Golf Causes and Cures: Push Slice

    The push slice is a bad news/good news proposition. The bad news, of course, is that your ball starts right of target and curves farther right, putting it way off line. The good news is that pushing the ball means you’re not coming over the top, which can be a difficult problem to fix.

    A push slice happens when the clubhead is traveling directly down the target line or slightly inside-to-outside at impact, while the clubface is pointed right of this path. The rightward sidespin causes the curve.

    One more bit of encouraging news: With an inside-to-out clubhead path, you’re just a square clubface away from turning your slice into a draw.

    Cause: Reverse pivot

    Possibly the most common of all golf swing faults, the reverse pivot occurs when the golfer fails to transfer weight from the right to left side on the downswing. In other words, he hangs back on the right side, giving himself no chance to release the club by rolling over the arms through impact.

    Cure: Weight shift two-step drill

    Click the link above to see a video demonstration of this highly effective practice drill. Use it on the driving range, or at home without a ball, and you’ll cure that reverse pivot in no time.

    Cause: Getting “stuck” on the downswing

    If this is your issue, you’re in good company. Tiger Woods has famously suffered from the same malady over the years.

    Cure: Arms away from the body

    Getting “stuck” means your hands and arms are too far behind the body on the downswing. If they don’t catch up before impact, the club’s path and face are pointed right. If you’ve got especially fast hands, a la Woods, you’ll sometimes catch up too quickly and hit a big hook instead.

    Arranging the hips, shoulders and arms in sequence is tricky business. Even a slight mistake in timing and positioning can create havoc. To fix your habit of getting stuck, learn the drill demonstrated in this short video.

    Cause: Failure to release the club

    So you’ve done everything right up to the instant before impact. Then your right forearm and hand fail to roll over the left – called “releasing” the club – leaving the face open at impact.

    Cure: Split-grip drill

    Ideally, you’ll release the club as a natural result of proper lower and upper body rotation. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t quite happen. The link above will teach you an easy at-home drill for grooving a powerful, slice-killing release.

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    Correcting the Dreaded Push Slice Ball Flight

    Some ball flights are better than others in golf, but many of them can work just fine. For example, you might prefer to play a little fade when you are swinging the club well, while your buddy might prefer a little draw. Despite the different styles, they can both work well, and it comes down to a matter of personal preference. By and large, you should go with the ball flight that you are the most comfortable with, and that you can hit the most consistently.

    However, there are some exceptions to that philosophy – and the push slice is one of those exceptions. No matter what kind of golfer you are, or what kind of golfer you wish to become, the push slice is not a ball flight that you want to hit. Not only is the ball flight itself pretty much useless, but it also requires poor technique and bad mechanics to create that kind of shot in the first place. Any way you look at it, hitting a push slice is going to be a negative thing for your golf game.

    For golfers who are currently fighting with this dreaded ball flight, there is going to be some work ahead in order to get it straightened out. It can absolutely be done, but understand that there is some work that will need to be put in if you are going to get your ball flight to start to behave as you want it to. As with anything in golf, the more time and effort you put into fixing this problem, the better chance you will have at getting it solved.

    Before we get too far into the mechanics of why this shot occurs, and what we can do to fix it, it is important to identify exactly what a push slice is, and what it isn’t. For a right handed golfer, a golf push slice is a ball that starts to the right of your intended target, and then proceeds to slice even farther to the right. It is something of a double-edged sword because it already starts off-line and the slice only takes it further away from where you wanted the ball to go. A push or a slice on their own are frustrating enough – dealing with them both in the same shot is something that no golfer will enjoy.

    As you might suspect, since there are two parts to this bad ball flight – the push and the slice – there are often two underlying problems in the golf swing that create it. You will need to worry about both how to fix a push in golf, and how to fix a slice. When you combine those two elements and are able to correct your mistakes in the swing, then you will understand how to fix a push slice. It is a bit of a process, but it will be worth it in the end.

    As a note before getting into the instruction, all of the information below is based on a right handed golfer. Should you happen to swing the club left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions.

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    The Technical Details of the Push Slice

    One of the most frustrating elements of watching your ball be pushed out to the right and then slice even farther off line is that you might not really understand why this is happening in the first place. If you aren’t sure why you are struggling with this ball flight, you really stand no chance of getting it fixed. Let’s break down this shot into its two elements (the push and the slice) to see what is really going on.

  • The push. The starting line of your golf shots is determined largely by the position of the club face at impact. So, if you are experiencing a golf swing push, your club face is open to the target line at impact – which means that it is pointing out to the right. There isn’t much more to it than that. Knowing what causes a push in golf, all you would need to do is correct the position of your club face at impact and the ball would start on line with the target.
  • The slice. A slice is a result of a swing path through impact that is moving from outside to in, or from right to left as viewed from behind the golfer. This action of the club ‘cutting across’ the ball imparts a left to right spin on the ball, which quickly causes the ball to turn to the right when it gets up into the air. A golfer who has their club face in a good position at impact but struggles with the out-to-in swing path will suffer from a normal slice – where the ball starts on line but then slices off to the right.
  • Plenty of golfers struggle with one of these two issues in their swing. In fact, hitting a push is a common error even among experienced and talented players. Plenty of golfers want to know how to fix a push in golf, because it is a ball flight that is commonly seen across all skill levels.

    So too is the slice a rather common shot, although usually among players will less-experience who haven’t yet figured out how to solve it. Many golfers spend plenty of time fixing the slice when they are first starting out in the game, and some continue to battle with it for years and years.

    Fighting either the push or the slice is something that almost every golfer will have to do at some point. While the push slice is a little less common, it is still a ball flight that many golfers are familiar with – even if they only hit it once in a while. The good news is that fixing your swing technique to get rid of the push slice will also help either the push or the slice from returning later on their own. Good technique is good technique, and it will go a long way toward your success on the course if you can just fix some basic mechanics.

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    Fixing the Push

    To get started, we are first going to work on identifying – and fixing, the cause of your push. Why is the club face pointed out to the right of your target at impact? If you can find the ‘why’ in this equation, the fix should be pretty simple.

    As you swing the club down toward the ball from the top of your backswing, the club face is constantly rotating back toward a position that will be square to the target line. Ideally, the moment the club face reaches a square position will coincide with the moment when the club hits the ball, and a great shot will result. However, it isn’t that simple. Since the club can be swinging down at up to 100 miles per hour or faster, getting that timing just perfect can be a bit of a challenge.

    If you are having trouble getting the club face square at impact, you are having a rotational problem somewhere in your golf swing. The club starts out square at address, and as you rotate back it will open up due to the turning of your arms and shoulders. On the way down, that same rotation (but in reverse) should lead you to getting the club back square at impact. Unfortunately, many golfers aren’t able to successfully complete the forward rotation and the club stops turning back toward the target line – leading to the push.

    To simplify the above description – a push is the result when you don’t finish your forward rotation. If you are able to successfully rotate your body and the club back through the shot on the way down, you shouldn’t have any trouble at all getting the club face back to square. When you notice that isn’t happening properly for you in your swing, there are two likely places to look for the problem –

  • Your lower body. This is usually the culprit. A lack of proper lower body rotation in the downswing – starting immediately when the club changes directions at the top of the swing – is going to make it very difficult to get the club back to square. There are a number of reasons why lower body rotation is important in the golf swing, including for generating power, but its number one purpose is to help you get the club square and moving in line with the target. Sliding your lower body toward the target instead of turning it to the left is going to leave you with a push more often than not. Your body will stop rotating left properly because you have instead started to slide laterally, and the club won’t be pulled into the correct position. If you are constantly fighting some kind of push in your golf swing, start by looking at your lower body and be sure you are rotating instead of sliding.
  • Your hands. The other cause of a push is a little harder to pinpoint, but it can be just as frustrating to deal with. For most of the downswing, your body is doing the work of rotating towards the target while your arms and hands are just along for the ride. That changes as the club gets to impact. Right before the club arrives and hits the ball, your hands and arms should fire through the impact area to deliver as much power as possible to the back of the ball. A good release is the culmination of everything else you have done in your swing, and it will allow you to generate the power you are looking for. However, if you ‘hang on’ to the shot at the bottom of the swing and resist the release of your hands, a push is usually going to result. Most commonly, this will happen under pressure. When you start to feel nervous on the course, your hands don’t react like they normally do and you are left with a push.
  • The golf swing push that you are dealing with could be caused by either of the two problems above – and it is your job to figure out which one it is. If you have the opportunity, ask a friend to record a video of a few swings on the practice range so you can watch your technique back and try to identify if either of these mistakes is leading to the push that you are experiencing.

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    Fixing the Slice

    With the push half of the equation sorted out, we need to move on to the slice – which is likely to be the harder element to get fixed in your swing. If you are fighting a slice, there is going to be at least one or two elements within your swing that you will need to change if you are going to successfully straighten out the ball flight and stop your golf push slice one and for all.

    So what is it that causes a slice? As we discussed earlier, the slice is a result of your club coming across the ball at impact and putting a left to right spin on the shot that causes it to turn right in the air. But why is your club moving in that direction in the first place? There could be a number of reasons.

  • Inside takeaway. This is a tricky one because it happens so early in the swing that most golfers don’t think it could have anything to do with their slice. In fact, what happens during the takeaway can have a major impact on the shot that you hit, especially when it comes to a slice. The problem is this – when you take the club away from the ball on a line that is inside of the target line, the club gets too close to your body. Then, as you continue on in the backswing, the club will have no room to move because it is already in so close to you (and your arms are, as well). When you transition from the backswing to the downswing, the club is forced up and away from you only because that is the only place it has available to move. At this point, the club is outside of the target line, and you have no hope of saving the shot as you swing down. The damage was done during the takeaway, and there is really nothing that you can do about it after that.
  • Lazy legs. This might be the most common cause of all when it comes to the slice. In this version, the rest of your swing could be just perfect – until you transition into the downswing and your legs are stationary instead of rotating toward the target. As you have already learn, lower body rotation toward the target is an essential element of a good golf swing. If your legs are stuck in place and not turning, you again take away the space where the club was supposed to be swinging. Since your body is in the way, the club will again be pushed to the outside of the target line, and a slice will result.
  • Early release. The final cause of a slice on our list is the early release of the club head by your hands. While it is important to release the club powerfully into the back of the ball at impact, you can’t do so too early or a slice will be the result. That release has to be held back until everything else has moved through the shot properly. Only when both your lower and upper body have cleared through the hitting zone can you release the club and expect to see a straight shot.
  • The vast majority of golfers who slice the ball are going to fall into one of the three categories above (or more than one). As you are working on your swing and trying to figure out how to fix a push slice, take the time to review each of those three potential mistakes to see if you can find signs of any of them in your game. Again, video review is helpful in this case, so try to record a video of your swing that you can watch over and over again until you locate where the slice problem is coming from.

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    Putting it All Together

    We have now taken the time to look at the causes of a slice, and the causes of a push. You should now know what causes a push in golf, and you should have a good idea of how to fix your golf push slice. While this ball flight is aggravating and certainly damaging to your score, there is no reason that you can’t get rid of it with some hard work and practice time.

    Speaking of practice time, it is important to know how to practice the right way when you are working on a swing change like this one. The first thing you should do is set aside some time when you are not going to be playing any golf on the course so you can dedicate yourself to hitting range balls and correcting the swing. When you try to play rounds of golf in the midst of changing your swing, you will inevitably go back to what is comfortable and familiar. You need to give these swing adjustments time to become natural before you venture out onto the course and see how you are doing.

    Another important practice point is to not allow yourself to get frustrated by the results of your shots on the driving range. As you are working on making some changes to get rid of the push slice, you might find that you hit some shots that are even worse that you were hitting before. And that is okay. What is important is that you trust the process and continue to work on the changes that need to be made. There is likely to be some struggle along the way until your body and mind adjust to the new swing mechanics and you start to hit the ball more solidly a little bit at a time.

    How often should you practice when working on a swing change like this one? Ideally you could practice every day, but that just isn’t possible for most people. Make it a goal to practice twice a week – maybe once on the weekend and one day after work (or before). The important thing is that you keep up a consistent schedule of practice so that your body can learn the changes that need to be made. If you go long periods of time in between practice sessions it is going to be very difficult to make any actual progress. Make it a goal to practice twice a week and you should be happy with the progress you have made after just two or three weeks of work.

    It is also important to remember that you don’t have to completely change your game and go from hitting a push slice to a big draw on every shot. It is okay to hit a ball that flies from left to right – there are plenty of great professional players who use a fade as their standard shot. What you don’t want, however, is for that fade to turn into a slice. Or for it to be pushed off the target line before it starts to turn to the right. Make sure you are working on the fundamentals of your swing and that you get your mechanics in good working order – whatever ball flight happens to result from that hard work should be one that can get you around the course. Your swing doesn’t have to be picture perfect or be the copy of your favorite Tour player, it only needs to work. Put the advice above into practice on the driving range and you should be able to remove the push slice from your game.