The break on the pitch is shorter than that of the curveball, and the release technique is 'between' those of a curveball and a fastball. The slider is similar to the cutter, a fastball pitch, but is more of a breaking ball than the cutter. The slider is also known as a yakker or a snapper.
Slider continuum Edit
Depending on velocity, a pitch can fall anywhere on the continuum from "fastball" to "slider":
- fastball » cut fastball » hard slider » slider » slurve
- cut fastball: 3–5 MPH slower than fastball
- hard slider: 5–7 MPH slower than fastball
- slider: 7–9 MPH slower than fastball
The most notable difference between a slider and curveball is that the curveball delivery includes a downward yank on the ball as it is released in addition to the lateral spin applied by the slider grip. The slider is released off the index finger, while the curveball is released off the middle finger. If the pitcher is snapping his wrist as he throws, and the movement is more downward than sideways, then he is probably throwing a curveball or slurve, and not a true "slider". When throwing a slider, the pitcher should create a "dot" on the baseball; this means that as the ball approaches home plate, the rotation of the ball is forming a dot. On a good slider, the "dot" will be down where it is not noticeable for a hitter to pick up. From the batter's perspective, this dot appears white, whereas the dot is red for a curve ball (created by the seam movement), allowing many skilled batters to immediately recognize the type of pitch. By having the dot on the bottom part of the ball, the pitcher will create good depth to the pitch. A good, hard slider has a slight break across the plate and a slight drop on its plane to the hitter.
It is important when throwing a slider, or any breaking pitch in baseball, not to come "around" the baseball. When the pitcher "comes around" the ball, the pitcher puts extra tension on his pitching arm to throw that pitch. As mentioned earlier the pitcher should create a dot on the ball when throwing a slider, but the dot is not created by sweeping the arm around and spinning the ball. The dot will be created with a regular arm motion, just like a fastball, then at the end the pitcher should turn the wrist so that the thumb faces downwards. It is important that the dot is on the bottom half of the ball or else the slider will have little depth to it. To make sure that the dot is on the bottom, the pitcher must ensure that the fingers stay on top of the ball at all times. Slider movement is a direct result of the fingertip pressure and grip. The pitcher may visualize throwing his fingers at the catcher in order to improve follow through and finish the pitching motion.