How to fix an “over-the-top” move
One of my favorites is the step drill
One of my favorites is the step drill – start with your feet together, take the club to the top of your backswing, step forward with your front foot making sure the club does not move until you shift your weight into the front foot. This drill is great because it initiates the downswing with the lower body leading the way vs. the upper body/over the top move.
My favorite drill for curing an over the top is a combination
My favorite drill for curing an over the top is a combination of placing an alignment stick in front of the ball at an exaggerated angle out to the right and placing a head cover just behind the ball so they do not hit it. It’s simple but people don’t want to hit the head cover.
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The Bigler Drill
The player should lay their driver on the ground as if it were an alignment rod, then place tees in the ground at each end of it. The stance must be at least that wide at their toes. Then hit drivers from this stance. Start off by hitting them very soft so as to adjust to the stance and get stretched out so as not to cause injury. At first it may be difficult to make contact, but before too long the player will be hitting very well and very straight!!
Make it or Break it
I call this drill the “Make it or Break it” Drill. Depending on the players confidence level, softer items, such as a pool noodle or tees in the ground can be used. Here I am using a range divider to ensure that my club returns to the ball on plane. Placing the visual aid just outside the ball, parallel to my target line, I am forced to drop the club back on plane otherwise I will strike the divider creating an unwanted feeling.
Glen Oak Golf Course, East Amherst, NY
Swinging from your knees
Probably the best drill I have for over the top swing is swinging from your knees. There is no possible way to swing over the top. I like to start the student out with the mid-length Orange Whip to get the feeling of swing from inside to out.
Set up against a wall with your backside barely touching...
“Over the Top” is the result of a backswing that gets too inside and horizontal (usually with a wide open clubface). This causes the shaft to become heavy and out of balance. A person then re-routes the club up and “over the top” seeking balance. Most of the time when this happens it becomes the tale of two extremes and doesn’t self-correct. The club swings across the ball most of time with an open clubface. The ball will typically start left of the intended target line due to the fact that the path of the club head is swinging left, but the ball curves right because of the open clubface.
Set up against a wall with your backside barely touching. As you swing back, keep the clubface square to the ball (will feel closed) and swing the club up the wall without hitting the wall. This will help in grain the proper backswing plane. Repeat this and you are well on your way to a good golf swing. Go hit some shots with this same feeling. The club will naturally begin to swing down on the correct plane on its own with a square face. This will lead to very solid shots.
Using a golf club shipping box works as a great teaching aid for players
I’ve found that using a golf club shipping box works as a great teaching aid for players who have issues coming over the top. As a drill, I will place the shipping box just a few inches away from the toe of the club – parallel to the intended target line. As the player swings, they receive instant feedback on the path of the club. If they swing over the top, the club will approach impact steep and from the outside, impacting the box before the ball. As the player continues to work this drill with the feedback, they learn to adapt and reroute the club intrinsically through trial and error.
I use several drills
I use several drills for curing an over the top move.
- Hit balls with your feet close together. Place your right foot two feet behind the left. Try and hit shots by not lifting your right heel.
- Stick an alignment rod in the ground parallel to your shaft angle at address and hit balls underneath the rod.
- The Tour Striker Smart Ball is my most favorite and it helps to eliminate an over the top move by keeping your forearms together throughout the swing.
Take the club outside the line on the backswing
My best technique is to make the student take the club outside the line on the backswing which forces him to reroute the club on the inside path on the down swing.
I use a pool noodle and put a piece of pvc pipe in one of the ends.
I’ve done something that’s very simple and cheap that I learned from my old boss Craig Welty. I use a pool noodle and put a piece of pvc pipe in one of the ends. I stand down the line behind the student just inside of the golf ball to the target and have them swing under it without touching while they are hitting shots. This helps them to feel what they should feel instead of me just showing or telling from video analysis etc. This gives them immediate feedback when they go to an old habit such as, over the top, without hurting them, yourself or the golf club. Sorry for the crude description, but it’s a lot easier to show!
It is an easy fix to just have them complete their hip and shoulder turn
1. Some golfers come over the top on the downswing because they did not complete the shoulder and hip turn on the backswing. It is an easy fix to just have them complete their hip and shoulder turn to solve this problem.
2. The number one reason most golfers come over the top on the downswing is because they turn their shoulders before they swing their arms down. Simple solution; swing your arms down as your hips slide slightly towards your forward foot to start the downswing before you turn the shoulders.
Note: The reason golfers make the mistake of turning their shoulders first on the downswing is because the shoulders “feel” like the major power source because of the tension built by the core muscles on the backswing.
Couple drills for over the top move.
I like to have my students put a club or alignment stick in front of their feet at address
Most over the top moves start from taking the club back too fast and too much to the inside. I like to have my students put a club or alignment stick in front of their feet at address and when taking the club away keep their hands along that line as long as possible. This allows them to have the club drop back to the inside at the top of the swing.
Put a 2x 4 board down parallel to the target line
Put a 2x 4 board down parallel to the target line about 3-4 inches away from the ball. The student will get a feel for an inside to square swing very quickly or he will be coming in contact with the board on the downswing with an over the top move.
Draw a line inside to out...
First thing any golfer with this problem has to realize … grip, set-up and club fitting is correct. Draw a line inside to out… swing club to right field and eye alignment is going right.. closed stance and forget ball and target during swing.
A few that have worked over time:
1) Stop at the top drill. Get to the top of the back swing and have the student hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Then initiate the forward swing. This gives great feedback on what they are doing and then we can correct and give them the proper sequence. 2) Obstacles. Basically putting road blocks in place to help create a better swing path. 3) Feel as though your trail elbow is under your lead elbow approaching impact. This is a good one for players that have a decent lower body movement and the issue is more upper body oriented.
Take an empty water bottle and put it about 6 inches ahead of the ball and just to the left of the ball (for a right handed golfer)
The drill that I like to help fix over the top is to simply take an empty water bottle and put it about 6 inches ahead of the ball and just to the left of the ball (for a right handed golfer). Make some practice swings before you place the ball down. Avoid hitting the water bottle. This will help give a player the feeling of coming from the inside and hopefully stop slicing the ball.
The Box Drill
My favorite drill is the “Box Drill” get a shoe box or a box they ship drivers in, lay it down about 1/2 inch to the toe of the club and ball. Make swings trying to come from the inside. Try your best not to touch the box. This will insure you are on the inside path.
A drill that I like to utilize for “over the top” is the Step Drill. The step drill gives the player the feeling of transferring weight forward before the shoulders can kick the arms out and over. It helps give the player the feel of correct sequence of motion.
Touch the Alignment Rod
A mirror on your trail side
The reason the body gets the club moving in an outside-in motion is because the golfer isn’t getting enough hip and shoulder turn. When a golfer loses depth, the lack of inward hand movement from beginning to top of the swing, they’re starting from a position that can cause a slice. Unless, the golfer reroutes the club like, Matthew Wolff & Jim Furyk, it would be difficult to get the club moving on an inside-out path. The best drill is one where you have a mirror on your trail side and watch the hands go through your trail bicep on the way back and the way down. One other position you should check would be when the club is parallel to the ground, make sure the club head on slightly inside your hands. This will insure an increase shoulder/hip turn.more neutral/positive club path and increase shoulder/hip turn.
Club Champion, Pittsburgh, PA
An alignment stick
Place an alignment stick in the ground three or four feet down the target line, one or two inches inside the target line, and angled between 45-60° (depending on the club being used). Put a pool noodle over the stick if possible, and swing through the ball so that the club head, shaft, and hands swing OVER the stick/noodle, not into or under it.
A couple of remedies:
Over the Top is a result of starting the swing aggressively from the upper body. Strong trailing arm muscling down to the ball. The lower body is sluggish and out of sync. Of course there are other faults that cause over the top… A couple of remedies: 1 – create a gate to swing through. Maybe two head covers, two balls… For a right handed player, place one head cover slightly forward and inside of the ball and the 2nd head cover slightly back and outside the ball. This will create an inside to out visual for the club head to swing through. More aggressively, place two impact bags in the same positions. 2 – Stand bag drill… place a stand bag with the base of the bag behind the ball on the target line. The bag will be at the same angle as the club at address. The player should see this in his peripheral vision. Take practice swings… backswing over the bag, downswing under the bag. Hit some balls with 1/2 swings and work towards the full swing.
Grip the club "Stronger"
I have found that the root cause of an over-the-top downswing is often an open club face. If a golfer can’t get the face square at impact, they react by swinging the club over-the-top to try and hit the ball straight. Moving the grip to a “stronger”, or more hook-like position, will square the face and allow the golfer to swing the club on a more inside-to-out path as it approaches the ball.
Concept construction would be the first step I would take. Self awareness is paramount to results . I would probably have them throw some golf clubs . Help them appreciate that the playing field is not the ball but out in front of them . Managing their energy more out front ! Many people get stuck on the ball and misuse their effort stalling the rotational and linear aspects of the swing.
An alignment rod
Using an alignment rod we place the rod about 3 feet behind the golfer on the same target line matching the angle of the shaft at address. Then we swing above the stick on the backswing and below the stick on the downswing
Hold the golf club away from you, and then take it back.
A drill you can do is once you are at address, hold the golf club away from you, and then take it back. You should then feel the proper position on how steep you should take the club back. An over the top move is primarily caused by taking the club back too flat, then trying to compensate and get back on plane by coming across the body. For those that do take it back too flat, this should almost feel like you are about to chop the golf ball, that means you are making the proper movements. Once you feel that proper position from doing the first drill a couple of times, then from the top, feel like the club handle is a large rope. Go ahead and just pull that rope downward. What it gets you to do is start moving the hands down instead of across the body, shallowing out the plane. I hope this helps! For more tips feel free to follow my instagram @brandoncaiolagolf.
My “Go To” drill to introduce a student to the correct Downswing routing of the club is the Under-Under Drill. See Video Here. Most of the over-the-top swingers have a misconception about the shape of the golf swing and will adapt fairly quickly to the new Downswing path. Occasionally, a student with a deeply ingrained swing habit will be unable to swing under the foam tube and will whack it every time. In those cases we have to change Top of the Backswing positioning to give them the best change to swing under the foam tube.
Jim Peters Golf, Cincinnati, OH
Staggered Stance Drill
I recommend the staggered stance drill for people that struggle with swinging too far outside-in.(This problem causes inconsistency in contact and leads to a loss of distance.) So by doing the staggered stance drill and dropping the trail foot back you are closing the shoulders more to the target which helps get the visual of the new swing path which is inside-out. This will help give you more consistency and distance by creating more depth in the backswing and allowing you to swing more in to out.
Feel that dropping or dead fall of the hands straight down vs the cast move
For those students that fight the over the top move, I like them to feel that dropping or dead fall of the hands straight down vs the cast move. I will have a student stand with his or her back to a wall about 3 or 4 feet away, get in golf set up position, take club to top of swing and have the golf club head touch the wall. I will tell student to start the downswing but must keep club head against wall. This will produce a dropping feel making the student learn to rotate through impact, keep club head behind hands creating lag, and start to attack ball from the inside position.
I will record this drill for them so they can practice at home. After about 5 minutes I will then have the student hit a shot reproducing that dropping feel. I use TrackMan and 2 cameras down the line and face on to record the swing, I will pull up the first swing and then pull up the swing after the drill and do a comparison. The student sees immediate change and how to continue to improve.