The putting “yips” are one of golf’s most perplexing challenges. Golf and putting is not fun if you think you have the yips. The yips have driven more good golfers to give up the game than any other golfing challenge. When players label themselves as having the putting yips, they think they have an incurable disease. Putting confidence declines and the fear of missing putts makes matters worse. Players who suffer from the fear of missing don’t like to putt. The more they putt, the worse it gets, until it’s intolerable. This leads golfers to believe they have an affliction that they must learn to play with. When golfers condition themselves into believing they have the yips, it is extremely hard for change to occur.
The putting yips start with poor results and missing short putts. Players then progresses to the fear of missing putts, which intensifies the fear of putting. Players begin to feel like it’s a physical condition; they believe that it can be corrected with a change in technique or practice habits. But the golfing yips come from the golfer’s inability to gain neuromuscular control due to poor attentional focus, over control or anxiety.
Intense anxiety or fear does not allow the golfer to control his stroke and putt smoothly. The player freezes and can’t draw the putter back from the ball and initiate the putting stroke. He wants to move the club back, but his hands and arms are in a vise. It’s like a deer that freezes in the middle of the road by the fear of an approaching car. Another form of the yips occurs when the player tenses up at impact and feels like he or she is stabbing at the ball.
The putting yips are not uncontrollable; they are curable. Several PGA touring professionals, such as Bernhard Langer, who suffered from the yips have learned to putt with freedome again. But you have to stop labeling yourself as having a physical “illness” that causes you to jab at your putts. You must understand that the physical symptoms of the yips come from a poor mental game. You can overcome the putting yips with the right mindset and type of practice. Download my free anti-yips putting drills to help you get started.