How to Fix the Most Common Golf Swing Errors Slicing, Hooking, Pushing

golf swing errors

For all golfers, from beginners to seasoned veterans, swing errors lead to frustration and extra strokes. A hooked drive into the woods or a sliced approach shot in the water can ruin an otherwise solid round. Even smaller faults like pushing or pulling iron shots will prevent you from hitting crisp, accurate shots consistently.

Learning to diagnose and correct common swing errors is crucial for lowering scores. With proper adjustments to your grip, setup, backswing, downswing, and follow-through motions, you can get rid of those costly mistakes for good. This guide will illustrate the most frequent golf swing errors, explain their causes, and provide step-by-step instructions to fix them.

Diagnosing Your Golf Swing Errors

The first key is analyzing your swing to identify which specific errors you tend to make. Here is a checklist of the most common golf swing mistakes recreational players encounter:

  • Slice – Shot curves dramatically right to left for right-handed players
  • Hook – Shot curves left to right for righties
  • Push – Shot goes right of the target line
  • Pull – Shot goes left of the target line
  • Top – Club hits the top half of the ball, sending it dribbling along the ground
  • Fat – Club hits the ground well behind the ball, taking a divot
  • Thin – Club hits too high on the ball, sending it low and long
  • Swaying – Body slides laterally in the backswing
  • Reverse Pivot – Weight shifts onto front foot during backswing
  • Casting – Wrists release too early in downswing
  • Hitting from the Top – Downswing begins with upper body

Once you have identified your typical misses, compare your swing on video to the diagnostic photos below to confirm which faults you exhibit:

If you are still unsure of your specific swing errors, consider taking a lesson with a PGA teaching professional. An experienced instructor can quickly diagnose your faults by watching your swing motion. You can then work together to correct the issues through proper adjustments, drills, and training aids.

Grip & Setup Errors

Two fundamental prerequisites for solid ball-striking are a proper grip and effective stance/posture at address. Faults here make it nearly impossible to make a sound backswing and downswing.

Common grip mistakes include:

  • Weak grip – Hands rotated too far counterclockwise (for righties)
  • Strong grip – Hands rotated too far clockwise
  • Improper palm pressure – Grip resting too much in fingers or heel of palm

Grip issues lead to pushes, pulls, slices, and hooks. Ensure your hands are neutral, with palms facing each other and the club diagonally across your fingers.

As for setup errors, watch for:

  • Stance too narrow – Causes loss of balance, swaying
  • Stance too wide – Makes hip rotation difficult
  • Ball position too far forward/back – Inconsistent solid contact
  • Bent posture – Limits turn, increases tension

Set your stance at shoulder-width with knees slightly flexed and posture upright but relaxed. Position the ball just inside your lead heel for irons, toward your front foot with woods.

Backswing Errors

An off-plane takeaway or improper backswing motion will make it very hard to get back on track at impact.

Common backswing mistakes:

  • Outside loop – Club swings too far outside target line
  • Inside swing – Club pulled too far across body
  • Overswing – Club swings past parallel back from target
  • Casting – Wrists break out too early

To shallow your swing plane coming back, make half-swings staying wide of the ball target line. Feel the clubhead move straight back on an extension of your toe line.

Avoid overswinging by making 3/4-length backswings at moderate tempo. Keep your front arm connected to your chest and don’t allow the club to pass parallel.

Downswing & Impact Errors

Now we’ll dive into correcting specific ball-flight misses:


The dreaded slice curves the ball dramatically right to left (for righties) due to the clubface being open relative to the swing path at impact.

Cause: Grip, release, and path direction errors

Fix: Strengthen grip, square clubface earlier, swing more left

  • Turn both hands clockwise on the grip to close the clubface
  • Practice bowing the wrist to square the face sooner
  • Make half-swings feeling like you swing left of the target


Hooking the ball left to right (righties) results from a closed clubface. This is often caused by an overly strong grip and holding off releasing the wrists.

Cause: Strong grip, holding off clubface release

Fix: Neutralize grip, release wrists earlier/faster

  • Rotate both hands counterclockwise to neutralize your grip
  • Make slower swings releasing wrists fully through impact
  • Bow wrists quickly on downswing to close clubface


Pushed shots fly straight but off-target to the right due to an open clubface at impact.

Cause: Clubface open to swing path, often from outside swing plane

Fix: Square clubface, shallow backswing, delay wrist release

  • Focus on bowing left wrist through impact to close face
  • Make swinging inside-out swing path a priority
  • Check for outside takeaway forcing you over the top


Pulls go straight but miss the target left, indicating a closed clubface relative to your swing path.

Cause: Closed clubface, inside-out path, trapped release

Fix: Open clubface, outside-in path, fully release

  • Work on freeing your wrist release through impact
  • Make sure your swing path is outside-in not inside-out
  • If necessary, weaken your grip slightly

Topped Shot

Topping the ball sends it dribbling along the ground. This happens when you make contact high on the ball.

Cause: Hitting down steeply, swaying off the ball

Fix: Shallow attack angle, limit lower body movement

  • Focus on sweeping through impact, not steep descending blow
  • Limit lateral sway by keeping front knee flexed
  • Make sure weight is centered not on back foot

Follow Through Errors

Your finish position and motions after impact provide the final clues for deciphering swing errors.

Common follow through faults:

  • Decelerating – Slowing club during downswing
  • Standing up – Straightening legs prematurely
  • Casting – Releasing wrists too early

Maintain your spine angle and balanced finish position. Let your momentum carry you forward fully balanced on your front leg. Keep wrists hinged until after making contact for maximum clubhead speed.

Preventing Future Errors

Now that you understand what causes common swing errors, you can practice proper fundamentals to avoid those mistakes.

Here are key tips for ingraining an error-free swing:

  • Study videos of pros with textbook swings and copy their motions
  • Perform daily grip and posture drills to perfect your setup
  • Make smooth, moderate-length backswings on plane
  • Feel an accelerating thump as you release the club
  • Extend your arms, body, and clubhead through the ball
  • Finish in balance with chest facing the target

Training aids like impact bags and swing planes can also help groove correct positions so mistakes become impossible.

With disciplined practice and these adjustments, you will eliminate your swing faults for lower scores.

Key Takeaways

  • Diagnose specific swing errors like slices, hooks and tops by comparing your motion to examples
  • Grip and setup faults contribute greatly to errors – ensure a neutral grip and athletic posture
  • Keep the backswing on plane and avoid overswinging
  • Master drills like bowing the wrist to fix downswing errors
  • Ingrain positions through training aids and videos of ideal swings
  • Preventing mistakes through fundamentals takes practice but pays off hugely

By identifying your weaknesses, making proper adjustments, and ingraining correct positions, you can banish those frustrating errors from your game for good. That will remove the extra strokes holding back your scores. Keep practicing with the tips outlined here to enjoy straight shots that find the fairway and land close to the pin.

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