The Over-the-Top swing characteristic is very common and occurs when the proper swing sequence is disrupted. As the backswing begins, the hips should move 1st pulling the ribs, thoracic spine, and finally the shoulders with them. This sequence holds true for the downswing as well. If the hands and shoulders move first and most during the downswing, the club moves outside of the intended swing plane from out-to-in often resulting in a slice or a pull. Nearly half of all golfers demonstrate the Over-the-Top swing characteristic.
Several different physical limitations can lead to swinging Over-the-Top including a lack of hip and thoracic mobility. Inability to fully rotate the hips makes it more difficult to initiate the downswing with the hips, throwing off the proper swing sequence. Add limited thorax rotation to that backswing and you have a scenario where disassociation of the hip and thorax is nearly impossible virtually guaranteeing an upper body dominated downswing.
Try these exercises to help improve hip and thoracic rotation and disassociation:
Standing Hip Internal/External Rotation:
(Requires belt or yoga strap)
- Stand next to door or something equally stable and set strap Just below hip level.
- With strap high on thigh, lean away from door until strap is taught.
- Pivot on your strapped thigh by slowly rotating your body and non-strapped thigh forward and hold for 5 seconds.
- Repeat pivoting on your strapped thigh while rotating your body and non-strapped thigh backwards. Hold for 5 seconds
- Perform each position 5-10 times
- Begin lying on your side with your top leg flexed across the body and resting on a roll or small ball.
- Reach your top hand around rib cage.
- Breathe in while rotating your thorax backwards. (being sure not to allow the knee to raise off of the ball or roll)
- Breathe out and use top hand to increase the stretch by pulling the ribs.
- Perform 5-10 repetitions on each side
Gaining this mobility is just half of the solution. Be sure to follow-up with one of the PGA Certified Golf Instructors at Hillcrest Golf Club for help in integrating this new mobility into your golf swing.