Do You Have the Yips?

Overcome the Yips in GolfNot every golfer will experience the putting yips during a career. According to Wikipedia, Mayo Clinic researchers found that more than one-third of all serious golfers have had the yips at one time. Long-time golfers, who have played for 25 years or more are more likely to get the golf yips. That’s a pretty big number, but at least half of all golfers never experience the yips in their career.

And you don’t want to assume you have the yips after having a poor putting round. Most young golfers do not get the yips because they are fearless and put with a child-like mindset. What might the yips feel like if you have them? Many golfers describe that they make a stabbing motion at impact. I call this a “hit impulse.” Other golfers use terms to describe the yips, such as twitching, jerking, or flinching with their stroke or arms mostly near the impact zone when the club gets close to the ball.

If you just feel tense when you putt, I would not classify that as the yips. Muscular tension is when you feel tight in the arms and do not swing the putter freely. Your tension can come from anxiety about missing or worry about not playing well and embarrassing yourself. I thin when this gets extreme, it can turn into the putting yips. But most tension in the putting stroke does not turn into the golf yips.


  1. Swaelens says:

    Dr. Cohn,
    I do receive your emails regularly and had once one of yur mental books helping well.
    5 years ago i had a chirurgical intervention on the spinal column for low bac pain. I could still play around 10 hdcp but could’nt walk anymore. After revaidation it took me about 2 years to recover and to play 10 hdcp again. Even with a shorter game, I finf myself improved through better mind setting, but the worse is the erratic putting!
    I am 67 now and can still hit drivers of 250m, but I can’t putt the small puts anymore since my recovering after surgery. Once after a 150 miles drive, I had to play on a beautiful course with some friends. Even on the putting green, I could not hit a putt without the spams you discribed, even puts of a longer distance.
    I played very well the five first holes, all in regulation, all with 3 putts, the first with 4 putts!
    On the 5th, I had to stop through a wrong movement that injured my bac(4 vertebres are fixed together).
    Since I am thinking that there is certainly a mindset that can avoid or control yips, but the original flaw can in my case come from some entanglement of nerves not very much in the right place…?
    Especially in performance situations, in match play situations, in stress situations in general, I do have enormes difficulties to try to control the yips. The result is a general lack of confidence and trying harder to compensate…
    In the best rounds I played it still costs me 2 to 5 strokes more. Sometimes I am able to contol it better with strong positive feelings and especially thinking differently during the yips inducing strokes. Unfortunately these methods are not perfect and matter to wear out. Often changes as hand switching, 2 different putters and so on are helping also, but is is subjected to wear out as well. A totally new stable mental routine maybe…?
    Guy Swaelens

    • Guy, yes in a few cases, past physical problems that required surgery can be the culprit. But in most cases it is mental. Changing your putter, routine, stance, and technique might help in the short term, but will only be temporary fixes to the yips in my opinion.

      Patrick Cohn

  2. Thomas Harvey says:

    I have been playing golf for over 50 years. Putting has always been a challenge for me but I learned to become a good putter. Well enough to win two club championships. Last year I changed country clubs. My new course has greens with a steep back to front pitch and the pins are often cut on side hills. I started missing a lot three footers. After a while my forearms started getting very tight, to the point where I can’t feel the putter. I have miss hit, decelerated and double hit putts. i even do this in practice rounds when no one is around. All I need do is play for a score and my forearms lock up. I thought that taking the winter off would have helped but I am still yipping. I am still playing pretty well from tee to green but my putting is a mess. I was getting so disgusted with putting that on some days I feel liking throwing the bag clubs and all into the pond. I thought it might be an age issue but there are plenty of good putters at my club, my age or older.

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