At one point or another, all base runners will have to slide into a base. Base runners slide to give themselves a greater chance of being called safe at a base, but the one question a lot of base runners wonder about is which leg they should tuck under when sliding. To answer this question, I wanted to share my own experience of knowing which leg do you slide with.
Players should slide with whichever leg feels most comfortable for them. However, some base runners prefer to slide with their back to the throw by extending their left leg when the throw is coming from the infield and extending their right leg when the throw is coming from the outfield.
Some players prefer to keep their backs towards the ball whenever they are sliding feet-first, but this sliding strategy can vary from player to player. In all of my years of playing baseball, I’ve been able to perform a feet-first slide with either leg tucked under so I’ll share my own experience on which scenarios players can choose to slide with their right foot or left foot.
Slide With The Leg That Feels the Most Comfortable
When wondering about which leg to slide with, the best answer is that players should slide with whichever leg feels the most comfortable.
Some players have more practice sliding feet-first with one leg so it makes more sense for them to just stick with that specific leg whenever they slide. This is because the better a player is at sliding, the better the chance they have of being called safe.
On the other hand, it’s generally not advised for base runners to experiment with sliding during a game. If they are used to sliding with their left leg tucked, but they decide in a game they want to try sliding with their right leg tucked, their slide may not be as effective.
Without first practicing sliding from the other side, players could take an awkward angle into the base or into the ground and injure themselves. It’s also possible that they come up short of the base and easily be called out because they are not used to sliding with that other leg.
Some Players Prefer To Slide With Their Back Towards the Ball
Base runners who are comfortable sliding with either leg have more options when it comes to sliding into a base. Sliding with either leg was something I never really thought about, but after hearing some teammates discuss which leg they slide with, I started paying more attention to how I slide.
As it turns out, I naturally slide with both legs depending on where the ball is thrown. I had never noticed it before, but I’m one of the players who, without thinking, prefers to slide with his back towards where the ball is thrown.
Let’s discuss how a player can effectively slide with their back towards the ball.
Slide With Left Leg Tucked When Throw is Coming From the Outfield
Imagine you’re up to bat and you hit a ball in the gap in the outfield. You round first base and you’re on your way to second base when you realize the play at second base will be close. You know you’re going to slide, but which leg do you slide with?
When a ball is being thrown in from the outfield, some base runners prefer to slide with their left leg tucked and their right leg extended because this type of slide naturally turns their back towards an outfielder while sliding into second and third base. While this strategy works well sliding feet-first into second or third base, the one exception to this rule is when sliding into home.
If you’re trying to keep your back to the ball when sliding feet-first into home, tuck your right leg and extend your left leg. This motion will ensure your back is to the incoming throw.
Slide With Right Leg Tucked When Throw is Coming From the Infield
Sometimes an entire play will occur without leaving the infield. Whenever a base runner needs to slide and the throw is coming from somewhere in the infield, runners can slide with their back to the ball by tucking their right leg and extending their left leg.
In most infield scenarios, tucking your right leg and extending your left leg will force you to slide with your back towards the throw.
Some common examples of plays where this could occur would be when a runner is stealing a base, if the defense is trying to turn a double play, or when a batter bunts the ball and the base runner needs to slide because of a close play.
Why Slide With Your Back Towards the Throw?
The main reason players would want to slide with their back towards the throw is because it’s always possible the defensive player misses the ball.
If a defensive player were to miss the throw, the base runner is in a perfect position to stop the throw with their body. So if a base runner is going to get hit by a throw, it’s better if they get hit while facing away from the throw.
In addition, base runners who are able to slide with their back to the throw and quickly get back up are able to easily see if a wild throw was made. Players who slide with their back facing the throw can look behind the base to see if a ball got by the defensive player. If the ball makes it by the defensive player, the base runner has the potential of advancing one more base because of that bad throw.
How Do You Know When to Slide?
One of the more challenging questions new base runners come across is knowing when to slide and when not to slide. In my experience, most players prefer to not slide into a base, which can lead to uncertainty when running the bases. So when should you slide into a base?
In general, base runners should slide into a base when there is a close play or a possibility of a close play. Base runners will know the play is going to be close because they can see the throw from the defense or because the base coach is telling them to slide.
Still interested in knowing when to slide in baseball? Read my quick guide on when to slide in baseball to learn more about how base runners know they should slide.