How to Use a Baseball Sliding Mitt Properly

How to Use a Baseball Sliding Mitt Properly

For baseball players of all ages and skill levels, knowing how to safely and effectively execute a slide into a base is an essential skill. Not only can a well-executed slide help you steal an extra base or avoid being tagged out, but it can also prevent injuries that may occur from sliding improperly. Mastering the baseball slide requires understanding the different types of slides, learning proper sliding techniques, and using the right protective sliding equipment, like sliding mitt and pads. With the right knowledge and gear, you can slide with confidence and make your coaches and teammates proud. This complete guide will teach you everything you need to know to slide like a pro.

The Basics of Baseball Sliding

Before we dive into sliding techniques and gear, let’s review some key sliding basics:

  • Sliding is used to avoid tags and steal bases. When sliding into a base, your goal is to evade the fielder’s tag and reach the base safely.
  • Proper sliding technique is important to avoid injuries. Sliding improperly can lead to cuts, bruises, jammed fingers, and even broken bones. Mastering proper form keeps you safe.
  • Different types of slides are used in different situations. The most common are the feet-first slide, head-first slide, and pop-up slide. Each has their time and place.
  • Sliding feet-first is recommended for beginners and younger players for safety reasons. It helps avoid head and finger injuries.
  • Pads and sliding mitts protect your body when sliding. They absorb impact and allow you to slide confidently without fear of pain.

Now that you understand the role of sliding and why learning proper technique is so important, let’s look at the most effective slides and when to use them.

The Basics of Baseball Sliding

Types of Baseball Slides

There are three main slides used in baseball – the feet-first slide, head-first slide, and pop-up slide. Mastering all three will make you a versatile, well-rounded base runner.

The Feet-First Slide

This is the safest and most fundamental slide technique. It’s the one beginners should learn and practice first.

To perform a proper feet-first slide:

  • Approach the base running at full speed
  • 3-4 steps before the base, bend your leading leg and drop to your buttocks
  • Extend both legs forward, keeping them straight
  • Lean back slightly, using your hands for support
  • Lift your back leg and bring it forward right before reaching the base
  • Once your leading foot touches the base, pop up quickly into a running position

The feet-first slide allows you to see the base and avoid oversliding. Leaning back helps avoid tags. Keeping your legs extended protects your lower body. This is the go-to slide choice in most game situations.

The Head-First Slide

The head-first slide is more aggressive and quicker than the feet-first version. It can help you steal an extra fraction of a second on close plays.

To properly execute a head-first slide:

  • Approach at full speed in an athletic position
  • 3-4 steps before the base, lean forward, and bring your head down towards the ground
  • Extend both arms forward on the ground past the base
  • Keep your legs straight and together, using your core strength to lift your lower body
  • Once your hands touch the base, quickly pull your arms back and stand up to run

This slide allows you to start decelerating sooner while getting your hands to the base quicker. But it does carry a higher injury risk. Use it sparingly and with caution.

The Pop-Up Slide

The pop-up slide is a safer alternative to the head-first slide. It enables you to stand up faster while still getting your hands down quickly.

To perform a proper pop-up slide:

  • Approach at full speed in an athletic position
  • 3-4 steps before the base, drop to your knees
  • Lean forward and place both hands on the ground in front of you
  • Keep your head up while sliding on your knees/hands towards the base
  • As you make contact with the base, lift your back knee up into a running position

The pop-up slide requires less flexibility than the head-first. It still allows quick pop-ups and explosive changes of direction. Use it when you need speed but want to avoid diving forward.

Knowing when to use each type of slide is as important as the sliding techniques themselves.

When to Use Each Type of Slide

When to Use Each Type of Slide

Choose the right slide for the game situation:

  • Feet-first – Safe choice for beginners. It’s also good for stealing second base or when you have no urgency to pop-up quickly.
  • Head-first – Use it to eek out extra speed on close plays at any base. Not needed in low pressure situations. Higher injury risk.
  • Pop-up – Ideal for stealing third base when popping up quickly to advance home is critical. Gives you speed with less diving risk.

Now that you know the most common baseball slides and when to utilize them, let’s go over some key sliding tips to remember:

  • Stay low – Don’t start your slide too early. Wait until 3-4 steps before the base.
  • Keep loose – Don’t tense up. Stay relaxed to better absorb contact and avoid muscle strains.
  • Get small – Make yourself compact coming into the base to avoid contact with fielders.
  • Hands up – Keep your hands elevated to avoid jammed or broken fingers from tagging.
  • Know when to slide – Only slide when necessary. Running through is faster when you won’t be tagged.
  • Feet first – When in doubt, stick to the feet-first slide until you master form and gain experience.

The proper sliding technique will only get you so far. Using high quality sliding mitts and protective gear is equally important for staying safe on the base paths.

Choosing the Right Sliding Mitt for Baseball & Softball

A good sliding mitt is essential for any baseball or softball player concerned with protection and performance. High quality mitts provide padding to absorb impact while also enabling you to slide faster. What should you look for in choosing the right mitt?

Key features to consider in a sliding mitt:

Padding: Multiple layers of foam, felt, or gel padding to dissipate impact and abrasion. Thicker padding for more protection.

Palm design: Finger holes or open palm design for better grip and ball control when sliding hands-first.

Wrist support: Secure wrist strap ensures the mitt stays on when sliding. Avoid mitts that can fly off.

Fit: Snug enough so the mitt won’t slip off but not too tight to restrict hand mobility.

Materials: Durable leather or synthetic materials that withstand wear and tear. Avoid cheap fabrics.

Ventilation: Mesh panels, perforations and breathable materials to allow air flow and reduce sweat.

Aesthetics: Pick colors and designs you like. Look good while staying protected!

Pro baseball players opt for premium mitts with maximum padding and protection. For recreational players, mid-range mitts with ample padding usually suffice. Avoid flimsy dollar store mitts that offer little protection.

The best mitts for youth players have at least 1/4 inch padding and an adjustable wrist strap. Make sure children wear mitts on both hands for slides. For adult mitts, look for at least 1/2 inch padding with finger hole or open palm design.

Always replace mitts at first sign of wear. Worn out mitts with compacted padding won’t protect your hands. Well-made mitts can last multiple seasons if cared for properly.

How to Properly Wear and Use Sliding Mitts

Simply wearing sliding mitts isn’t enough. You need to use them correctly to benefit from their protection. Here are some key tips on using your mitts effectively:

  • Wear on both hands – Mitts will only protect the hand they are worn on. Never slide hands-first without mitts on both hands.
  • Check snugness – Make sure wrist straps are tight enough that the mitt won’t fly off when sliding. Test snugness with practice slides.
  • Proper orientation – The mitt padding should be oriented to contact the ground first when sliding hands-first. Never slide on the back of your hand.
  • Replace when worn – Once mitts become flattened and compressed, padding will no longer absorb impact. Replace them.
  • Pair with other pads – Use sliding mitts together with loose pants with pads and compression sleeves for added protection.
  • Take care of them – Hand wash and air dry mitts after practices and games to prolong their life. Dirty mitts wear out faster.
  • Break them in – Take a few practice slides on dirt before games to loosen up new mitts and ensure a snug fit.

Wearing sliding gloves for practices and intrasquad scrimmages is highly recommended, even when bases aren’t being stolen aggressively. The extra protection will allow players to practice sliding with confidence.

For pitchers, wearing a mitt on the glove hand is also advised to protect the wrist when diving to field ground balls. The mitt can easily slip on and off between innings.

Sliding Gear Upkeep & Safety Tips

To get the most value from your sliding gear and ensure it protects you over time:

  • Inspect regularly – Check for rips, tears, and loose stitching. Retire mitts once the padding compacts and flattens.
  • Hand wash and air dry – Machine washing and drying can damage mitts. Use gentle soap and hang to dry.
  • Avoid soaking – Heavily saturated mitts take longer to dry and lose padding quicker.
  • Keep clean – Dirt and abrasion erodes padding. Clean mitts regularly.
  • Secure loose pants – Prevent baggy pants from shifting on slides. Use belts, stirrups or velcro strips if needed.
  • Use protective sleeves – Compression sleeves safeguard your calves, knees and forearms when sliding.
  • Replace stolen base pads – Home plates with worn out padding won’t protect your feet on head-first slides.
  • Limit head-first slides – Unless stealing a base, opt for the safer feet-first or pop-up slide whenever possible.
  • Know when to slide – Don’t slide unnecessarily. It increases injury risk and slows you down.
  • Practice proper form – Good sliding technique prevents injuries. Always slide feet-first until you’ve mastered form.
  • Strengthen your core – Having strong abdominal muscles supports safe slides and quicker pop-ups.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of fluids before and after sliding to prevent cramps.

With the right sliding gear and proper technique, this important baseball skill can be executed safely and effectively. Sliding opens up new opportunities on the basepaths without adding injury risk.


  1. Should I slide feet or hands first most of the time?

For beginners and youth players, feet-first slides are safer and recommended. Once you build experience and good form, you can incorporate more head-first slides. Use head-first sparingly since it carries higher injury risk.

  1. Can I use sliding gloves in softball too?

Yes, the same sliding gloves and mitts work for both baseball and softball, though softball sliding gloves are made in smaller sizes. The protective padding is beneficial for either sport.

  1. How tight should sliding gloves fit?

Sliding gloves should fit snugly enough that they won’t slip off when sliding aggressively. But not overly tight that they restrict circulation or hand mobility. Test the fit with practice slides.

  1. Can I use batting gloves instead of sliding mitts?

Batting gloves may prevent abrasions but they lack protective padding for impact absorption. Sliding mitts are specially made for sliding and better prevent finger/hand injuries.

  1. How do I keep my sliding gloves from getting too dirty?

Hand wash sliding gloves gently after use to prevent dirt build up. Use mild soap and let them air dry. Avoid machine washing them. Replace heavily soiled gloves.

In Summary

Sliding is an integral baseball skill that requires mastery for competitive play. Learning proper sliding technique keeps you safe while enabling you to steal extra bases. Just like mastering the feet-first slide with high-quality sliding mitts protects your hands and wrists, learning how to get a great selection of free basketball picks ensures you make informed decisions on the court. With practice, the right gear, and proper form, sliding can be safe, effective and fun!

About the author

Lisa Alther

Lisa Alther is a farmer of words in the field of creativity. She is an experienced independent content writer with a demonstrated history of working in the writing and editing industry. She is a multi-niche content chef who loves cooking new things.

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