Stop Swinging Over The Top

Stop Swinging Over The Top

Swinging over the top is one of the most common faults in golf, especially among amateur golfers. It affects everything from balance to swing plane to distance to accuracy. It’s a common term but not always well explained. While golfers may suffer from the issue and be eager to fix the problem, a lack of knowledge prevents them from doing so.

This article seeks to explain exactly what swinging over-the-top means and how it happens. It will also give suggestions on how to avoid it, drills golfers can work on and helpful training aids.

Cause Of An Over The Top Golf Swing

So, what exactly is causing you to come over the top? What is this strange movement, this fault, that plagues so many golfers? Swinging over the top, put simply, is when your arms push away from your body at the top of the backswing. As a result, the club also moves further away from a player’s body. The golf club stays above or outside the plane of your swing. The plane is just an imaginary line drawn from the clubhead through your shoulders when looking down the target line. This

There are a few reasons why such a movement happens. The first is the overuse of the upper body on the downswing. This could be due to trying to hit the ball harder and thinking or it might just be a bad habit made worse over time.

Another reason is an open club face at the top of the backswing. If the clubface is open, then an over-the-top move may happen naturally to square the clubface.

The final cause of an over-the-top swing is arm rotation. If the trailing arm rotates too much in the downswing, it will cause the club to become separated from the body, once again giving rise to the over-the-top movement.

What Happens When You Swing Over The Top

An over-the-top swing is something to be avoided and results in an out-to-in swing path. This means that the club has gone past the golf ball at the top of the swing and must now cut across the ball to make contact

The effects of this are numerous. Golfers will only strike a glancing blow through impact, imparting spin on the ball and results in a slice. As a solid strike has not been achieved and the ball will travel less. Add into this the spin on the ball and the distance reduces even further.

Naturally, if you slice the ball, it makes it more difficult to be accurate. This lack of accuracy will affect your game and make it harder to score.

Tips On How To Stop Coming Over The Top And Fix Your Swing

If a slice is the number one fault amongst amateur golfers, the over-the-top move is the vehicle that delivers it. So much has been written, videoed and talked about when it comes to this scourge on the game, yet the problem still persists. While the tips included here are all tried and tested ways of defeating this swing flaw, some may work better than others depending on the person. The only surefire way of knowing is by trying out each one with the benefit that you should stop slicing. The transition at the top of your swing is usually the key to fixing your over the top problem.

Video Yourself

Putting your golf swing on camera might seem daunting. After all, you probably don’t have the effortless grace of an Ernie Els or Fred Couples. But seeing your over-the-top swing is the first step in understanding and fixing it.

Put Something Next to the Ball

A brilliant way to change your swing path is by placing something just beside the ball. If you’re a right-hander, this marker would go to the right of the ball. The aim is to hit the ball without hitting the object. To do this successfully, you will have to get your club path more from the inside. If you do, you will hit the object every time. Use something soft so that you won’t damage your club. It could be a tee, an empty bottle or a towel.

Use a Towel

Since the move is caused by the separation of the arms from the body, a great way to stop this is by practicing with a towel under your armpits. Have it run from under one armpit, across the chest and under the other armpit. The aim is to make sure the towel doesn’t fall during the swing.

This will feel awkward and restrictive but is a great way to practice the feeling of keeping the arms connected with the body.

Use Your Hips

As said, the move is caused by an overactive upper body. Focus on using your hips and lower body to start the downswing instead of your upper body. Not only will this help fix the fault, but it will also give you more power. You are trying to store power in your backswing which you then release by uncoiling from the ground up. Trying to for the issue with your arms and shoulders is usually the main cause of the problem.

Right Elbow

Focusing on the right elbow (for right-handers) can be one way to cure an over-the-top swing. As a junior my coach wanted me to feel like I was pulling my right elbow into my right trouser pocket.

Get Professional Help

While it’s always great to try out new drills, the best way to fix any swing fault is by going for lessons with a professional teacher. They will be able to look at your swing and instantly pick out what the issue is. They can work on drills best suited to you personally.

Training Aids To Fix The Over The Top Move

Izzo Smooth Swing

The Izzo Smooth Swing is a fantastic tool to use as a variation on the towel drill. This bit of kit will ensure your arms stay together during the swing, promotes a one-piece takeaway and, best of all, keeps your elbows close to the body.


This is an expensive bit of kit but one that is sure to train your swing properly. To put it simply, the PlaneSWING is a weighted bar that slides along a circle mimicking your correct swing plane. Practicing this will help golfers feel the correct swing and pinpoint where they have been making errors in the past.

As said though, it doesn’t come cheap and prices start at $799.

Alignment Sticks

The trusty alignment sticks are a golfer’s best friend. Pros love them and they are adaptable and can be used for a variety of drills. If going for a lesson, the instructor will be able to give you tips on how to use them properly and they can provide incredible results.

There are plenty of low-cost alignment sticks available for sale. If you’re thinking about getting training aids, these should be your first port of call.

Matt Fryer with a drill to help stop the over the top move

Stop Swinging Over The Top: Summary

Swinging the club outside the plane is a terrible affliction for any golfer to have and is unfortunately all too common. It shortens distance, decreases accuracy and, worst of all, makes the game less enjoyable. Thankfully, there are remedies and antidotes readily available. There are plenty of drills and training aids out there to help as well as a wealth of information online. The best combination is to get lessons from a teaching pro and invest in some alignment sticks. This will help you hit the ball straighter, further and score better!

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