Participatory: Learning how to throw a slider

by Ryan McCombs

Franklin Pierce pitcher Brenden Aldridge took time off of his training in order to teach me how to throw a slider like Red Sox ace Chris Sale.

The original idea was to have Brenden teach me how to throw a curveball because I see the curve as the most well-known of the breaking balls, but he is more comfortable throwing a slider so we adjusted.

We met in the Bubble and began with some light warm-up tosses as I tried to shake off five years of rust. I could hear my shoulder crack with every sharp movement, which was probably not a great sign. After five minutes, my arm was loose, and I was regaining my town rec-league form. I was ready to try and throw a slider.

Brenden walked me through the process of throwing one. First, I needed to place my middle finger on the laces of the ball, with my index finger right inside of it, and my thumb placed on the bottom of the ball bent inwards. Brenden told me I needed to put pressure on the ball with my middle finger and snap my wrist when I threw.

My first few attempts at the slider went as expected, with the first pitch flying way over Brenden’s head. After a couple of tries, I got the ball under control, but it still lacked the movement it was supposed to have, so Brenden recommended that I change my release point to a little higher up, giving the ball more time to move. To both of our surprise, I actually threw one that had movement on it. “That one broke!” Brenden yelled to me. As I walked out of the Bubble somewhat triumphantly, I could feel the toll that pitching took on my arm and I am reminded why I just write about sports now.

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