Throwing a slider

Even if you throw a slider with correct form, is there an age you should be at before you throw it?

17-18 is probably the most common recommendation for the slider.

I would say, that depends. Some pitchers have matured physically at an earlier age and so fifteen or sixteen might be a good time to start. And some others who have been having problems with the curve ball just might find the slider easier to work with, because the wrist action is actually less stressful when the pitch is thrown correctly. I learned the slider at sixteen, and I learned it from an active major league pitcher who threw a good one—Ed Lopat, one of the Yankees’ fabled Big Three rotation. He told me, “Throw it like a curve, but roll your wrist, don’t snap it”, and he showed me the off-center grip and demonstrated the easier wrist action—then he handed me the ball and said “Go ahead—try it.” While I was familiarizing myself with the pitch he watched me; he noted that I was a true sidearmer with a consistent release point, and he noted some other things, and what he was doing was forming in his mind a jumping-off point from which he could work with me.
That slider was the beginning of a wonderful pitching relationship, and it became my strikeout pitch. So—in general, I would say that sixteen is not too early to start working on it. When thrown correctly, it’s not only easier to throw and to control, it’s also easier on the arm and shoulder than just about anything else in a pitcher’s repertoire. :slight_smile:

I feel less torque and strain when throwing a slider then a curve my problem is i cant throw my slider consistently but when i do its great, the form in a slider is fastball fastball fastball and at last second you twist ytour wrist a little and tuck into stomach atleast how i can explain it best. the slider seems to be more of an effective pitch for power pitchers as generally when you throw it harder it has sharper bite and compliments the 4seam/2seam well ive found people that throw a little slower benefit more from the curve.

Thanks guys. A friend of mine has been throwing a slider, but he says it makes his arm hurt. He’s 16 years old, so he should probably wait a year or two.

It shouldn’t hurt. Is he, perhaps, throwing it incorrectly? He should check out what he’s doing with that pitch and make some adjustments if need be.
Yes, most pitchers who are having problems with the curve ball find the slider easier to work with, and no, it really doesn’t matter whether one is a power pitcher or a finesse pitcher. I was one of the latter—a real snake-jazzer—and I had a sharp late break on my slider; I threw sidearm and used the crossfire extensively, and batters always had a problem picking it up. 8)

Well I just had to chime in here… the slider is my bread and butter…

What I was taught (by a royals scout nonetheless) is what was mentioned above: Fastball fastball fastball, then at the last second arm action.

I was taught to move your fingers as if you were opening a door, but without moving the wrist. In other words… thumb rotates up, index/middle fingers rotate down. I’ve never thrown a curve due to my low 3/4 arm slot so I can’t really compare the two… but I do get sharp break and my arm never hurts… In fact I read somewhere a slider when thrown correctly produces less strain on the arm than a curveball.

Yep, you’ve got it!
There have been a lot of pitchers who had trouble with the curveball and who found the slider easier to work with. For example, Vic Raschi, another member of the Yankees’ Big Three rotation. He didn’t have an “Aunt Susie”, as they called a curveball way back when—and he didn’t need it. He had a devastating slider, an overpowering fast ball, and a very good changeup, and he won 21 games three seasons running with those three pitches.
As I mentioned earlier, I learned the slider at age sixteen from Ed Lopat, and I got the hang of it pretty quickly. I spent a whole winter and part of the spring of 1952 working on it until I had what I wanted with it, and I never had any trouble. Also, as I mentioned, I threw sidearm, and I used the crossfire so much that one time when Lopat was helping me with my circle change he said to me, "I know you’re going to crossfire it. You use that move with everything you throw."
You said you throw from a low 3/4 angle, which is getting pretty close to sidearm—I’ll bet if you actually threw sidearm you could make good use of the crossfire, and there are other things you could do that will not work with any other delivery. In any event, that’s exactly the case—the slider is easier to throw and to control than any other delivery, and it’s easier on the arm and the shoulder than anything else. I know. It was my strikeout pitch, and I had a couple of interesting variations of it; for example, I threw it with any of several knuckleball grips (something else I learned from Mr. Lopat), and what it did to the batters was nobody’s business!
Let me share a funny story with you about the first time I used it in a game. After some months of working around with it, I felt comfortable enough with it to use it in a game, and at one time in early August of 1952 I did just that. I had to come into the game in relief in the seventh inning—the other team had cut our lead from 6-0 to 6-4, they had the bases loaded with one out, and our starting pitcher had to leave the game because he had developed a nasty blister on his pitching hand and couldn’t get a grip on the ball. I took the ball and assured the guy that I would get us out of this jam. The first batter I would be facing was a pinch-hitter—a dangerous guy who was hitting for their second baseman and who would stay in the game. I called my catcher out to the mound and told him to signal for just the slider, nothing else, because I wanted to see how it would work. Well, to make a long story short, I struck out the guy on three of them, the last one being a crossfire, and the dumb cluck never took the bat off his shoulder—he stood there and went “duh”.
Nice pitch. :slight_smile: 8) :baseballpitcher:

To headphon3s: I’m back. Had to take something off the stove before I started a fire. Now let me continue my story.
Two out, and the next batter was the opposition’s leadoff hitter, a guy who would go after anything no matter where it was pitched. I knew I would have to deal with him differently, so not having a fast ball to speak of I started him with a curve ball. He swung late on it and fouled it off. Strike one. Then I fed him a knuckle-curve (my second best pitch), and he swung and missed it by a mile. I then thought I would waste one, just to see how he would react, and I threw a pitch about a foot outside. He took it, and I had the feeling he was sitting on The Pitch I Didn’t Have. Okay, 1-2 the count, and I came in there with my crossfire slider. He swung—and lost his balance and fell over on his heinie with his arms and legs up in the air like some overturned bug! Strike three, side retired, and the sight of that guy on his backside sent me and my teammates into spasms of pure hilarity.
When I told Ed Lopat (he was my pitching coach for almost four years and one of the finest anyone could ever hope to work with) about this incident),the joke was born, and from then on every time we would discuss my strikeouts the Bug would come into the picture. :smiley: