Are the chipping yips caused by a mental or physical problem? The debate is still ongoing and the answer depends on who you ask in golf. I often work with students who have the chipping yips, but I think they are more rare than the putting yips. What are the chipping yips? The yips in chipping, similar to putting, happen when a golfer feels he’s jerking or hacking at the ball close to impact. The swing breaks down at impact and slams into the ground or the golfer will scull the ball over the green. The tips cause a severe change in your technique.
Many golfers will describe the yips as an uncontrollable flinch at the ball out of their control, like some external force is making them do it. When you have the yips with chipping, you can’t chip your best and this can lead to embarrassment for all players in the group, not just the yipper. I have found that the root cause of the yips is often the fear of embarrassment or a similar fear of failure.
Tour Pros will do anything to avoid or overcome the chipping yips. They will switch to chipping cross handed. They will change their club or equipment. They will chip with their eyes closed. Thus, anyone can get the chipping yips, not just senior players as some people would argue. Golf teachers, such as Hank Haney, would say that the chipping yips start with poor technique rather than a poor mindset. Haney says that a change in your grip to take out the wrist in putting can cure the putting yips, for example.
I disagree with Haney. The chipping yips start with fear—fear of hitting a bad shot, fear of embarrassment, or any other fear that causes golfer to tighten up. Often, when you are scared to miss the shot, you’ll too hard to make a good stroke and in most cases over control the stroke. Trying too hard (caused by fear of poor results) and over control lead are the culprits of jerking the hands at impact. Many of my mental game students have improved their chipping by letting go of the trying mind and using their athletic talent to hit the shot. I understand that good technique is very important for any type of shot. But fear and over control will get in the way a technically sound stroke.
If you can chip well in practice, and look like a different player on the course of in tournament play, most likely your yips start inside your head and not with faulty technique. Get started today by download my anti-yips practice drills for golfers.