How to Cure the Yips in Your Golf Game
Have you ever stood over a shot and feared what could go wrong only to end up doing exactly what you feared? You likely had the yips!
The yips is a mental problem in golf that results from anxiety building up and leads to over-control of the shot you feared most.
This anxiety causes twitchy and jerky movements as your muscles aren’t calm and relaxed to free flow as they should. The yips bring on the fear of embarrassment, inadequacy, failure, and frustration.
The Yips can be a golfer’s worst nightmare.
Once you have the yips you’ll fear them again and again, expecting and almost willing that uncontrollable involuntary muscle movement to occur at the least fortunate time. I’ve stood over a shot before that requires going over the water and said to my “please don’t chunk it into the water” only to end up losing control of my swing and chunking it right into the middle of the water.
I get asked often about how to cure the yips so I decided to write an article on it today so that we can help the hundreds of golfers reading our blog cure this dreadful part of the golf game and make golf fun again. The yips can be a frustrating time and we don’t want you to quit the game of golf as a result of them.
Let’s get one thing straight right away.
The yips have nothing to do with your natural ability to play golf. There are professional golfers on the PGA Tour who have all the skill in the world and yet they are affected by the yips just like anyone else.
Ernie Els Putting Yips at the Masters
For example, you’ve likely seen the master’s video clip where Ernie Else couldn’t make a putt. Literally. He took 7 attempts to get the ball into the hole with his putter.
The yips can take many different forms but to make things easier to understand we will classify them into two main categories:
- The Chipping Yips – when you chunk, thin, or mishit chip shots
- The Putting Yips – when you have jerky hand movement during your putting stroke, making it very difficult to maintain a straight stroke and hit the ball squarely.
How do you cure the yips?
You have to go into your mind and reprogram the mental approach to your golf game. Making little fixes like changing your putters grip and loosening or tightening your grip of the club will not be the end all fix all to your problems.
Remember, it’s a mental and emotional issue related to your golf game. You have to learn how to control your emotions and strengthen your mental toughness.
It can start by understanding further what causes the yips. Once you are aware of something, you’ll be less likely to fear it as your ability to understand it will give you a boost of confidence as to how to fix it.
Let’s start by talking further about emotional yips.
Emotional yips are the result of fear. For example, you may fear hitting a bad shot or you may fear the embarrassment of missing a simple short putt. You may even fear yipping itself.
Your fears are the result of past experiences, which are stored in your subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is what triggers your feelings and fear is a feeling. Severity of your yips depends on how deep rooted your fear is within your subconscious mind.
In other words, how many times have you experienced your feeling of fear in the past. People who 3 putt, for example, often deep root the fear of 3 putting in their subconscious which ultimately causes them to 3 putt again and again every round.
There is a war going on between your conscious and subconscious as your consciously wanting to hit the proper chip or putt, but your subconscious mind is saying “NO! Don’t do it!” causing you fear of failure.
When you stand over a putt and experience that jerky stroke, it’s a result of your subconscious trying to stop you from taking the back swing and you fighting it off by forcing the motion, while uncomfortable.
Take this quote from Johnny Miller…
“When the putter went off like a firecracker in your hands and you knocked a 10 footer eight feet past the hole or left it four feet short … You lose all sense of how hard to hit the putt. Finally, the putter bolts away from the ball and then forward with an uncontrollable jerk. Your mind leaves your body, as though you’re in a movie watching somebody hold the putter for you.”
Final Words on How to Cure the Yips in Golf
To beat the yips, you ultimately have to trust your stroke. Take a step back, regain your composure, breathe, and step back up to the golf shot at hand. You need to clear your head prior to hitting the shot so that your natural ability can take control and not let your subconscious alter your reality.
- Know what to focus on in between shots to displace thoughts about yipping
- Follow a disciplined shot routine to keep your conscious mind focused on positives
- Just letting go, engaging with the target and trusting your subconscious to play the shot
- Getting better at responses to yips
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