Why Proper Sliding Gear Matters for Youth Softball
As a parent of an aspiring young softball player, keeping your child safe should be a top priority. And when it comes to softball, sliding is an essential skill that can also be dangerous without the proper protective gear. Sliding shorts, sliders, and sliding pants are designed to shield a player’s legs and hips during those fearless dives into bases. While a scraped knee may seem like a rite of passage in youth sports, minimize those risks for your up-and-coming all-star with quality sliding apparel.
Sliding shorts come in a few main styles, typically made of a stretchy spandex blend with reinforced padding sewn into areas prone to making contact with the ground. Thicker pads are usually placed over the thigh region, tailbone, and hips to absorb the brunt of the impact during slides. This extra cushioning helps prevent bruises, friction burns, and more serious injuries like bone bruises or fractures from the repeated impact of slides.
Look for sliding shorts that use anti-microbial fabric treated to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. The athletic cut of sliding shorts combined with snug compression fit is designed for a full range of motion and unrestricted mobility in the field. For pre-teen players just learning proper sliding form, the padded protection can give them the confidence to slide without fear or hesitation.
Sliding sliders, alternately called leg guards, offer more comprehensive coverage than standard shorts. These pants extend all the way to the shin, protecting the knees and lower legs in addition to the thigh with interior pads. While full sliding pants provide the most complete armor during slides, some players feel they inhibit running speed compared to shorter sliding shorts.
Factors like your player’s size, age, position, and skill level can help determine the right fit. Measure your child’s inseam and waist size accurately for the correct sizing. Most youth sliding shorts follow standard S, M, L sizing, available in children’s sizes. Look at the product details for specific dimensions and recommended age ranges per size.
For pre-teen players under 12 years old, prioritize maximum protection during this crucial developmental phase. Focus on sliding pants or shorts with thicker foam padding over the tailbone and sides of the upper thigh. Avoid super tight fits that may restrict blood flow during active play. Loose shorts that shift can also leave areas vulnerable.
Teen players may prefer the lightweight feel and freedom of motion with thinner pads or compression shorts styles. Consult your young athlete on their comfort preferences while ensuring the gear still absorbs impact effectively. Allow some room to grow into a pair over a season of play by sizing up.
Popular brands for youth sliding shorts and pants include Franklin, Champion, Under Armour, Augusta, and Diamond. Well-known sporting goods manufacturers typically design their products to withstand the demands of youth athletics. Look for abrasion-resistant fabrics that won’t deteriorate from repeated use. Polyester and spandex blends are lightweight, quick-drying, and flexible as well as durable.
Sliding gear comes in many colors and patterns to allow players to show their personal style. While team uniform colors are common, many brands offer unique designs and color combinations kids love. Let your player pick their favorites from available options to get them excited about sporting the protective gear.
Caring for sliding shorts properly extends their usefulness and keeps them performing safely. Follow label instructions to wash and dry after each use. Turn them inside out and use cold water in gentle cycles. Heat from hot water or dryers can break down elasticity over time. Don’t use harsh detergents that may degrade water-resistant coatings.
Inspect for rips, tears or loose stitching regularly. Thoroughly wash dirt and debris from slides to avoid abrasion. Discard and replace sliding shorts with damaged or overly worn pads. A few key signs your child has outgrown their sliding gear is if pants constantly need adjusting or the protective padding shifts out of place during play.
While sliding shorts serve an important protective purpose, solid fundamentals are crucial for safe sliding. Coaches should demonstrate proper sliding form and give plenty of practice repetitions within safety guidelines. Young players learning to slide should do so feet first on soft surfaces to avoid injury. Developing muscle memory for correct sliding footwork will serve them well as they progress.
Just as batting helmets shield baseball players at the plate, sliding shorts and pants are essential softball gear for an outfielder competing for extra bases. Parents can protect their children from harm even during aggressive dives by investing in high-quality, well-fitting sliding apparel. With the right pads in place, kids gain the confidence to give 110% hustling around the diamond.
Finding the Best Sliding Shorts for Your Player’s Needs
When it comes to keeping your young softball player safe on the field, not all sliding shorts are created equal. With so many options out there, it can be tricky finding the right protective gear that properly suits their needs. Here’s a closer look at what to look for when picking the best sliding shorts for your all-star.
First and foremost, you want sliding shorts that provide ample padding in the key contact zones. Thicker foam or gel pads around the tailbone, hips, and upper thighs can make hard slides into bases less jarring. Look for shorts with pads that wrap around the sides too, so those areas don’t get scraped up from improper slides. Breathable yet tough fabrics that hold up over a long season are also key.
Consider the position your young athlete plays as well when selecting sliding shorts. As an infielder, they’ll likely be hitting the dirt more often compared to an outfielder. Maximize protection with sliding pants or shorts with more robust padding. For fleet-footed outfielders, lighter compression short styles allow maximum running speed.
Think about your player’s age and size too. Little ones just learning the game do better with maximum coverage for confidence and comfort sliding. Teens may prefer less bulky gear. Measure your child’s waist, hips and inseam for a tailored fit so the pads don’t shift during slides. Allow room to grow for at least a season’s worth of wear.
Trusted brands like Under Armour, Nike and Augusta specialize in protective youth sports gear. Look for abrasion-resistant fabric that stands up to dive after dive. Let your youngster pick their preferred colors and designs to get excited about sporting their new sliding shorts.
With the right pair offering a snug fit, breathable comfort and ample padding, your child can focus on perfecting their sliding skills versus worrying about injuries. Check those shorts over time for damaged stitching, tears or worn out pads. Proper sliding technique and protective gear work hand in hand to keep young players safe on the field.
Watch your star player confidently steal bases and slide home when you equip them with sliding shorts catered to their size, position and skill level. Seeing them develop a love for softball is rewarding enough without injuries derailing the fun. Investing in high-quality sliding shorts designed just for youth athletes will give you both peace of mind.
Key Features to Look for in Youth Softball Sliding Shorts
When selecting the right pair of sliding shorts for your aspiring youth softball athlete, there are a few key features to look for. The right design and protective elements can make all the difference in keeping your player safe and confident out on the field.
Padding – Probably the most crucial component in sliding shorts is strategic padding placed in high-impact zones. Look for shorts with thicker padding over the tailbone/hips, front of thighs, and side of thighs. Padding should be robust enough to absorb shock but not restrict motion.
Fabric – Durable, snag-resistant fabric stands up to constant slides in the dirt better than basic activewear. Blended fabrics like polyester and spandex allow stretch while retaining shape. Antimicrobial properties prevent odors even after grueling games.
Fit – Sliding shorts must maintain a secure fit through intense play. Measure your child’s waist, hips and inseam for the right size. Compression styles hug close to the body while allowing full mobility. Straps/drawstrings help get the proper fit.
Color/Style – Letting kids choose their preferred colors and designs fosters enthusiasm for wearing protective gear. Most brands offer an array of colors and patterns for personal expression.
Breathability – During hot games, breathable fabrics that wick moisture keep players cooler and drier. Ventilation zones can aid air flow while retaining pad protection.
Adjustability – Youth athletes grow rapidly, so adjustable features accommodate growth spurts. Expandable waistbands, multiple snaps and removable pads extend useful life.
Brand – Trusted sporting goods brands specializing in youth safety gear typically design the most durable sliding shorts.
Care – Hand wash and air dry sliding shorts after each use to maintain fabric integrity. Check for damaged stitching or padding.
With the right blend of protection, comfort and a flattering fit, sliding shorts equip young softball players to take on the field confidently. Keep an eye out for those key attributes when selecting gear they’ll wear play after play.
Padding is Crucial for Reducing Impact and Friction
When young softball players hit the dirt sliding into bases, padding is crucial for reducing impact and friction against their bodies. Proper protective padding in key zones can make the difference between a smooth, safe slide and increased injury risk.
Look for sliding shorts with thicker padding sections over the tailbone, hips, and upper thighs when selecting gear. These high-contact areas bear the brunt of the force during slides. Extra cushioning helps absorb shock that could otherwise bruise or strain muscles and joints.
In addition to padding thickness, the quality and durability of padding matters. Closed-cell foam pads maintain their shock-absorbing properties longer versus lower density foams that compress and degrade quicker. Some brands use gel padding for conforming cushioning that distributes pressure evenly.
Make sure padding sections fully wrap around the thighs and hips. Side and frontal thigh coverage protects against abrasions if young players haven’t mastered ideal sliding form. Snugly fitted pads that won’t shift out of place ensure padding stays where it’s needed most.
The smooth, seamless outer surface of high-quality pads allows players to slide faster with less friction. Low-quality pads with uneven surfaces tend to grab fabric, slowing slides and increasing chances of rashes. Sturdy stitching keeps padding secured in place even after numerous slides.
Replace sliding shorts at the first signs of deteriorating padding, like permanent compression creases or split outer lining. Damaged or worn out padding defeats the purpose of protecting young athletes. Prioritize quality foam or gel pads for longevity through seasons of play.
Sliding shorts with protective padding built to withstand high-velocity impacts give parents and coaches confidence in kids’ safety. Pay close attention to padding construction and coverage when selecting softball sliding gear so kids can perfect their slides safely.
Getting the Right Fit for Comfort and Protection
When buying sliding shorts for youth softball players, getting the right fit is crucial for both comfort and effective protection. Taking a few key measurements and understanding sizing can ensure you find well-fitting sliding apparel.
First, accurately measure your child’s waistline right around their navel. Record the waist size in inches. This gives you a starting point for sizing. Next, measure from crotch to the ankle for the inseam length. Compare these measurements against the size chart for that brand’s sliding shorts.
Consider your player’s age and height relative to sizing as well. Most brands align their sizing to average measurements for various youth age groups like small (6-8 years), medium (8-10 years), etc. Review the specific dimension ranges and recommended age for each size.
For the best fit and coverage, allow some room to grow rather than sizing down too small. Sliding shorts sized up help accommodate growth spurts during a season of play. Just ensure the padding still adequately covers target zones without shifting.
The ideal fit hugs close to the body without restrictive tightness. Snug compression allows full mobility while keeping padding firmly in place. Thigh and hip pads shouldn’t slide while running and stretching.
Adjustable features like expandable waistbands, snap closures, or adjustable drawstrings help tweak the fit. Removeable pads let you modify padding thickness as needed.
Take your player’s input on comfort into account as well. A fidgety, preoccupied player may play better in looser shorts versus compressive sliding pants.
With measurements matched to size charts and adjustability suited to your child’s preferences, sliding shorts can deliver reliable impact protection play after play.
Popular Brands Known for Quality Sliding Shorts
When it’s time to purchase sliding shorts for your aspiring softball player, you can’t go wrong with gear from leading sports brands known for their protective quality and durability. Here’s a look at some top manufacturers of youth sliding shorts on the market today.
Under Armour – This athleticwear juggernaut offers an array of sliding shorts for every age range. Their signature HeatGear® moisture-wicking fabric keeps young athletes cool and focused. Antimicrobial tech resists odors. Adjustable features accommodate growth.
Nike – Trusted for performance and innovation, Nike sliding shorts utilize flexible Dri-FIT fabric to maintain range of motion. Thick thigh padding absorbs impact while ventilation eyelets boost breathability. Wide sizing availability.
Augusta Sportswear – Specializing in baseball/softball gear for over 30 years, Augusta designs their sliding shorts with PolyBreathe moisture management. Side stripe accent colors for style. Budget-friendly pricing.
Franklin Sports – Known for protective baseball equipment, Franklin sliding shorts feature thick EVA foam padding and Pro Dry Poly fabrics. Expandable waistbands for customized fit. Used widely in Little League.
Champion – For over a century, Champion has outfitted athletes. Their Vapor sliding shorts use lightweight tricot with BioSentry® antimicrobial tech. Reinforced stitching prevents ripping from slides.
Diamond – Trusted name in baseball/softball gear, Diamond sliding shorts offer superior protection via ProTecFoamTM padding. Available in a range of vibrant colors for personal flair.
Rely on the expertise of these sporting goods leaders. Well-researched designs scaled for youth combined with innovative fabrics and technology deliver confident protection for young players striving to emulate the pros.
Differences Between Sliding Shorts, Sliders and Sliding Pants
When shopping for sliding gear to protect young softball players, you’ll encounter three main categories: sliding shorts, sliders, and sliding pants. Here’s a quick rundown of the key differences between these protective apparel options.
Sliding shorts resemble compression shorts in silhouette, hitting several inches above the knee. Thicker foam or gel pads are sewn into the tailbone, hip, and thigh areas most prone to impact during slides. The shorter length allows freer movement for running bases or fielding.
Sliding sliders extend protection farther down the legs to the shins or ankles. Some designs wrap around like chaps while others are full pants with interior padding. Maximum leg coverage prevents scrapes during slides but some find sliders restrictive when running.
Sliding pants offer the most complete protection, covering the hips down to the ankles in padded, breathable fabrics. Built-in hip, thigh, and knee pads shield the entire slide zone. While ideal for learning proper sliding technique, some players feel pants limit mobility.
Many brands now offer a slider/pant hybrid combining a short padded compression layer with a removable leg guard extension. This modular design allows converting between sliding shorts and full sliding pants.
Consider your child’s age, size, skill level and field position when choosing between these options. Sliding pants tend to work best for younger players still perfecting their sliding form. As kids get older, they may prefer the freedom of shorts.
Match the protective coverage to your young athlete’s needs. Ultimately the right fit and padding that inspires confidence is what matters most, regardless of style.
Protective Plates Help Shield Thighs and Hips
Quality sliding shorts and pants utilize protective padded plates to help shield a young athlete’s thighs, hips and tailbone during slides. Strategically placed pads are key to reducing impact in those vulnerable areas.
Look for shorts with exterior plastic or hardened foam plates covering the upper thighs and sides of the hip bones. These flat, low-profile guards deflect and distribute pressure when diving into bases. Vent holes in plates allow air circulation.
Larger rigid shields over the tailbone provide an extra layer of protection from abrasion on that bony prominence. Tailbone plates sit right above the foam hip/thigh padding for comprehensive coverage.
While pads cushion internally, exterior shield plates create a smooth sliding surface. Plates allow players to slip and slide without friction from exposed pad edges grabbing the ground. Less friction equals faster, more controlled slides.
Durable polycarbonate and hardened duro plastic are common shield plate materials able to hold up to repetitive contact with dirt and friction. Softer low-density plastics lose structural integrity quicker.
Make sure plates are amply sized to cover target areas without gaps during dynamic play. Snug compression fits prevent shifting. Some brands offer removable/adjustable plates to customize protection.
Young players just learning sliding skills benefit most from maximum shielding. Removable protective plates allow scaling back coverage as technique improves and confidence grows.
With exterior shield plates working in concert with interior padding, sliding plates provide robust protection so kids can focus on perfecting their slides worry-free.
Breathable Fabrics Keep Players Cool and Dry
When kids work up a sweat hustling around the base paths, breathable sliding short fabrics help keep them cool, dry and comfortable during play. Advanced textiles make playing in the heat more bearable.
Look for shorts made of moisture-wicking polyester or nylon blends. These synthetic fabrics actively pull sweat from the skin surface to the exterior of the garment. Increased airflow accelerates drying to prevent overheating.
Mesh panel insets offer enhanced ventilation. Strategic mesh zones placed along the side thighs and backs of knees allow hot air to escape. Targeted mesh doesn’t diminish sliding pad protection in high-impact areas.
Some brands infuse antimicrobial properties into fabrics to curb odor-causing bacteria growth. Reduced odors keep gear fresher between washings. Silver ion-infused polyester is a common anti-odor treatment.
Fresh circulation and quick-drying performance fabrics are crucial during tournaments and long weekends of summer ball games. The last thing you want is kids distracted by uncomfortable moisture buildup during crucial plays.
Lightweight, sweat-wicking sliding short materials also encourage young athletes to keep protective gear on rather than shedding it due to heat. Breathable comfort ensures pads stay situated right where they’re needed most.
Next time you’re searching for sliding shorts, prioritize airy, sweat-wicking fabrics. Proper ventilation gives active kids one less reason to ditch their protective gear when the heat climbs.
Style Options: Colors, Patterns and Designs Available
While protection is the priority when selecting sliding shorts for youth athletes, today’s styles also offer lots of options for showcasing your child’s personal flair.
Leading brands now produce their sliding shorts, pants and sliders in a wide range of colors to appeal to kids’ tastes. Bright, vibrant primary hues like royal blue, lime green and neon pink are popular choices.
Special edition designs celebrate major leagues and colleges. Shorts featuring favorite pro team logos and mascot prints let kids represent their allegiances on the field.
For something more unique, look for shorts with patterns like camo, tie-dye, plaid or swirls. Graphic comic book prints provide eye-catching style. Contrast side panel patterns accentuate design lines.
Let your young player pick their favorites from the options to get them excited about sporting their new protective gear. While kids shouldn’t choose style over safety, there are plenty of shorts offering both.
Many brands also now offer sliding shorts, pants and sliders designed specifically for girls with tailored fits and feminine accents. Ruffled leg hem gussets and pastel colors provide style without compromising coverage.
Matching protective sliding gear to kids’ interests allows them to play with confidence while showing off a bit of personality. Protective plates come in array of color choices too.
With the right pair they’re eager to wear time and time again, sliding shorts equip youth athletes to keep playing hard in safety and style.
Cleaning and Caring for Sliding Shorts Properly
Sliding shorts are an essential piece of equipment for youth softball players. These special pants allow players to slide safely into bases without scraping up their legs. But after countless slides in the dirt and grass, sliding shorts can get pretty dirty and worn out.
Cleaning sliding shorts properly after each use extends their lifespan so you get more bang for your buck. With some simple cleaning methods and care tips, you can keep those sliding shorts looking and performing like new.
Give Them a Quick Rinse
Before machine washing, give the sliding shorts a quick rinse to remove loose dirt particles. Turn them inside out and hold under running water, either outside with a hose or in a sink or tub inside. Give them a light scrub to dislodge any clumps of dirt. This pre-wash helps ensure the machine doesn’t get overloaded with dirt and debris.
Wash on a Gentle Cycle
Always wash sliding shorts on the gentle or delicate cycle setting. Aggressive washing can damage the fabric and protective panels meant to hold up during slides. Use cold water, as hot water can also degrade the materials over time. It helps to place them in a mesh laundry bag to protect the hook and loop closures from snagging on other items in the wash.
Use a Gentle Detergent
Harsh detergents can be too abrasive for the lightweight fabric of most sliding shorts. Opt for a gentle, dye-free detergent without strong chemicals, fragrances, or whitening agents. Liquid detergents often work better than powder on workout wear. Skip the fabric softener, as this can affect the slick outer panel’s ability to enable smooth slides.
Air Dry is Best
While you can put sliding shorts in the dryer on low heat, air drying is best to preserve their quality and performance. Lay them flat or hang them on a rack to dry fully before wearing again. This also helps prevent shrinkage in the waist or leg openings.
Spot Clean as Needed
For stains or heavily soiled spots between full washes, spot clean as needed. Mix a mild detergent with warm water and use a clean cloth to gently blot the affected area. Let it soak a few minutes before rinsing. Repeat if needed for stubborn spots. Allow to fully air dry before wearing again.
Use Stain Remover for Tough Stains
If you notice stains setting after the rinsed shorts have dried, break out a stain remover spray or stick. Check the care label and test on an inconspicuous area first, as some ingredients may damage fabric. Apply to the stain, let sit 5-10 minutes, then launder as usual.
Keep Dirt Out of Stitching
Dirt trapped in the stitching of logos or seams can abrade and damage threads over time. Use an old toothbrush and soapy water to gently scrub any areas with compacted dirt buildup. Rinse and air dry completely.
Since the nylon shells and inner cotton lining of sliding shorts absorb sweat, it’s a good idea to disinfect them occasionally. This helps eliminate odor-causing bacteria in the fabric. Mix up a solution of one part white vinegar to three parts water in a spray bottle. Mist the shorts, let sit 10 minutes, then rinse and air dry.
Keep Padding Fresh
The padded areas of sliding shorts take the brunt of the impact during slides. While machine washing helps clean surface dirt in the padding, the inner foam can still hold odors over time. Every few washes, hang the shorts outside in direct sunlight, which naturally kills bacteria in the padding.
Mend Small Holes
Inspect sliding shorts regularly for any small holes in the outer shell or inner lining, which can expand over time. Hand-stitch closed any tiny holes found using strong nylon thread matched to the color. This prevents bigger tears during future slides.
Patch Bigger Holes
For larger holes or tears, cut a patch in a matching fabric color and glue into place on the inside of the shorts. Allow glue to dry fully before wearing again. Iron-on patches applied to the inside can also repair bigger holes and stop further tearing.
If the waist drawstring gets frayed or breaks, replace it to make sure the shorts stay securely fastened. Unlace the old string and measure for a new one of equal length. Lace the new drawstring through the waistband casing and knot the ends to secure.
Watch Slide Zone Wear
The slide zone panels on the leg bottoms will show the most wear over time. Check for thinning or holes in these high-friction areas. If they become too threadbare, it’s time to retire the sliding shorts and replace with new ones.
Hand Wash Zippers
Use a small brush and mild detergent to scrub the zippers on sliding shorts after each use. This removes dirt and dust that can grind in the zipper teeth and lead to malfunctions. Rinse clean before washing the rest of the shorts.
Use Zipper Lubricant
To help keep zippers gliding smoothly, keep a zipper lubricant on hand. Apply a small amount to the zipper teeth every few washes using the included brush. This prevents corrosion and stuck zippers so you can zip and unzip easily.
Always fold sliding shorts properly between uses rather than stuffing them into a bag. Lay them flat and fold into thirds or roll neatly. This maintains the shape of the padding sections and prevents damage to closures and fabric.
Store in Breathable Bag
Keep sliding shorts in a mesh laundry bag or breathable storage bag between games and practices. This allows airflow to dry sweat and prevent moisture-loving bacteria from growing. Storing in plastic traps sweat and odors.
Protect from Direct Sun
As nylon fabric, sliding shorts can fade and degrade when exposed to too much direct sunlight. Keep them protected in a bag or shaded area instead of leaving them lying in the bright sun between innings or after games.
Remove Debris Promptly
Inspect the inside of the shorts after each use and remove any debris like gravel or dirt trapped against the skin after sliding. Leaving particles inside can lead to irritation and abrasion during future wear.
Make sure the elastic waistband and leg openings still have good stretch and rebound. Baggy, limp openings signal the elastic is shot. New elastic can be sewn in for a quick fix.
With the right care and cleaning methods, youth softball sliding shorts can handle dozens of slides season after season. Consistent maintenance keeps them comfy, odor-free, and ready to slide over and over again.
When to Replace Old or Damaged Sliding Shorts
Sliding shorts are vital gear for youth softball players. But after enduring countless slides, even the best sliding shorts eventually wear out. Knowing when it’s time to retire well-worn sliding pants can help young athletes continue playing safely and comfortably.
While proper care and maintenance extends their usable lifespan, sliding shorts won’t last forever. Keep an eye out for these signs it’s time to replace old or damaged sliding shorts.
Thin, Holey Fabric
Inspect the outer nylon shell and cotton lining closely. If the fabric looks thin, threadbare or full of holes, protection and performance are compromised. Tiny holes can expand into bigger tears during slides. Patching can temporarily fix small holes, but large shredded areas require replacement.
Worn Leg Bottoms
The leg bottom panels take the most abuse during slides. Check for excessive thinning or fraying in these high-friction zones. If the slide panels are almost translucent and falling apart, the shorts won’t hold up through future slides. New shorts are needed.
Make sure padding sections like the hip and thigh pads are securely attached. Detached or wobbly pads lose protective ability. If pads are separating at the seams no matter how many times you re-stitch, the shorts have reached retirement age.
Slide after slide squishes down padding over time. Pinch and press on the padded zones. If the foam feels thin, flat and almost non-existent, the shorts can’t provide adequate impact protection. Try replacing just the pads before buying new shorts.
Retired Jersey Number
Youth softball sliding shorts often have the player’s jersey number printed on the front or back. If the shorts’ number no longer matches your daughter’s current jersey, it’s likely time to retire the old sliding pants. Let them keep the outdated shorts for practice use only.
Compare the color of older sliding shorts to a new pair. Over many washes and long-term use, the original bold colors fade to dull, muted shades. Stained or bleached out sliding shorts give a more worn, ragged appearance signaling replacement time.
Baggy Leg Openings
The elastic leg bands keep sliding shorts in place during activity. If the leg openings get baggy and loose, the shorts may slide down and chafe. Saggy elastic indicates the shorts have stretched out. Try replacing just the leg elastic before buying new.
Droopy, Stretched Waistband
Similarly, a loose, drooping waistband compromises the shorts’ stability during athletic activity. If the waist elastic is shot, replace it or opt for an entirely new pair. A drawstring helps adjust baggy waists temporarily.
Sometimes old sliding shorts shrink up from repeated hot wash cycles and high heat drying. If the shorts now fit too snugly, with pinching and restricted movement, sizing up in a new pair can restore comfort.
Rips or Tears
Holes and tears anywhere on the shorts put players at risk for scrapes or cuts. While you can patch small holes, large rips or tears typically mean the end of the road. Toss them to avoid injuries from compromised protection.
If zippers won’t zip up smoothly or get stuck halfway, it’s frustrating and time-consuming. Jagged, broken zipper teeth also pose a scratch risk. Troublesome zippers usually mean it’s time for replacement.
Lost drawstrings on the waistband mean you have to continually hike up ill-fitting, sagging shorts. While you could replace the drawstring, old stretched out elastic may still make the shorts unwearable without frequent adjustments.
Unwashable Stains or Odors
Permanently stained or badly smelly sliding shorts detract from performance. If you’ve tried every removal trick with no success, or smells linger after deep cleaning, consider getting fresh new sliding pants.
Sometimes younger siblings inherit well-worn sliding shorts from older girls. While fine temporarily, be sure to replace oversized hand-me-downs with properly fitting shorts to avoid restricted movement.
Change in Position
If your player switches positions, consider new sliding shorts tailored to their new needs. For example, goalie pants offer more padding than standard shorts for fielders.
Graduating to Varsity
When moving up from junior varsity to varsity high school softball, celebrate by upgrading those youth league sliding shorts. Treat yourself to new varsity-level sliding pants.
New Season, New Shorts
For some families, the start of a new season means buying fresh gear, including sliding shorts. This ensures you start each season with quality protection.
While proper care extends their lifespan, all sliding shorts eventually require replacement. Evaluating their current condition regularly makes it easier to determine when the time is right for brand new sliding pants.
Teaching Proper Sliding Technique to Young Players
Mastering the art of sliding is a rite of passage for every youth softball player. With the right coaching, young athletes can learn safe and effective sliding skills to help their game.
Sliding looks easy when the pros do it, but it’s actually a technique that develops over time. With patience and consistent practice, young players can slide like champs.
Start With Safety Gear
Any sliding drills require wearing appropriate protective gear. This includes sliding shorts, batting helmets, and optional elbow/knee pads. Beginning too soon without adequate padding risks cuts, scrapes or bruises.
Demonstrate Correct Form
Set the example by demonstrating proper sliding mechanics yourself. Describe the steps as you go through in slow motion. Breaking the slide down into individual components helps players retain each part.
Explain Proper Foot-First Entry
Emphasize sliding foot-first rather than head-first, especially for younger players. Going in feet-first minimizes potential face and head injuries. Always keep the head up throughout the slide.
Start from a Crouched Position
New sliders should begin from a crouched, athletic stance rather than standing straight up. This allows for a smoother transition down into the slide.
Teach Leg Extension for Entry
Instruct players to extend one leg out fully in front to initiate sliding on that lead leg. Keeping the leg straight helps avoid ankle injuries compared to a folded leg entry.
Preach Flat Entry
Emphasize entering the slide flat on the tailbone/hip area rather than the side. Flat entries better distribute impact and reduce abrasions.
Keep Head and Chin Tucked
Remind players to keep their head down and chin tucked during the slide rather than popping up too soon. This protects the face and helmet stays securely on.
Practice Arm Positioning
For standard base slides, instruct keeping palms facing down, arms extended toward the base. This reduces abrasions compared to arms crossed over the chest.
Promote Leg Bending Once Down
After initially extending the lead leg, teach players to bend it underneath them once their bottom hits the ground. This allows better control when coming to a stop.
End in an Athletic Base Position
Finish slides on the bottom in a ready crouch position, prepared to pop back up. Emphasize not remaining flat on the stomach after sliding stops.
Break It Down Step-By-Step
Have players recite the steps out loud as they practice sliding slowly. Verbalizing each component helps commit the sequence to memory through repetition.
Use Targets for Aiming
Place cones or bases a short distance away to give beginners something to visually aim for. This helps focus the slide in the proper direction.
Start on Grass First
Before tackling dirt right away, have new sliders start on grass to reduce abrasion fears. Grass allows getting the body motions down first.
Take It Slow
Avoid pressuring players to slide at full speed too soon. Start off slow and increase sliding speed gradually as technique improves over time.
Provide Verbal Cues During Slides
Offer positive reinforcement and gentle corrections in real time as players slide. This allows adjusting body motions and form mid-slide.
Emphasize Keeping Eyes Open
Remind athletes to keep eyes open, focused forward throughout the slide. Closing eyes tight often leads to popping up too early.
Always Go Feet First into Bases
For standard base slides, drill going feet first rather than hands or head first. Stress that diving head first should only be done returning to original base.
Know When to Start the Slide
Work on gauging when to initiate the slide on approach to a base. Sliding too early or late results in over/undershooting.
Reinforce Proper Padding Use
Ensure players always wear sliding shorts and other protective gear when practicing slides to avoid injuries as technique improves.
Make Drills a Fun Competition
Incorporate slides into team relay races or other fun contests to get lots of repetition without boring athletes. Proper technique becomes second nature over time.
With an incremental teaching approach focused on safety, youth coaches can shape even novice players into sliding experts. Consistent, patient guidance builds muscle memory for smooth slides.
Safety Tips for Sliding in Youth Softball Games
Sliding into bases is an integral skill in softball, but it can also lead to injuries if not done safely. Teaching youth players smart sliding techniques ensures fun on the field instead of trips to the ER.
With the right preparation and protective gear, young athletes can slide with confidence while avoiding scrapes, cuts or sprains.
Wear Sliding Shorts
Always wear snug-fitting sliding shorts with pads over key contact points like hips, tailbone and thighs. Avoid shorts with frayed ends or thin fabric that won’t protect skin.
Use Other Protective Padding
Consider shin guards, knee pads and elbow pads for extra coverage on vulnerable protruding bones. Helmets secure long hair from getting caught or scraped.
Inspect Field Conditions
Scan bases and surrounding slide zones for holes, rocks, broken glass or other debris that could cut or poke. Notify coaches of any hazards before playing.
Begin practicing slides at slower speeds and work up gradually as form improves. Attempting too much speed too soon raises injury risk.
Keep Eyes and Chin Up
Resist the instinct to clench eyes shut or tuck chin down during slides. Keeping eyes open and head up prevents collisions and dropped helmets.
Slide on Meaty Parts
Initiate slides on the upper thighs or buttocks. Sliding on bony hips, knees or ankles leaves those areas more vulnerable to impact injuries.
Land Flat, Not Feet First
Abrupt stops sliding feet first leverages torque on ankles or knees. Flat slides on the backside better distribute impact forces.
Extend Lead Leg
Straightening the lead leg fully helps initiate a smooth, flat slide. Bent lead legs drive knees and ankles into the ground.
Keep Arms In
Tuck arms tightly at the sides during slides rather than reaching out. Outstretched hands risk finger bending or fractures.
Aim for Outside Edges
Where possible, slide into base edges rather than straight on. Hitting sides at angles deflects impact rather than an abrupt stop.
Avoid Headfirst Slides
Headfirst dives maximize face, head and hand abrasions. Exceptions include returning to original base. For standard slides, go feet first.
Maintain Padding Upkeep
Inspect sliding shorts for worn padding or fabric tears regularly. Replace damaged shorts that compromise protection immediately.
Hydrate Well Before Games
Dehydration and muscle cramps make slides harder to control. Drink plenty of fluids 1-2 hours before game time.
Warm Up Muscles Thoroughly
Complete dynamic stretches for core muscles, quads, hamstrings, hips and glutes pre-game. Warm, flexible muscles help execute smooth slides.
Keep Nails Trimmed
Long, sharp fingernails and toenails pose laceration threats to self and others during close plays and piles-ups.
Earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces may catch on gear or scratch skin upon sliding contact. Remove all accessories pre-game.
Break in Sliding Shorts
Brand new sliding shorts often feature slick fabric coating. Wear new shorts a few practices first to rough up that slippery coating for better traction.
Don’t Slide Headfirst into First
Diving toward first base increases collisions with fielders and jarring stops. Always go feet first through first base.
Slide Smaller at Younger Ages
Limit slide lengths to a foot or two for beginners. Young muscles can’t consistently control longer slides yet.
Sliding safety ultimately depends on coaches instilling proper technique reinforced by consistent protective gear use. Keeping youth players safe lets them slide boldly and develop skills that stick.
Giving Kids Confidence to Slide with the Right Gear
For many young softball players, sliding seems scary at first. The thought of intentionally throwing themselves on the ground understandably gives some hesitation. Having the proper protective gear can help build confidence in new sliders.
With padded sliding shorts and other key elements, you can outfit your athlete to slide without fear. The right gear gives peace of mind to play 100% while developing this vital softball skill.
Snug Sliding Shorts
Also called sliding pants, sliding shorts feature padding sewn into areas like the tailbone, hips, and thighs. A snug fit keeps the pads aligned properly when hitting the dirt. Loose shorts allow pads to shift on impact.
For extra tailbone and hip protection, wear a padded girdle underneath sliding shorts. Combined with sliding shorts, girdles provide supplemental padding against abrasions.
Breathable Quick-Dry Fabric
Quality sliding shorts use lightweight, breathable nylon/polyester fabric that also dries quickly after dusting up with dirt and clay. Avoid heavy cotton materials.
Sliding shorts must stay up during athletic activity. Look for a wide waistband that won’t slide down. Some come with adjustable drawstrings for custom fit.
Focus on sliding shorts made of abrasion-resistant fabrics strategically placed in high wear areas. This prevents premature rips and holes where players make contact with the ground.
Smooth Leg Hem
Quality sliding shorts feature reinforced hems on leg openings rather than raw cut edges. This reduces skin irritation and uneasy feelings from rough fabric edges.
Knee and Elbow Pads
Consider pairing sliding shorts with sleeves or pads for knees and elbows. These defend protruding joints against scrapes during slides and dives.
Always slide wearing a snug batting helmet, even when not batting. Helmets shield the head and face if unexpected contact with fielders occurs.
Metal spikes pose a puncture hazard to self and others during slides and pileups. Opt for rubber or molded cleats instead for safety.
Optional slider shields strap onto the calf to provide an extra abrasion buffer between the leg and ground. More padding equals more reassurance.
For athletes recovering from prior ankle injuries or sprains, sliding with the added support of braces provides stability and confidence.
Wearing long socks, even under sliding guards, supplies an extra cushioned barrier for the shins when hitting the dirt feet first.
Some helmets come with an adjustable chin strap. Use it to keep the helmet securely on the head throughout slides rather than tilting.
Skid Proof Gloves
Gloves with padded palms provide protection for outstretched hands touching down during slides. They reinforce proper hand position.
The Right Size Gear
A baggy sliding short slides out of place and exposes skin. Make sure all protective wear fits properly for ideal coverage during slides and dives.
No Exposed Skin
Eliminate any gaps between gear pieces that would allow bare skin exposure and potential abrasions when sliding on dirt and clay.
Rugged Outdoor Fabric
With sliding shorts designed for the demands of softball, kids can dive worry-free instead of fretting over fabric tears.
Loading up on the right protective equipment gives young athletes the confidence to develop their sliding skills quickly and safely.