All golfers say they want to get better – but few are actually willing to do what it takes. The biggest hurdle in playing better golf is being willing to go outside of your comfort zone and use a swing that doesn't feel 'natural'. As stated, a swing without an over the top move is going to feel weird to a player who has been swinging over the top for years. If you are unwilling to make swings that feel uncomfortable for a while, you have no chance of ever improving. Only players who make the choice to test their limits and try new techniques will be able to progress in the right direction.

Over The Top Swing Tips Lesson Chart

If you struggle with an over the top move in your swing, you can rest assured that you aren't alone. This is one of the most common swing faults in the game, and countless players hit a slice because they are unable to solve it. Use the drills and instruction below to correct the error, and give yourself plenty of time on the practice range to make the necessary changes before taking your new slice-free swing back out onto the course.

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If you have landed on this article, you are probably looking for one thing in particular – relief from your dreaded slice. No matter what you do, it seems that you can’t get rid of the slice that has been plaguing your game for years. This is a common issue, of course, as millions of golfers have dealt with the slice at one point or another. And, where there is a slice, there is usually an over the top golf swing to go with it.

In this article, we are going to break down the topic of the over the top swing from a number of angles. We want to help you understand what it means to swing the club over the top, why it is a problem, and what you might be able to do to fix it. Is it going to be easy to get yourself on track? No – of course not. It’s never easy to fix a problem in your swing, and that is certainly true here. The slice is a stubborn issue to eliminate in your game, but it can be done. Your best bet is to be as patient as possible and pay close attention to your mechanics. With improved technique, the slice is likely to disappear in the end.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

— What is an Over the Top Swing?

Players who are struggling with an over the top move may already know what the issue is and may simply be having a hard time correcting it. However, in other cases, the player might not understand what is going on at all. To make sure that you are starting with a clear understanding of the over the top move, we are going to use this section of the article to clear up any confusion and paint an accurate picture of this swing mistake.

The points below highlight what it is that makes up an over the top swing.

Over the Top SwingGolf Lesson Chart

  • The over the top name refers to the transition. It is during the transition from backswing to downswing that you will see the over the top action that gives this swing error its name. When you get to the top of the swing, your hands (and the club) should drop slightly as they move into a good position to attack the ball. However, for a golfer with an over the top move, just the opposite occurs. Instead of letting the club drop to the inside, the hands push up away from the body and lift the club higher into the air. This is a problem because it puts the club to the outside of the proper swing path, and it also makes it harder to generate speed (more on these points later).
  • It usually starts with a narrow backswing. While the actual mistake happens up at the top of the swing, it’s usually the case that players set themselves up for an over the top swing right from the start. When this kind of swing goes in motion from address, the club usually moves well to the inside of the target line and stays in close to the body throughout the backswing. Instead of creating plenty of width that can be used later to build speed, players with an over the top swing keep the club narrow and use their hands too actively. This leads to an over the top move simply because there is nowhere else to go at the top. The club and arms are in tight to the body, so the club has to be pushed up and away just to make space for the downswing. Typically, players will have to make significant improvements to their takeaway technique before they are able to wipe out the over the top action once and for all.
  • Tempo is an issue. For many players, it’s easy to overlook the importance of tempo in the golf swing. Specifically, it’s important to remember that the tempo of your swing will impact how the club behaves and how successfully you are able to deliver the club face to the ball at impact. When it comes to an over the top move, those who rush the golf swing are at more risk to make this error. In other words, if you hurry your swing from start to finish, you are more likely to run into problems with an over the top swing at some point. This is because a hurried swing doesn’t provide enough time during the transition to let the club fall into the slot. When the player is in a hurry, it’s more likely that the club will be pushed away from the body, so the downswing can get started as quickly as possible. You don’t necessarily have to make a swing with a slow tempo to avoid the over the top error, but you do need to give yourself enough time in the transition for the club to find the right position. If you have ever noticed how the swings professional golfers make tend to look smooth and steady from start to finish, what you are noticing is the way they transition gradually from backswing to downswing. If you would like to take your swing to a higher level in the months and years ahead, improving your tempo is a great way to make it happen.

Once you know how to spot an over the top swing, you will probably start to see them all around you. Far from an uncommon mistake, this is an issue that plagues countless golfers, so taking a look around the driving range on a busy Saturday afternoon should reveal plenty of players battling this same problem. Moving forward, we are going to talk about why you’ll often end up with a slice when you swing over the top, and then we’ll start to look for solutions.

— Why Does This Error Lead to a Slice?

By this point, you should have a pretty clear picture of what an over the top swing is and what it looks like. But why does moving the club over the top in your golf swing lead to a slice when all is said and done? Some golfers struggle to connect the dots mentally, and as a result, they don’t quite understand why it’s important to eliminate the over the top action once and for all.

Over the Top SwingGolf Lesson Chart

First, let’s talk for a moment about what it is that causes the ball to slice. You are going to hit a slice when the angle of the face at impact is significantly open as compared to the swing path. So, for instance, if you swing straight down the line but have the face wide open to that line, your ball will curve dramatically from left to right. You could even hit a slice when swinging from inside out, if the face was open enough to make it happen (although that is not common).

When we are talking about an over the top swing, it’s almost always the case that the club is moving from outside in through the hitting area. So, even if the face is square to the target line, that outside in path is likely to mean that you hit at least a fade, if not a slice. And, as the face gets more and more open, the curve will become more dramatic and you’ll struggle to control the ball’s flight. It is the combination of an outside in swing path and a wide-open face that does in so many players when it comes to the slice.

If you are in the habit of swinging over the top, your hands are probably too active at the top of the swing and not active enough at the bottom. Basically, you’ve used up your hand action during the transition and you have no release left to help square up the face by the time you hit the ball. Instead, you’ll be dragging the club through the downswing with the face hanging open and not much speed. Getting rid of the over the top move in your swing can not only help you swing on a better path, but it can also allow you to use your hands more effectively.

Before wrapping up this section, we should point out that you won’t necessarily hit a slice every time you make an over the top swing. While your swing path will probably remain relatively consistent from shot to shot, the angle of the face at impact may change depending on the timing of the swing, hand action, etc. So, if you manage to shut down the face on a given swing, you could square it up with your swing path and wind up hitting a dead pull instead of a slice. Or, if you are lucky, you could leave the face just slightly open to the swing path, producing a gentle fade that may find its way toward the target. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever reach your goals on the course while swinging over the top, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that every single swing will result in a slice – that’s just not the case.

So, to review – when you make an over the top swing, you will be prone to hit a lot of slices, although not every shot is going to come out with that dramatic left to right curve. If you can get rid of this error, you should be able to alter your swing path in a way that makes it easier to hit straight, solid shots. It is sure to take plenty of time and effort to get rid of the over the top action, but your hard work will be rewarded when you can step up onto the tee and no longer worry about that dreaded slice popping up at the wrong time.

— Breaking the Habit

Finally, we have gotten to the point where we are ready to confront the over the top swing face to face. The list below includes several tips for you to consider as you get ready to work on your technique and hopefully move away from the over the top pattern. Of course, not all of these tips will wind up working for you, so go through them and pick out the ones that you feel apply most directly to your game.

Over the Top SwingGolf Lesson Chart

  • Add width to your takeaway. With very few exceptions, this is where most golfers should start when trying to eliminate an over the top move. It’s extremely common for the over the top move to be a result of a narrow, quick takeaway that uses the hands and wrists to turn the club in toward the body right from the start. If you can manage to add some width to the early portion of the swing – which is accomplished by taking the hands and wrists out of the action and using the shoulders to turn away from the target – you’ll be much more likely to avoid an over the top error. At first, this move is going to feel a bit awkward if you are used to making a narrow takeaway move to start your swing. That’s okay – be patient and understand that you’ll have to go through some struggles if you want to make any progress. Start out by hitting soft, small shots like pitches while using a wider takeaway. As your confidence grows, gradually work your way up to longer and longer swings. Even if you were to make no other intentional changes to your swing, you might get dramatically improved results simply by correcting your takeaway.
  • Make a better shoulder turn. A good shoulder turn is the enemy of an over the top swing. In other words, if you do a good job of turning your shoulders away from the target during the backswing, you won’t have much of a reason to move the club over the top during the transition. Most players who swing over the top don’t manage to get the kind of turn they need on the way back – instead, they use their arms to do most of the swinging, while their shoulders only turn a bit before coming to a stop. Remember, it will take longer to make a backswing with your shoulders than it will using your arms only, so you have to account for that extra time in your tempo. Give yourself the time necessary to make a good turn on the way back and you may be surprised to find just how powerful your swing will start to feel. Not only should you be able to deliver the club on a better path with a big turn, but you should also have more speed at your disposal to strike the ball with authority.
  • Start the downswing with your lower body. This just might be the biggest change of all that needs to be made, as it will feel quite different from what you are used to doing in your swing. If you are moving over the top currently, you probably don’t use your lower body much – if at all – during the transition. To get the club into a better spot for the start of your downswing, and to carry more speed through the hitting area, you’ll want to use your legs and hips to get things started from the top. Work on using hip rotation toward the target to start your downswing while the arms hang back and wait for their turn to swing through. Getting this sequencing right – hips go first with the arms (and the club) following later – is essential to make progress in your game. This is a move that you see across the board at the highest levels of the game, and you would be wise to follow the lead of those professionals. As always, it can take some time to learn how to manage this move and use it confidently, so maintain your patience and keep working on this during your practice sessions.

Breaking the habit of swinging the club over the top during the transition is one of the hardest things you can do in golf. Fortunately, it can also be one of the most rewarding things you do, if you are successful in the end. If you put in plenty of hard work and still can’t seem to make progress in this area, consider working with a teaching professional for one-on-one instruction. That step might be missing piece to help you make sense of what changes need to be made for you to go from where you are now to where you would like to be.

— The Mental Hurdle

It would be a mistake to overlook the importance of the mental game when trying to break a bad golf habit. Specifically, there is a big mental hurdle to clear as you try to get rid of your slice. The slice is something that can eat away at your confidence and leave you feeling helpless on the course. Those negative feelings and emotions are only going to get in your way as you try to improve your level of play – so they have got to go. Let’s look at a few quick tips on how you can get over the mental hurdle and approach this process in a good frame of mind.

Over the Top SwingGolf Lesson Chart

  • The past is the past. This is one of those things that is easy to say but hard to believe. If you are going to work toward getting rid of your over the top move once and for all, you have to believe that you can be a better golfer than the one who was slicing the ball hole after hole. Sure, those memories are strong in your mind, and it might be tough to picture yourself doing anything else, but that’s the task that you need to confront. You need to find a way to believe that you can do this, or you might as well not even start.
  • Take a break from the course. One of the best ways to get over the mental hurdle that you need to clear is simply to stop playing golf for a while. You need to practice, of course, but going out to play rounds of golf is only going to be detrimental to your mindset. You probably won’t play very well while you are working on such a dramatic swing change, and you might find yourself getting frustrating and falling back into old habits. You need to make a clean break from the golfer you used to be, and the easiest way to do that is to just stay off the links for a while. If you live in a seasonal climate, it’s smart to work on this swing change in the winter when you probably wouldn’t be playing much golf anyway. You can use indoor/covered practice facilities to work on your technique and look forward to getting back on course next season with a new and improved swing.
  • Bad shots happen. Golf is a hard game and players of all skill levels hit bad shots from time to time. Throughout this process, you are going to go through periods where you hit bad shots and can’t seem to get the results you desire. Be nice to yourself during those struggles and don’t allow the frustration to get the better of you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on the over the top golf swing. If you are currently frustrated with your struggles on this point, don’t give up hope – plenty of other golfers have been in your shoes only to find a solution and finally straighten out their ball flight. Nothing is going to improve by accident, however, so find some time to get out to the range and work on your swing technique. Good luck and have fun!