Must-Try Golf Swing Drills To Stop Hitting Behind The Ball

Struggling with hitting behind the ball in golf?

Discover effective drills and techniques to improve your swing and make solid contact every time.

Keep reading for a detailed explanation and actionable tips to perfect your game.

Understanding the Issue

Hitting behind the ball, often referred to as hitting “fat” shots, is a common problem that can frustrate even experienced golfers.

By understanding what it means and identifying the causes, you can start to make improvements and see a positive impact on your game.

What Does It Mean to Hit Behind the Ball?

Hitting behind the ball occurs when the club makes contact with the ground before striking the ball.

This results in a heavy, sluggish shot that lacks distance and accuracy.

The club digs into the turf, creating a divot before it reaches the ball, causing a loss of power and control. Instead of a crisp, clean strike, you end up with a shot that falls short of your target.

Common Causes of Hitting “Fat” Shots

Several factors can contribute to hitting behind the ball.

Understanding these causes can help you address them effectively:

  1. Improper Weight Transfer:
    • During the downswing, failing to shift your weight from the back foot to the front foot can cause the club to bottom out too early, leading to fat shots. Proper weight transfer is crucial for ensuring the club strikes the ball before the ground.
  2. Ball Position:
    • Placing the ball too far back in your stance can cause the club to strike the ground prematurely. The ideal ball position varies depending on the club you're using, but generally, the ball should be slightly forward of center for irons.
  3. Early Release or “Casting”:
    • Releasing the wrists too early in the downswing causes the clubhead to drop too soon, resulting in hitting the ground before the ball. Maintaining the wrist angle longer into the downswing can help prevent this.
  4. Improper Swing Plane:
    • A steep swing plane can lead to the club digging into the turf. Ensuring a shallower swing plane can promote better contact with the ball.
  5. Lack of Rotation:
    • Inadequate body rotation can cause your arms to take over the swing, leading to fat shots. Proper rotation of the lower body towards the target during the downswing helps maintain the correct swing path.

Impact on Your Game and Score

Hitting behind the ball can have several negative effects on your game:

  1. Loss of Distance:
    • Fat shots result in a significant loss of distance, as the energy intended for the ball is absorbed by the ground. This can leave you short of your target and require extra strokes to reach the green.
  2. Reduced Accuracy:
    • Hitting behind the ball often leads to inconsistent shots that veer off course. This lack of precision can make it challenging to control where the ball lands.
  3. Frustration and Confidence:
    • Consistently hitting fat shots can be frustrating and detrimental to your confidence. It can make it difficult to enjoy the game and improve your overall performance.
  4. Higher Scores:
    • The combined effect of reduced distance and accuracy can lead to higher scores. Extra strokes to recover from poor shots can quickly add up, impacting your overall game.

Drills to Improve Your Swing

Improving your golf swing to stop hitting behind the ball requires focused practice with specific drills.

These exercises are designed to correct common mistakes and promote proper technique, helping you make solid contact with the ball every time.

No Turn Backswing Drill

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Set up to the golf ball as you normally would.
  2. Lift your arms to sternum height, maintaining your spine angle.
  3. Slightly turn the club to the right without turning your shoulders.
  4. Swing back down, focusing on hitting the ball first.

Benefits and How It Helps Prevent Hitting Behind the Ball:

  • This drill helps keep your arms in front of your body, preventing them from getting too far behind you during the backswing.
  • Ensures that your clubhead is in the correct position to strike the ball before hitting the ground.

Tips for Practicing the Drill:

  • Start slow to get the feel of the correct movement.
  • Practice in front of a mirror to ensure you're maintaining the correct spine angle.
  • Gradually increase speed as you become more comfortable with the motion.

Forearms Connection Drill

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Place a ball (like a balloon or basketball) between your forearms.
  2. Take your regular golf stance.
  3. Make practice swings while keeping pressure on the ball, ensuring it stays in place.

Importance of Proper Arm Structure:

  • Promotes proper arm structure and connection, preventing your arms from drifting apart during the swing.
  • Helps maintain a consistent swing path and solid contact.

Tips for Maintaining Pressure on the Ball:

  • Focus on keeping your forearms connected throughout the swing.
  • Use a smaller ball if you find it difficult to keep a larger ball in place.
  • Regularly check your form to ensure you're not compensating with other parts of your body.

Weight Shift Drill

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Set up to the ball with your regular stance.
  2. Step your lead foot back beside your trail foot.
  3. Practice swinging while stepping the lead foot back into its regular position during the downswing.

Emphasis on Weight Transfer:

  • This drill emphasizes the importance of shifting your weight forward during the swing, which is crucial for proper impact.
  • Ensures that your weight moves from the back foot to the front foot, preventing fat shots.

Tips for Executing the Drill Correctly:

  • Start with slow, deliberate swings to get the timing right.
  • Focus on feeling the weight shift from your back foot to your front foot.
  • Gradually increase your swing speed as you become more comfortable with the movement.

Swing Plane and Angle of Attack Drills

Explanation of Swing Plane and Angle of Attack:

  • The swing plane is the path your club follows during the swing. A shallower swing plane helps avoid hitting the ground before the ball.
  • The angle of attack is the angle at which the clubhead strikes the ball. A steeper angle can cause fat shots, so a shallower angle is preferable.

Specific Drills and Exercises:

  • Alignment Stick Drill: Place an alignment stick along your target line and another parallel to it, just inside your ball position. Practice swinging along the path created by the sticks.
  • Toe-up Drill: Focus on bringing the clubhead toe up at the halfway point of the backswing and downswing to promote a shallower plane.

Use of Alignment Aids or Training Clubs:

  • Utilize alignment sticks, training clubs with markers, or even tees to ensure you are swinging on the correct path.
  • Regularly check your swing path using these aids to develop muscle memory for the correct plane.

Wrist Control and Release Exercises

Explanation of Wrist Control and Release:

  • Wrist control involves maintaining the angle between your lead arm and the clubshaft through the downswing.
  • Early release or “casting” happens when you lose this angle too soon, leading to hitting behind the ball.

Step-by-Step Exercises:

  1. Impact Bag Drill: Use an impact bag to practice maintaining wrist angle through the downswing. Strike the bag with the correct wrist angle to develop muscle memory.
  2. Lag Drill: Start your downswing and stop halfway, ensuring your wrists are still cocked. Then complete the swing, maintaining the angle as long as possible.

Tips to Avoid Early Release or “Casting”:

  • Focus on keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead at impact.
  • Practice slow-motion swings to ensure you’re maintaining the correct wrist angle.
  • Use a mirror to check your form and make adjustments as needed.

Key Techniques to Implement

Implementing the right techniques is crucial for avoiding fat shots and improving your overall golf game.

By focusing on weight transfer, ball position, balance, rotation, and trusting the loft of your irons, you can make significant strides in hitting the ball cleanly and effectively.

Proper Weight Transfer

Weight transfer is essential in a golf swing. During the backswing, your weight should shift to your back foot.

This helps store energy that will be transferred to the ball during the downswing.

As you begin your downswing, the weight should transition forward, ending with most of your weight on your front foot at impact.

To practice this, start by taking your normal stance.

As you initiate the backswing, feel the weight move into your back foot, specifically into the inside part of the foot.

At the top of your swing, your back knee should have a slight bend, and your back foot should carry most of your weight.

When transitioning to the downswing, focus on moving your weight towards your front foot smoothly.

By the time you strike the ball, about 70-80% of your weight should be on your front foot.

Practicing this weight shift drill regularly will help you make solid contact with the ball, avoiding fat shots.

Correct Ball Position

Ball position is crucial because it influences the angle at which the club strikes the ball.

For irons, the ball should be slightly forward of the center of your stance, aligned with the logo or buttons on your shirt.

This allows the club to make contact with the ball just before the ground, ensuring a crisp hit.

For higher lofted clubs, position the ball in the middle of your stance.

For longer irons, move the ball slightly more forward.

To find the correct ball position, start by setting up as if you're about to hit the ball.

Check your stance to ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart.

For short irons, place the ball midway between your feet.

As you move to mid-irons and longer clubs, adjust the ball position progressively forward.

This small adjustment can significantly impact the quality of your shots, helping you avoid hitting behind the ball.

Maintaining Balance

Balance is key throughout your golf swing. Staying balanced ensures you maintain control and power from setup to follow-through.

To achieve this, focus on a stable stance.

Begin by setting up with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight evenly distributed between them.

As you swing, keep your movements controlled and avoid overswinging.

A good tip is to imagine a straight line running through the middle of your body from head to toe.

Try to stay centered on this line throughout your swing. Avoid shifting your weight excessively to either side.

During the backswing, your weight should move to the inside of your back foot, not outside of it.

On the downswing, smoothly transfer your weight to the front foot without lunging.

Keeping your swing compact and controlled will help maintain your center of gravity, resulting in better ball contact.

Proper Rotation

Body rotation is vital for a powerful and accurate golf swing.

Proper rotation involves turning your upper body around a stable, centered position rather than sliding sideways.

Start by ensuring your shoulders and hips rotate together during the backswing.

At the top of your swing, your shoulders should be turned fully, with your back facing the target.

Your hips should also rotate, but to a lesser extent.

As you begin the downswing, focus on rotating your lower body towards the target.

This movement should be initiated by your hips, followed by your shoulders.

Ensure that your right side (for right-handed golfers) doesn’t collapse.

Instead, maintain a firm posture, allowing your upper body to follow your lower body naturally.

Proper rotation helps generate power and keeps your swing path consistent, reducing the likelihood of hitting behind the ball.

Trusting the Loft of Your Irons

Trusting the loft of your irons is essential for making clean contact.

Many golfers try to lift the ball into the air, resulting in a scooping motion that leads to fat shots.

Instead, focus on hitting down on the ball.

The loft of your irons is designed to get the ball airborne, so you don't need to help it.

During your swing, concentrate on making a descending blow.

Picture the clubhead striking the ball and then the ground in one smooth motion.

This ensures that the ball is struck first, followed by a divot.

Practice this by hitting balls off a tee, gradually lowering the tee until you're hitting off the ground.

This drill reinforces the correct motion and builds confidence in your club's loft.

Trusting the club to do its job allows you to focus on maintaining a solid swing, leading to better ball striking and avoiding fat shots.

Practical Tips and Common Mistakes

To truly improve your golf swing and avoid hitting behind the ball, it's important to be aware of common mistakes and learn practical tips for consistent practice.

By understanding and addressing these areas, you can develop a more reliable and effective swing.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the overarching issues that lead to hitting behind the ball is improper weight transfer.

Many golfers fail to shift their weight correctly during the swing, resulting in the club striking the ground before the ball.

This often occurs when the weight remains on the back foot during the downswing.

To correct this, focus on moving your weight to your front foot as you start the downswing.

Practice drills that emphasize weight transfer, such as the weight shift drill, to develop the correct motion.

Another common mistake is having the wrong ball position.

Placing the ball too far back in your stance can cause the club to hit the ground prematurely.

Ensure that the ball is positioned correctly for each club type: slightly forward of center for irons, in the middle for higher lofted clubs, and slightly forward for longer irons.

Checking and adjusting your ball position before each shot can help avoid this mistake.

Early release, or “casting,” is another frequent error.

This happens when the wrists release too soon, causing the clubhead to drop and strike the ground before the ball.

To identify and correct early release, work on maintaining your wrist angle longer into the downswing.

Drills that focus on wrist control and release, like the impact bag drill, can help you develop the proper timing.

A steep swing plane is also a culprit for hitting behind the ball.

When the swing plane is too vertical, the club tends to dig into the turf.

Aim for a shallower swing plane by practicing drills that promote a more horizontal path.

Using alignment aids or training clubs can help you visualize and achieve the correct swing plane.

Lastly, inadequate body rotation can lead to fat shots.

When the body doesn’t rotate properly, the arms tend to take over, causing an inconsistent swing.

Focus on rotating your lower body towards the target during the downswing, ensuring that your upper body follows.

Practicing drills that emphasize proper rotation can help you avoid this mistake.

Practical Tips for Consistency

Consistency in golf comes from regular, focused practice.

To develop a consistent swing, incorporate a variety of drills into your practice routine.

Start by dedicating specific practice sessions to each drill.

For example, spend one session focusing on the no turn backswing drill, and another on the forearms connection drill.

This targeted practice helps ingrain the correct movements.

Always begin your practice sessions with a proper warm-up.

Stretching and light exercises prepare your muscles and improve flexibility, reducing the risk of injury and ensuring better performance.

Once warmed up, start with shorter swings and gradually progress to full swings.

This helps you build control and accuracy before adding power.

Visualization is a powerful tool for consistency.

Before each shot, visualize the entire swing and the desired ball flight.

This mental practice helps reinforce the correct technique and builds confidence.

Additionally, practice with a purpose.

Set specific goals for each session, such as improving weight transfer or refining wrist control.

Having clear objectives keeps you focused and motivated.

Incorporate feedback into your practice routine.

Use video recordings or work with a coach to analyze your swing and identify areas for improvement.

Reviewing your performance regularly helps you track progress and make necessary adjustments.

Lastly, practice under varied conditions. Golf is an outdoor sport, and conditions can change rapidly.

Practice in different weather conditions and on various terrains to develop adaptability.

This prepares you for real-game scenarios and helps maintain consistency despite external factors.


Improving your golf swing to avoid hitting behind the ball requires understanding common mistakes and implementing effective drills.

By focusing on proper techniques and consistent practice, you can achieve better ball contact and overall performance.

Keep these tips in mind, and you'll see significant progress in your game.