How to Recover From The Yips
The unwritten rule about the yips is…
Don’t think about the yips… Don’t mention the yips… Don’t talk about the yips… Don’t admit you have the yips!
Most golfers refuse to utter the word “yips” as if they have a terminal disease that will ruin their game forever.
There is no doubt that the yips can drastically hurt confidence, stirring fear and fostering widespread negative emotions such as; doubt, anger, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness and anxiety.
There are several questions golfers have regarding the yips:
- What causes the yips?
- Can a golfer recover from a bout of the yips?
- What’s the most effective resolution to the yips?
What causes the yips and what keeps them in the forefront are two entirely different questions.
Many experts believe there is a physical cause to the yips such as injury, muscle twitching or a breakdown of motor skills.
Whatever the cause, the more important element is what keeps a golfer trapped in the yips cycle.
The yips have a strong mental component that makes the issue even more problematic.
Lack of confidence, increased anxiety, overthinking, over-analysis, fear, misplaced focus and negative thinking are huge contributors that keep the yips in play during a round of golf.
In essence, the yips may have started as a physical issue but it’s the mental factors that make the yips feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
The next question is: Can you recover from the yips?
YES! The misconception many golfers have is that once you have the yips you will always have the yips, almost like the yips are a dormant virus, a part of your physical makeup that, under the right circumstances, rear their ugly head again.
With the right tools, you can get past the yips.
The billion dollar question is: What is the most effective method to break free from the clutches of the yips?
A large majority of golfers even try to ignore the problem but burying the problem adds to the mystique of the issue and makes it even more problematic.
Many golfers tinker with their swing and elicit the help of swing coaches.
These golfers often feel better after a practice round but still find themselves troubled by the yips when the pressure is on.
With all these mental factors at play, a golfer would be remiss to solely search for a physical or technical solution.
The pressure aspect of a competitive round exacerbates the yips.
With effective mental techniques and strategies, you can beat the yips.
That doesn’t mean you won’t push a short putt a few inches wide from time to time or flub on a shot.
What it does mean is that you can swing the club freely again without the looming feeling that the worst will always happen.
Effective strategies include relaxation, re-focusing on the shot at hand, confidence building and employing more enhancing types of self-talk.
A recent example of the yips is Kevin Na.
Na is 34 years old and has been playing professionally for 17 years Na had a difficult time with the yips over the past few years.
Despite his many years as a pro, Na has battled with the yips for over five years.
Na’s yips troubles started at the 2012 Players Championship.
Na revealed how difficult the yips can be.
NA: “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, ‘I can’t take the club back. People talked about it, ‘He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.’ I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”
Na sought out other golfers who experienced the yips in search of an answer.
NA: “It took time. I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy. All good now. I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”
Na’s improved mental game was the deciding factor in winning his second PGA Tour event, the 2018 Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, his first PGA Tour victory since 2011.
Even though there was tremendous pressure, Na finished strong, with no signs of the yips, carding and taking the title by five strokes.
What was the key for Na? What mindset helped him stayed focused on his game?
NA: “I tried not to think about winning. Obviously it seems like I’ve always tried too hard… What is the difference the fine line between trying too hard and letting it happen? Definitely thinking about that trophy. I was definitely thinking about winning. But I was trying to stay in the moment. I felt really good. I felt relaxed, and I tried [not to look at the leaderboard].”
Na’s post-tournament comment is insightful and provides great advice.
Overcoming the yips is a matter of:
- Staying relaxed – Tight muscles are a characteristic of yipping.
- Letting it happen – Second guessing is another contributor to the yips. You need to learn to trust yourself.
- Stay in the moment – Immerse yourself in the process rather than worrying about results.
Following this mental recipe will help you strengthen your game, overcome the yips and achieve more in the sport.
Learn more about how to overcome the putting and chipping yips:
Overcome The Yips and Enjoy Golf Again!
Golfers, do you suffer from:
- Anxiety, tension and over control of the stroke or swing?
- Performance anxiety about what others will think?
- Inability to wing the club freely on the course, despite the fact that you can in practice?
Check out: Breaking the Yips Cycle
Golfers: Learn how to overcome the fear that keeps you stuck in a vicious cycle
Instructors: Learn how to give your students the mental game edge.
Coaches: Help your team members play with freedom instead of fear or tension.
What are Golf Psychology Students Saying?
“Your response to the throwing problem in front of the coach covers so many situations in life…that is the beauty of playing sports…the life learning experiences. Keep up the good work…you are the best coach.”
“Yes! Awesome tips and they worked great. I was having a tough time mentally with putts inside of 4 feet for self imposed fear of missing them. After doing all of your drills I found myself just looking at the hole on the shorts putts similar to a free throw. Seems to be working. Thank you so much!”
“I write you because it’s been 6 months since I started the program Breaking the Yips Cycle. Before that I was putting with a long putt and due to the ban on anchoring I switched to a short putt and started your program. The yips program has helped me a lot. I have been able to focus on what matters instead of thinking about the outcome or fearing a yippy stroke.”
~Ricardo Abogabir C.
“I’ve had the yips for 30 years. With the anchor ban, I thought I needed to quit golf. It was frustrating hearing golf experts and commentators state that no amateur was going to quit golf because of the anchoring ban. Obviously, these experts don’t know anything about the yips. I’m so glad I found you. Your drills really helped. It might sound silly, but the biggest thing that helped me is knowing that the yips is mental. It might sound crazy, for someone to have the yips for 30 years, and not know it’s mental. I also believe I know my reason for having the yips, and I see how my insecurities in every day life contributed to the yips. Thank you for your help.”