Golf Downswing Tip – How to Stop Coming Over the Top

How to stop coming over the top is probably the 2nd most popular question I receive. Because of this, I wanted to write a tip that will help you out (if you’re a better player and don’t come over the top, then you may want to keep reading anyway because there’s probably some valuable information here for you as well).


An over the top swing is also known as having an outside in swing path or swinging to the left. Whether they realize it or not, the vast majority of golfers out there have this type of swing path (some golfers may not realize it because they tend to aim their body way out to the right in order to counter-act the shots that start to the left).

You can tell if you’re someone who’s coming over the top by watching your shots. If you pull, pull hook or slice the ball then you have an over the top golf swing.

If you’re still not sure if you come over the top, then simply go to the range and lay a club on the ground PARALLEL left of your target. Then, hit balls from this alignment. If you see your shots starting to the left, you’re coming over the top.

Why Do You Come Over the Top?

This 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 prove it, 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. Conclusion? Your upper body tilt determines the direction of your shots.

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.

Understanding the Over the Top Swing

Throughout the years, I’ve been able to fix my students over the top move by simply having them stop hitting so hard with their arms and totally focus on turning their body first in the downswing. As I described earlier, it’s this hitting with the arms that causes the upper body to tilt left in the downswing. If the golfer can just get the lower body moving first, the upper body will not tilt left on the way down and the clubshaft will flatten instead of coming over the top.

Here’s the theory:

In your golf swing, your body is an axis. Your club is the mass. If mass is to move its fastest around an axis, it will do so at exactly 90 degrees to the axis, 100% of the time. The image I like people to think of is twirling a weight on a piece of string. If you pick up a weight and twirl it, it will move to 90 degrees to your hand each and every time if it’s swinging its fastest.

So, why does the weight swing at 90 degrees to your hand? It swings at 90 degrees because your hand that is twirling it is always one step ahead of the weight. In other words, the weight does not move first, your hand moves first.

If you relate this twirling of the weight on a string back to your own golf swing, you should now understand that you DO NOT move your club first to start the downswing. You move your body first. If you do, the shaft plane will start flattening on the way down and your body will tilt slightly to the right through impact.

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?

The Cure

There are quite a few things here so please, take your time and understand each one, then apply the drills I’ve listed to your swing. Also, you must be patient. Some people may get this in a few swings and others may take 300 balls. Just keep doing it, until your 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.

6. Quit trying band aids and quit using training aids.

Drill 1

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 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.

Again …

Take it to the top and stop. Relax your arms and think about what you are going to be doing. I don’t want you 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.

Drill 2 – (my favorite drill)

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 I give this drill to 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!


Hopefully, you now understand what it’s going to take to stop the over the top downswing. The next time you’re playing, and you start hitting the ball to the left, or you’re slicing the ball remember this, “your body rotation affects the direction of your shots.” All you have to do is get your body moving first (before your arms) on the way down and you will not come over the top. Just give it a try and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Until next time,

Paul Wilson
Creator – Swing Machine Golf

Golf Lessons and Schools Las Vegas

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