If you’ve ever been to a golf instructor, watched a PGA event on TV, or flipped on the Golf Channel, you’ve probably heard someone talking about hitting the golf ball from the inside.
It’s a popular message in the golf world that most people assume their audience knows what it means. This is a power move that will allow you to generate more power and consistency than ever before. It’s one of the few things that all PGA Tour a majority of scratch golfers have in common.
A lot of amateur golfers would benefit from hitting the shot more from the inside, but that’s not always the case. Hitting from this angle will fix one of the most common mistakes among amateur golfers – a slice. If you want to fix the dreaded shot and start playing better golf, this is the way to do it.
What Hitting from the Inside means in the Golf Swing?
So what does it mean to hit from the inside?
Let’s start by thinking about an imaginary line between the target and your golf ball. Imagine it extending infinitely in both directions.
Making contact from inside means you are coming underneath and compressing the shot. The opposite is a out to in swing path that most amateur players deal with. Sometimes, this habit is ingrained for years or even decades which makes it harder to change but still very possible.
This move is often very subtle, but feels very significant from the player’s perspective. A lot of times, a change like this, made to the golf swing, feels incredibly awkward and ineffective at first because it is outside the player’s natural comfort zone.
One of the most common reasons people talk about hitting the ball from the inside is because they want to create an inside-out move.
The neutral path, which creates a perfectly straight shot, also comes from the inside, but then extends slightly inside the target line again after impact. If you imagine your golf swing from a bird’s-eye view, your golf swing is basically a circle.
The target line connects to the swing circle at only one point, your impact position. Ideally, your swing would approach the shot from the inside, make contact with the ball, and then swing out. Here’s a quick visual to think about your swing with an aerial view.
Figure 1: Bird’s-eye view of a golfer and swing.
Why would you want an Inside Out Golf Swing?
Next, let’s dig in to why you should hit the golf ball from the inside. In general, there are nine ball flights that you can hit; a combination of pull, push or block shot, slice, fade, draw, hook, and straight. These nine ball flights are collectively referred to as the ball flight laws.
Of course, there are also punch shots, flop shots, etc., but those are for another conversation completely. In order to hit each full shot, it requires a specific combination of face angle at impact and correct club head path. These two swing characteristics work together to create the nine different ball flights.
The funny thing about these laws and club head is that they work opposite of what most people’s natural thought.
For example, if a golfer continues to struggle with hitting a left to right flight, a lot of the time that’s because they are swinging outside their target-line to inside their target-line.
On the surface, you might think this is counter-intuitive, but it’s not. That type of club head path actually puts side spin on the golf shot which makes it slice, sometimes uncontrollably.
Path and Face Combinations
There are three different paths that a golfer can swing their club head down;
There are also three club face angles a golfer can have at the moment of impact;
The combination of the three moves and three face angles create the nine possible flights.
So, in a situation where a player puts too much side spin on a golf ball, leading to a left to right flight, they would want to correct that by swinging more from the inside. Likewise, a player who straight pulls the ball would also benefit from hitting the ball from the inside more.
You’ll need to do a little self-diagnosis to figure out what type of results your swing is currently producing. In general, where a ball starts will indicate the face angle and where a ball finishes will indicate the path. This is one of the most helpful things to remember for all golfers to fix their swing mid-round.
How to Hit the Golf Ball from the Inside
If you’re like most golfers, you’ve made a habit of swinging outside-in, so just thinking about doing the opposite probably won’t fix your problem overnight. Instead of hoping for change, here are some areas to focus on so that you can get into better positions consistently.
Check Your Backswing
If you want the golf club to hit a shot from the inside and hit a draw, I’ve found it’s hard to do with an inside out golf swing. If you take the club back on an inside movement, it creates a more over the top move. But if you take it more on the outside on your backswing, it makes it easier to reroute the club on the downswing.
A good example is Rory Mcilroy who has one of the best swings on tour. Since he swings so fast, it’s hard to tell but he actually takes the club outside on the way back and drops it in the slot on the downswing.
As you can tell from the video, this power move allows him to generate tons of power and create a consistent plane every time. So before switching anything, first make sure you have the proper positions on the way back. Practice your takeaway until you get the club outside your hands on the way back.
Even if it feels awkward to learn at first, know that this will create the foundation for success. Remember, the proper backswing is key to getting into the right position on the downswing.
The Right Elbow
Next, let’s focus on your back elbow (right elbow for a right-handed player). As you start the downswing, you’re going to want to keep the elbow as close to your rib cage as possible. This will allow the club to drop in the proper slot in the transition so that you can make the proper move on the way down.
This means that the opposite is true for an outside-in swing. Golfers who swing outside-in, often times will let the elbow drift away from the body where it can extend to the outer half of the ball. This is known as the chicken wing and makes it hard to make consistent contact.
Flat Left Wrist
Next, you want to make sure that you keep the back of your front wrist flat (left wrist for a right-handed player).
Keeping the wrist flat, but cocked, will force the club to lag behind your hands and stay on the inside track. If the wrist bends in the extension direction, it has the potential to drift outside the ball again, which won’t help your cause.
If you struggle to hit a draw or make an inside-out swing in general, try to focus on a point on the inside of the ball at address. As you take your swing, focus on that point so that your body will do its best to produce a swing that matches your visualization.
Hit to the Second Baseman
Finally, if you imagine standing at home plate on a baseball diamond and hitting a shot into the outfield. You want to throw your hands out to the 2nd baseman (right side of 2nd base) after impact (for a right-handed player).
In order to extend your arms in that direction after hitting it, you’ll be forced into an inside to outside golf swing. Some players find this a little easier to do if they are in the Reverse K Setup so make sure to give that a try if you need.
Inside Out Swing Path Drills
In this section, I’ll teach you simple but highly effective drills so you can regroove your swing and start shooting lower scores.
Water Bottle Drills
The water bottle drill is fairly simple to do, but extremely effective at fixing a bad golf club path.
- Simply set a water bottle (or club head cover) outside and behind your golf ball.
- Then, hit your shot as normal.
Or, you can change the position of the water bottle so that it’s just ahead of your front foot. This position ensures you have the right exit point and don’t wrap the club around to the left on the downswing. Think of it as a coming over the top cure!
The presence of the water bottle in either drill will force you to change movements in order to avoid hitting the obstruction and swing at your target. I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly you change your path when it means not hitting something that might be in the way.
Glove Under Arm
This next drill is also pretty simple and doesn’t require a ton of gadgets.
- To start, take an unused glove or small towel and tuck it under your back arm (right arm for a right-handed player) but not too high in your armpit.
- Hold the glove in place without using your hands by pinching it between your arm and side.
- Then, hit some shots with short irons and wedges at less than 100%. Make sure to keep the glove under your arm throughout the entire swing.
- As you get the hang of it, take bigger swings with longer clubs. If you can do this drill with a driver at full speed I can bet you are probably hitting bombs!
Having the glove under your arm will force you to keep your back elbow close to your side, thus impacting the golf ball from the inside.
One of the biggest problems when trying to change your swing and get in the right position is speed. This drill will slow things down so that you can work on ingraining the feeling you need in your swing.
Watch the drill above for a visual and follow the steps below:
- Using a short iron, take the club back about half way on your backswing
- Pause there and swing way out to the right of the target. You shouldn’t swing more than 50% as it’s very hard to stop mid backswing and keep going
- Disconnect with the result and focus on feeling of the in to out swing path
- Finally, make sure to not suck the club back instantly on the way back otherwise when you add speed you are setting yourself up for the over the top oop.
Alignment Stick Extension Drill
For this final drill, you need two alignment sticks or a stick and an extra club.
- Set the stick or club on the ground, in front of the ball, just outside your target line.
- Then, insert the alignment stick, 10 feet in front of your hitting area and slightly to the right of the target.
- Hit shots like normal, but try to extend your arms down the line of the club or stick after initial contact. Since the alignment rod is to the right of the target, it should help you help with an in to out golf swing.
- Having the target to the right of your sight will give you a reference point for extending your arms which should help you have a higher exit point as well.
- Also, don’t forget sometimes the ball will hit the rod if you are super accurate so plan accordingly.
These four drills are all great to do separately to improve your downswing. Don’t combine them right away, because that would be a lot to think about while practicing, but you can slowly combine them as you get better at it and want to make it more difficult.
Hitting from the Inside – FAQ’s
What does it mean to swing inside out?
You can hit every shot from three positions; in, out, and dead straight. As you probably know, hitting a shot perfectly straight is the hardest in the game. And if you come from outside you will likely hit the dreaded pull cut shot. The final way to start your downswing is coming in at the ball which makes it easier to swing out.
What does swing the handle mean in golf?
Swinging the handle is a teaching style that encourages players not to focus on moving the club head but rather the grip and forearms on the backswing. Teaching instructors who advocate swinging the handle say that players often fall into trouble when trying to control the club face with the hands. You might have felt this way if you ever get overzealous with your right hand and hit a nasty hook.
How do you hit a draw?
To hit a draw that starts right and goes left you need to have the club shut when you make contact. The more shut the clubface, the more it will draw from right to left.
The Bottom Line
As you can tell, this is the golf swing path you should strive towards. I’m confident that once you practice these drills, you can improve your game by coming from the inside on your downswing. But remember, this isn’t necessarily for everyone as an in to out movement is more like to produce a straight or draw swing.
There are times when hitting the golf ball from this angle is needed and there are times when it is less than ideal. For example, a player who wants to intentionally hit a slice or a fade would not want to swing from this position.
If you’re not sure about your flight patterns, an easy way to measure it is to get on a golf launch monitor. These devices make it easy to spot your trends and improve your game.
That being said, for the majority of amateur golfers who want to correct a slice, or start hitting the ball straighter, working on impacting the ball from the inside will be extremely helpful. Remember, how you start your backswing plays a big role in your downswing and getting the club where you want as you bottom out.
If you keep practicing and want to improve, you can create new patterns for an inside out golf swing!