Greasing the Skids

By: Jill E. Wolforth


Earlier this spring, Coach Wolforth and I were traveling abroad and one of our stops included the Island of Madeira, Portugal.  We spent a portion of our time there in the town of Funchal.  Funchal happens to be the hometown of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, but it’s also known for a very unique attraction… their wicker basket toboggan sled rides, and we had the opportunity to experience one on our stop.


wicker baskets 1wicker baskets 2


These wicker baskets were originally created in the 1850s as a mode of transportation for the families living high up on the hill in Monte who wanted to travel down to Funchal.  The baskets are mounted on wooden runners and glide quickly down their steep, narrow roads.


It’s a neat tourist attraction but here’s why it was particularly interesting to me; in order for the wood to slide on the street, the runners must be slick. Once the grease wears off, the toboggan slows down and can’t continue smoothly, if at all.  About half way down our ride, our sled began to slow and our driving guides stopped, pulled out a bag with a large black clump, and ran both sides of the sled over the bag.  At that moment, I realized they were “greasing the skids.”


wicker baskets 3


I’d heard the phrase growing up and always thought of it in non-literal terms such as saying to someone, “Please grease the skids with your boss before I stop by to give him the proposal.” In general, I remember it being used in terms of helping things go smoother.  It was particularly neat to see a literal usage.


I knew I wanted to write about it and more importantly apply it to baseball training.  Every day, in some way, we need to be greasing our skids.  We need to make sure we’re reviewing and going back to solid fundamentals.  We need to pay attention to things that slow us down such as lack of sleep or poor nutrition. We have to constantly work to stay sharp both physically and mentally.


When we find that we’re not getting where we want or things aren’t moving as fast as we’d like, a little trouble shooting may suggest we need to spend some time “greasing the skids.”


**One way to help you grease the skids is to have the right equipment.  If you’re in need of top quality pitchers’ training equipment, you can access the same equipment we use at The Texas Baseball Ranch by going to

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