One of the most difficult pitches to hit in baseball is a slider, especially a slider on the outside corner of home plate. Being able to hit the slider away can virtually make or break a hitter’s career, on the grounds that second to the fastball the slider is the most commonly thrown pitch in baseball.
Chiefly, due to the angle that is created, right handed hitters are particularly susceptible to a right handed pitcher who throws sliders. Likewise, left handed hitters face tremendous difficulties when competing against a left handed pitcher who throws sliders.
Then there is the ‘death pitch’ also known as the back door slider, that can be thrown to a right handed hitter by a left handed pitcher and the same for a left handed hitter with a right handed pitcher.
Fortunately The Hitting Project has created THE SLIDER DRILL, enabling hitters of all types to work on the fundamentals of trying to hit a slider.
THE SLIDER DRILL is a spin off from the popular and effective front toss hitting drill except, in this case, the pitching screen is placed 3-5 feet to the right or left of center from home plate.
Normally with front toss the screen is about 6-10 feet directly in front of home plate.
With THE SLIDER DRILL we are going to move the screen to the right or left of center by about 3ft to increase the angle/trajectory of the incoming pitch.
For a right handed hitter the screen is placed 3ft to the right of where the screen would normally sit.
For a left handed hitter the screen is placed 3ft to the left of where the screen would normally sit.
The coach or parent must sit behind the screen and attempt to spot the ball on the outside edge of home plate.
The tosser can vary his speed and location, in fact we encourage the ball to be tossed outside of the plate so the hitter can recognize when he needs to take a pitch for a ball. This teaches good plate discipline.
The idea is to create an angle on the pitch to imitate the trajectory that is generated from a slider on the outside of the plate. During THE SLIDER DRILL the ball will cut across the outside edge of home plate, this forces the hitter to make contact with the baseball just as it reaches the front edge of the plate, the ideal spot to hit a tough slider.
If the hitter pulls the ball or pops the ball in the air then this indicates he is pulling off the baseball. In this case the hitter needs to reset and focus on hitting the next pitch to the opposite field. If the hitter tries to hit the ball too late then he will more than likely swing and miss, as the ball will angle directly away from home plate.
The responsibility of the hitter is to hit the baseball to the opposite field as this is the best way a hitter should learn to hit an outside slider.
The hitter must go over the key mechanics that allow him to hit the outside pitch, these include:
The hitter must not move onto any other hitting drill until he is able to consistently hit the outside pitch to the opposite field.
The Hitting Project recommends the hitter takes at least 5 rounds of 20 swings for THE SLIDER DRILL.
Once the hitter is consistently hitting 80% of the balls hard to the opposite field then this is a strong indication he will have the tools to be able to handle a live-game slider.