Josh’s Tips & Tricks: Stop the Sway

Golf | 21 February, 2022


Hello golfers, welcome to this weeks tips & tricks. I hope the stormy weather didn’t cause you too much disruption! Fingers crossed that’s the end of the bad weather and we can all start looking forward to getting onto the golf course in the spring.

This week we are going to look at the way the body moves during the swing. It’s the classic “keep your head still” or “you lifted your head up” but in a slightly more technical way. When people tell their friends that they’re moving their head they often mean they are moving too laterally in the swing (side to side). This is called swaying.

Problems With Swaying

The golf swing should be a rotational movement therefore any lateral movements can cause problems. The main issues swaying causes are linked to ball striking, predominantly with the irons. If you move away from the central axis the low point of the swing arc is moving. If you move too far away from the target with the body in the backswing it’s difficult to get back to the ball. A lack of movement back towards the target after a sway in the backswing is one of the main causes of hitting the ground before the ball.

Causes of a Sway

A sway is often hard to detect as the player doesn’t know they’re doing it. They are often told to transfer their weight away from the target in the backswing and then back towards the target in the downswing. This can be misinterpreted and a sway can develop. A sway can also be through lack of mobility. If a player tries to turn too far into a backswing but has limitations a sway can develop. These limitations can be almost anywhere in the body but mainly occur in the hips, shoulders or back.

The Drill

As previously mentioned a sway can be difficult to identify. A visual aid is going to help with this. Set up an alignment stick so it covers the top of the ball when you address it was a short/mid iron. I have a plate that I can rest the sticks in. They’re available to buy online and are a very useful training aid. If you don’t have one you can rest an alignment stick through the side of a range basket.

Before you start hitting balls make some practice backswings making sure that the ball stays under the stick. Try to turn as far as you can without moving laterally away from the target. If you can turn the shoulders to roughly 90* and the hips roughly 45* you’re close to being at optimal rotation. If the ball becomes visible and doesn’t stay under the stick as you look at it then you have swayed. One way to prevent a sway is to shorten the backswing. If there are physical limitations a shorter backswing could be the answer until the limitations get improved.

Take a look at the video to see what a sway looks like and how to set up the drill. When you have practiced the backswing you can add it to a full shot. Try to focus on keeping the stick over the ball and hopefully your ball striking will improve.


A sway can be a major killer in ball striking. Identifying and improving body movement is a key to success on the driving range and the golf course. If you work on eliminating the sway with the short irons it will hopefully translate throughout the bag. This will improve striking and consistency with every club.

If you would like me to identify physical limitations or improve your ball striking book a lesson HERE.