Why Do You Come Over the Top?
An over the top swing path is caused because you’re starting your downswing with your arms. In doing so, it causes your upper body to tilt to the left in the initial stages of the downswing. If your body initially tilts to the left in the downswing, the path of your club will swing left on the way down.
To better understand this, the next time you’re at the range try hitting a few shots while feeling your upper body (waist up) tilted to the left on the way down. Then, tilt your upper body to the right and hit a few more. When you tilt your body to the left, your shots will start left. When you tilt your body to the right, you’ll see that your shots will start out at the target, or to the right of your target.
How To Fix an Over the Top Swing
In the past, many people have tried to fix their over the top swing by:
1. Purposely swinging out to first base.
2. Letting their arms fall down first in the downswing.
3. Using a training device like and “Inside Approach” where it is placed just outside the ball.
4. Taking the club back on a severe inside path.
And so on …
The problem with these fixes is they’re band aids. Although they may change your swing path, they DO NOT get to the root of the problem and they’ll most likely cause you to swing severely inside out which is the opposite problem. If you end up swinging severely inside out, or to the right, you’ll be faced with pushes, push fades and duck hooks. Now don’t get me wrong, this inside out swing path would be much better for someone who is hitting the ball way left because of an over the top golf swing, but as I mentioned, hitting the ball way out to the right has its own set of problems.
Here’s The Problem
In a golf swing you have approx. 1/4 of a second from the top of the backswing to impact. In life, your body moves slower than your arms. So, at the very moment you are to start down, you have very little time to move your body before your arms.
To understand what should be happening with your lower body rotation just think of a pros swing. As a pro takes the club to the top of the backswing, they’ve rotated their hips approx. 45 degrees. At impact, their hips are open a minimum of 45 degrees. This means that in the approx. 1/4 of a second that it takes for the club to come down, they’ve turned their hips 90 degrees.
So ask yourself this … if you’re just thinking about whacking at that ball with your arms, how do you plan on having your hips rotated a minimum of 90 degrees by the time you get to impact like the pros do?
There are quite a few things here so please, take your time and understand each one, then apply the drills to your swing. Also, you must be patient. Some people may get this in a few swings and others may take 200 or 300 balls. Just keep doing it, until you have it mastered.
Here we go:
1. Understand that your over the top swing is caused because you’re using your arms to start the downswing instead of your body.
2. Quit trying to hit the ball 300 yards. The harder you hit, the more over the top you will swing.
3. Relate the weight swinging of the weight on a piece of string to your body and your club.
4. Using your body to hit the ball will feel totally different that hitting your arms (this will take time to get use to).
5. Lay a club on the ground PARALLEL to your target line when practicing so you have perfect alignment. This way you can see the exact path you are starting your shots out on.
For this drill, I want you to start by taking the club to the top of the backswing. Once you’re at the top … STOP. At this very moment, I want you to totally relax your arms. Then, I want you to think about how much you’ve turned your hips (with a 90 degree shoulder rotation you should have turned your hips 45 degrees).
Now I want you to understand what you’re going to be doing to start the downswing. You’re going to be thinking about turning your belt buckle back to the ball immediately to start down. Then, you’ll keep turning the hips all the way through to the follow through. Remember, you have approx. 1/4 of a second to get them turned 90 degrees. If you’re not thinking about moving them, you will not fix the problem.
Now that you understand that your focus is going to change from your hitting with your arms to turning your hips and your belt buckle back to the ball, try it a few times in practice swings.
Take it to the top and stop. Relax your arms and think about what you are going to be doing. You don’t want to come all the way down and through to impact at first. I just want you to come down to about waist high. In doing so, try feeling how your belt buckle is going to immediately point back to the ball to start the downswing.
After you get this new feeling, try it with an easy practice swing (half speed). The slower you swing, the more relaxed your arms will be. This is good because it will allow you to change the focus from hitting the ball with your arms to turning your belt buckle to start the downswing.
After you get the feeling in practice swings, hit some easy shots with the same feeling. Remember, the idea here is that turning your lower body first in the downswing will cause your swing plane to flatten. So, watch your shots. If you’re doing it right, they’ll fly straight or slightly to the right of the target, NOT to the left.
After you hit a few easy shots with this new thought in mind, gradually increase ONLY the rotation speed of your hips turning to make the ball fly father. DO NOT go back to hitting with you arms. Gradually, turn your lower body faster and faster. If you do, you’ll quickly see that your shots will start flying farther and farther plus they’ll be on line. And it’ll feel like you barely hit the ball at all.
Simply do your set up then lift the club off the ground to approx. knee high. Then, with the club elevated off the ground do practice swings. The reason I like this drill so much is that once you lift the club in the air there is no ball to hit. If there is no ball to hit, you’ll be able to feel your body making the club swing. The more you keep using your body to make the club swing, the less you use your arms.
NOTE: Most people who try this drill stop doing it after about 3 repetitions. If you want to learn to use your body in your golf swing this is the drill you have to do FOREVER!