While baseball is commonly known as a non-contact sport, the risk of collision is certainly not minimal. Some are due to contact with the ball, bat, or another player, but it is easy to forget that a base can cause injuries. Help young baseball players avoid sliding injuries with these tips from Dr. Daryl Osbahr.
As the Assistant Team Physician for the Washington Nationals, a member of the USA Baseball Medical & Safety Committee, and a member of the STOP Sports Injuries Outreach & Education Committee, I work with players, parents, coaches and athletic trainers to reinforce the importance of proper baseball sliding technique. Here are some helpful tips that you can apply in your own life or teach to your children to help avoid a serious injury:
- Always take time to stretch and warm up properly. This will help you avoid lower body ligament injuries while maintaining flexibility and strength.
- It is important that proper sliding technique is taught and practiced before using an actual base.
- Always practice with a sliding bag first. Once the player has learned the correct technique, gradually move to a breakaway base and then, if your league requires it, to a standard, anchored base.
- Players under the age of 10 should not be taught to slide.
- When coming into home plate, the baserunner should attempt to slide safely in order to avoid a collision with the catcher.
- The obstruction rule should always be taught and observed. It is dangerous to get in the way of the runner or block the base without possession of the ball because it could cause serious injury to both the baserunner and the fielder.
- If league rules allow it, use separate bases for the runner and the fielder to help prevent foot and ankle injuries.
- Always wear the appropriate footwear. Your cleats should have enough traction to help avoid slippage, but not so much that they can get caught in the turf or injure another player.
- Know what equipment your league (or your child’s league) is using, and be sure to have a thorough understanding of league rules.
In every situation, prevention is always the best treatment. Together, we can make sliding safer—but it takes an athlete’s entire influence circle to make a difference. The athlete, parents, coach, team personnel and doctors all need to be dedicated to preventing injuries together.