which means keeping the arm supinated longer than desired.


#10

My breaking ball of choice is also a slider. At a 6’3" 205lb lefty, I project similarly to the original posts lefty son (in HS I was 180lbs). By the age of 15, I have no problem teaching my clients how to throw a slider. As mentioned earlier, if thrown correctly, the slider puts very little strain on the arm. I am a huge proponent of making every pitch you throw look as much like your fastball out of your hand as possible. This is esspecially true with the slider.

As to the question about “how often to throw it,” By the time you hit high school, you must learn to pitch…not just throw. You must learn to know what pitches are working best for you that day and capitalize on those pitches. I always preach the “attack with the fastball” theory of pitching. However, if your slider is better that day, or you find yourself behind in a count and you can throw that pitch for strike…THROW IT.

To make a long story longer…do not limit yourself to certain number of times a game you can throw a pitch…feel the situation and throw the best pitch for that situation. That being said…I’d say on average, the percentage of sliders can get up to 30% with your fastball being more than half your pitches most often. [/i]


#11

My breaking ball of choice is also a slider. At a 6’3" 205lb lefty, I project similarly to the original posts lefty son (in HS I was 180lbs). By the age of 15, I have no problem teaching my clients how to throw a slider. As mentioned earlier, if thrown correctly, the slider puts very little strain on the arm. I am a huge proponent of making every pitch you throw look as much like your fastball out of your hand as possible. This is esspecially true with the slider.

As to the question about “how often to throw it,” By the time you hit high school, you must learn to pitch…not just throw. You must learn to know what pitches are working best for you that day and capitalize on those pitches. I always preach the “attack with the fastball” theory of pitching. However, if your slider is better that day, or you find yourself behind in a count and you can throw that pitch for strike…THROW IT.

To make a long story longer…do not limit yourself to certain number of times a game you can throw a pitch…feel the situation and throw the best pitch for that situation. That being said…I’d say on average, the percentage of sliders can get up to 30% with your fastball being more than half your pitches most often. [/i]


#12

As I said once before, in another post on another topic, when you’re warming up prior to a game you need to throw all your pitches to see how they’re working. There will be days when one or another of them will go into hiding and refuse to come out—the curve ball hangs, the knuckler won’t knuckle, the fast ball doesn’t have its usual hippity-hop, whatever—and if you see this happening with a particular pitch, stick it back on the shelf and give it a day off. You have other stuff to throw, and you can use it.
Jim Brosnan, in his book “Pennant Race” (a most entertaining read), tells of the day when Jay Hook was pitching for Cincinnati, and the Pirates were eating him alive. They were converting everything he threw into line-drive extra-base hits. Finally the manager had to take him out of the game, and when he returned to the dugout he sat in a corner and loudly bemoaned the absence of his fast ball, which had just up and deserted him. In vain did Brosnan try to talk to him, telling him “Nobody has all his best stuff every time out. That’s when you learn this game. You have other pitches to throw; use them when your fast ball isn’t there.” Hook appeared not to hear him; he kept moaning, over and over and over, "Without my fast ball I can’t pitch."
Ever try talking to the wall? Well, Hook didn’t last too long in the majors after that. The point is, don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap. You do have other stuff you can use, and don’t forget that basketful of changeups at your disposal. And—there’s the slider. If you have that working for you, use it for all it’s worth, go for the strikeout with it. It’s a devastating pitch. 8)