Teaching The Slider

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Youth pitching program
ATTENTION PITCHERS: One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

Andrew Miller slider pitching gif
Andrew Miller slider

How to grip a slider

This is up to an individual pitcher. It depends on hand size, strength and feel. The following is a basic grip which has been successful for pitchers I’ve worked with.

  1. Grip the ball across the wide seams like on a 4 seam fastball, but relating to a clock, place the first finger between 12 and 1 o’clock and the thumb at 7 o’clock. The first finger pad is across the wide seam with a firm pressure.
  2. The ball is slightly off-centered to the inside of the hand
  3. The main pressure points are the first finger and thumb
  4. The  middle finger rests on the seam, and the ball is stabilized by resting up against a flexed third finger
  5. The ball is held slightly deeper in the hand than on the fast ball, but not as deep as for the curve. The grip is slightly firmer than the fast ball.

The mechanics of throwing a slider

Arm action:

  1. When throwing the slider, the pitcher should think fast ball. Use the normal range of motion - do not cock or curl the wrist.
  2. As the hand and wrist come into the acceleration phase, the wrist will turn slightly inward, but the 1st finger must stay on top of the ball.
  3. The hand and elbow should stay at the same height and release position as on the fastball.
  4. The arm path and release point should be the same as the fast ball until the ball is released. Then comes a major change: after release, think of short arming the hand back outside the hip sooner than on the fastball. Do not try to get full extension of the arm to the plate. This technique will reduce the forces on the elbow.
  5. The action of the body will be the same as on he fastball.

Release point:

  1. During the acceleration and release phase, the wrist should be cocked to a 1/4 turn open to the inside.
  2. The first finger must remain on top of the ball and cut down through the outside as the thumb comes up through the inside of the ball. This action creates the side spin.
  3. The wrist should flex forward with no inward turn.
  4. Upon release, many pitchers feel a burning sensation on their 1st finger. This is a good teaching check point showing the finger cuts down through the outside of the ball.

Considerations for learning a slider

Most pitchers learn how to throw either a slider or a curveball as their primary breaking pitch. Not both. It's been my experience that when pitchers try to learn both pitches, neither one is particularly effective.

Here are some things to consider when comparing the two pitches:

5 advantages of throwing a slider versus a curveball

  1. Easier to control - Doesn’t have a big break.
  2. Easier to teach and learn - Some pitchers can not throw an effective curve due to lack of wrist flexion or finger length.
  3. Has more velocity than a curveball.
  4. Has a sharper and later break.
  5. It is more difficult for a batter to recognize the rotation and break.

3 disadvantages of throwing a slider versus a curveball

  1. If thrown improperly, it may cause more stress and increase chance of injury to elbow or shoulder.
  2. Attempting to throw the slider and curveball often confuses a young pitcher and neither pitch is very effective.
  3. A poor breaking slider thrown in the wrong location is a great pitch to hit because it’s less than the speed of a fastball and has very little break.

Learning different pitches

Remember this: Even though this site describes a method of throwing five or six different pitches, it does not mean any pitcher should attempt to learn or throw all these pitches.

High school and college pitchers should try to master just three pitches. Even many major league pitchers are successful with three basic pitches. Some may add a specialty or fourth pitch as they get more experienced.

Youth pitchers 14 and under should concentrate on developing the fastball and learning to throw it to spots, plus learning to change speeds on the pitch.

Pitchers who haven't reached puberty should not throw breaking pitches competitively due to their lack of muscle, ligament and bone development. The breaking pitches create more stress on the elbow joint and bicep in young pitchers may not be developed enough to properly decelerate the forearm.

Get my pitching velocity program

Youth pitching program
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

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