Baseball Rules and Regulations

Does sliding into first base make you reach base faster?


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2014-04-23 15:13:25
2014-04-23 15:13:25

Most novices and experts alike think the answer is no. Sliding into first base does not make you reach the base any faster. Doing this has to be one of the least intelligent moves in all of sports. For those who aren't aware, the rules of baseball require the runner to run from home to first and touch, but not remain on, first base. So the idea is to run as fast as you can for those 90 feet and not slow down until after your foot hits the base. Sliding is only required when you're trying to avoid a tag (at second, third or home) and when you need to remain touching the base. Sliding is not going to get you to first any faster despite what some say. As soon as you dive to start the slide you are actually already slowing down due to air resistance in addition to the fact that as soon as your body hits the ground your body is slowed down almost immediately. Its like throwing on the brakes. This is in comparison to continuing to run in which a runner will maintain their top speed all the way through the bag. Please people, this is really quite an easy thing to see if you just use your heads. Trust the science. It's never wrong.

There was recently a segment of show from Sports Science that discussed this and broke it down with scientific test and slow motion cameras. By diving into a base you initially get ahead of where you would be if running, however, the friction of sliding slows you down about 50% so in the last 6 feet before the bag you actually get to the base faster by running through the bag. I know there will be a lot of people argue this fact.. but science is science. Now if you time you dive perfectly to where you can touch 1st base at the peak of full extension in your dive without sliding on the ground, then yes, diving would be faster. But runners DO NOT "superman dive" into 1st base the slide head first.

The case for "maybe":

There are numerous flaws in the armchair science of people who argue that the answer is clearly "no." For example, air resistance is a negligible factor in the difference between sliding into first base vs. running through. A greater impact is the friction between the ground and the base runner. Assuming the diving player times his slide correctly and does not hit the ground before touching first base, diving actually leads to *less* overall friction than does running. Furthermore, people often forget that the lunge immediately prior to a dive can actually provide brief acceleration (punctuated, of course, by a quick stop upon hitting the ground!). Finally, people who argue that sliding into first base is slower than running through often argue that "if it was faster to dive, sprinters in track and field meets would dive across the finish line." This argument is actually quite ridiculous when you think about it. The injury that would be caused by diving on a running track could be devastating to a runner. Unless it was the last race of his/her life, it would be extremely unwise for a track runner to dive across the finish line. In contrast, the dirt surface on a baseball field and ballplayers' durable uniforms are designed to allow runners to slide into bases without injury. These critiques suggest that it is unclear whether sliding or diving into first base is faster or slower than running through it. Perhaps the best argument against having ballplayers slide into first base, then, is the increased likelihood of hand, finger, and shoulder injuries from impact with the base.


Related Questions

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No it doesn't make you go any faster but it increases your chance of getting on the base.

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The main reason is that the purpose of sliding is to get under a tag. All plays at first are force outs, so no tag is needed. Running through a base always gets you there faster than a sliding play, and the players always want to get to first as fast as possible. Sliding may also increase the chance of injury, and players want to avoid getting hurt as much as possible.

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Sliding is not required, but it is proven that it helps the batters get to the base faster.

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Yes. There is no MLB rule that prohibits sliding or diving head first into any base.

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In order to reach base without making contact, a batter could draw a walk, get hit by a pitch, be intentionally walked, or reach first on a passed ball after a strike out (i.e., batter swings and misses, and catcher drops the ball, allowing the batter to reach first base, if first base is free). Without collecting a hit, a batter can also reach first on a fielding error or a fielder's choice, which means that a fielder decided to attempt a defensive play at a base other than first base, allowing the batter to reach first base. You missed a Wild Pitch - wild pitches and passed balls are scored separately.

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