The Walk Off. There might not be anything as dramatic or poetic as finishing the game with an epic shot into the hometown crowd. And here’s the best part: Hitting a walk off home run in the World Series isn’t as difficult as you think.
There was no pressure on the Cardinals’ David Freese as he stood at home plate – bat wagging and the crowd going crazy – in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 6 of World Series in St Louis. All he had to do was four things.
No. 1 – Tempo
Freese’s tempo was perfect. Good tempo is what helps you generate bat speed. When you feel pressure, you generally speed things up in an effort to do more.
Remember: Less is best
No. 2 – Timing
Freese was in a perfect position to track the pitch on time. Regardless of how sound your swing mechanics are you must be ready to hit on time if you want to be a hero.
Remember: Hands back, foot down, track the pitch
No. 3 – Adjust to the Pitch
In Freese’s case, Rangers’ reliever Mark Lowe threw a 3-2 change up. Remember, it is harder to hit a home run on a change up. As a youth player, my coaches would say, “The faster the ball comes in the further it goes out.” But hitting a home run doesn’t require a maximum effort swing when the pitcher is supplying the power.
Remember: Home run power is “produced” instead of “created” by maximum effort.
No. 4 – Load & Finish
If you study Freese’s walk off homer, you’ll see that he has a great load, approach, contact, extension and finish. Because he loaded on time, he was able to leverage his body and drive the ball.
I was most impressed with how well his upper and lower body worked together throughout the swing. That’s because his approach was initiated with his hands instead of his lower body. At contact, his body alignment remained strong, which allowed him to get maximum extension through the ball.
It was a perfect swing with a perfect result.
Remember: great load, approach, contact, extension and finish
The Walk Off. Are you up to the task in that same situation? Now that you know what it takes – you are.
C.J. Stewart has built a reputation as one of the leading professional hitting instructors in the country. He is a former professional baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization and has also served as an area scout for the Cincinnati Reds. As founder and CEO of Diamond Directors Player Development, CJ has more than 12 years of player development experience and has built an impressive list of clients including some of the top young prospects in baseball today. If your desire is to change your game for the better, C.J Stewart has a proven system of development and track record of success that can work for you.