Tips to Correct Swing Plane in Golfers Over 50

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In this article we are going to address one of the most common swing faults in golfers over 50: the over the top golf swing. As a golfer over 50, you will need a combination of 1)golf flexibility so the body can make the correct move, 2)golf exercises to train the correct movement sequence, and 3)golf instruction drills to fix it on the course.

Over the Top
The over the top swing occurs when the golfer begins the downswing by moving their arms or upper body before the hips and lower body move.

When this occurs, the golfers swing path will kick out and come from outside the swing plane and cut across the ball coming back inside the swing plane. The end result of an over the top swing is either a slice or a dead pull (depending on wether or not you release your wrists through the ball).

With beginning golfers, coming over the top of the ball appears to be the bodies preferred sequence of movement…most golfers begin with this swing.

However, for golfers over 50, the cause of the problem can be both poor body control (poor natural sequencing) as well as poor flexibility. The older the golfer, the higher the probability that flexibility is the cause of pulls and slices.

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Flexibility Causing The Swing Fault
In order to swing a golf club on the correct swing plane, the lower body has to make the first move down on the downswing. However, if a golfer lacks torso flexibility, it becomes nearly impossible for the lower body to begin the downswing ahead of the upper body. You have to have the flexibility to move the lower body independent of, or without, moving the upper body (shoulders).

So the first thing that we will address here, is flexibility exercises focused on disassociating the upper body from the lower body.

Golf Flexibility

1. Cross Over Stretch
Torso Stretch for a full golf follow through swing
Setup: Start by lying on your right side.

Action: Bend your left leg up as shown and put your right hand on the knee to hold it down. With your left arm, reach in the opposite direction.

Parameters: Hold stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

Effect: Increases torso flexibility allowing the the upper body to move independently of the lower body.

2. Standing Rotational Stretch
Golf flexibility stretch
Setup: Hold a golf club with both hands at the opposite end of the club. Take a step forward with your left leg.

Action: Rotate your shoulders and the golf club around to the left.

Parameters: Hold stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

Effect: Increases upper torso rotation independent of hip turn. The hips are fixed in place by having one leg forward.

Train the Body to Disassociate-Sequencing Training

1. With a Partner
A great way to work on training the body to move correctly is to work on rotating the lower body with a partner/spouse holding your shoulders stable.

Here is how to do it:
Get into your golf stance without a golf club and fold your arms. Have your partner place hands on both shoulders and hold the upper body in place. From here, work on rotating your lower body back and forth without allowing your shoulders to move.  Move back and forth for 30 seconds.

The key to remember with this exercise is that you are NOT trying to rotate very far, just back and forth to train the upper body to disassociate with the lower body.

2. Transitional Move Training
We spend a lot of time in our DVD program working on training the body to make the correct transition move from the top of the backswing. What you need to know is that at the top of the backswing, the hips should begin to rotate before their is any downswing motion from the shoulders. You can start to train this at home:

Golf Transition Move

You can use a golf club for this if you like.

Setup: Begin in your address position.

Action: Take your normal backswing and stop at the top of the swing. From this position, SLIGHTLY! rotate your hips towards the target. The motion is very, very slight.

Parameters: Perform 8 repetitions.

3. Single Leg Stance with Rotation
Golf flexibility movement

Setup: Balance on one leg. If you have poor balance, hold onto a counter or kitchen sink.

Action: Slowly rotate your free leg around the leg you are balancing on.

Parameters: Perform 12 repetitions and then switch legs.

Training On the Golf CourseBecause the transition move is such a slight movement, it is difficult to focus on initiating the swing by rotating the hips first.  However, it can be done.

If you want to work on this while you hit balls, focus on sliding the left knee forward at the top of your backswing before you begin moving your arms down to the ball. Make sure you tee up the ball because this will be awkward and do not expect to hit the ball well. This is just a drill but it does help train the body to move correctly.

Once you are on the golf course playing, don’t think about it. Just play. If your body is trained correctly it will perform correctly. Practice this move when you practice, not when you play.

1. Step Training on Range
Another drill you can do no the range is the step drill.
Step Drill

Setup: Address the golf ball. Move your lead foot so that it is together with your trail foot as shown in the second picture.

Golf Action: Take your normal swing, but at the top of your backswing, take a step forwards with your lead leg as you begin your downswing.

Compensation for the Super Stiff Golfer

If you are unable to perform the transition move, rotate your hips without moving your upper body and shoulders, you can compensate with the left knee slide. The key is to begin the downswing with a left knee slide without allowing your shoulders to open.

Left knee slide

In summary, you need to focus on separating the lower body from the upper body to begin the downswing in order swing on plane and solve the over the top swing fault. Start with the stretches, progress to the body sequence training, and then practice on the range.

You can read more about the transition move by clicking on this previously written article with Keegan Bradley: 4 Keys to a Great Transition Move.

Thanks for reading!!

Dr. Ryan york, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf

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