Using Mental Imagery To Overcome The Yips
I found an article in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, about decreasing the putting “yips” – in which golfers experience a sudden tremor, freezing, or jerking motion while putting.
The researchers suggest that the yips have both physical and psychological connections, and the more than 25 percent of professional golfers acquire the yips.
In the article, the authors wanted to see if using mental imagery had value in decreasing the putting yips in professional golfers.
Mental imagery is a technique used in sport psychology that involves athletes imagining themselves performing a specific activity successfully. When athletes see themselves enjoying the activity and feeling satisfied with their performance, it enhances their confidence and prepares them mentally.
Related Article: How Much Should You Think in Golf?
Three male professional golfers who reported having the yips in tournament play, participated in the study. Each of the golfers were low handicap golfers of less than 6, play golf at least twice a week, and had over 24-years experience.
The researchers designed five types of imagery to create vivid images of thinking, feeling, and performing in ways that would help golfers perform without the yips, such as putting with a smooth continuous stroke.
The imagery sessions were scheduled weekly. After each session the golfers played nine rounds of golf. The golfers putting performance was observed, and videotaped for further review.
After reviewing all the information collected, the researchers found that each golfer improved their ability to putt without the yips after mental imagery sessions.
Additional information was collected for three weeks following the last imagery session. The golfers studied also decreased in the yips during the follow-up period.
How can you use mental imagery to help you putt with more confidence and freedom?
First, you want to find a quite spot at your house or office.
Next, you should start with some deep breathing to relax your body and mind.
Finally, you want to image or experience yourself putting with confidence and relaxation on the course, with a smooth stroke–one that you were once familiar with prior to feeling the yips.
Bell, R. J., Skinner, C. H., & Fisher, L. A. (2009). Decreasing Putting Yips in Accomplished Golfers via Solution-Focused Guided Imagery: A Single-Subject Research Design. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 21(1), 1-14
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3 thoughts on “Mental Imagery And The Putting Yips”
These yips can be handled, but it takes knowledge of the correct methods and the right ways to eradicate the golfing yips problem for good. You must attack the problem at its core, and rid yourself of the nervousness and anxiety that is forcing your yips.
So the yips have a strong mental portion, and failing to resolve the underlying nervousness or anxiety is tantamount to only treating the symptoms—-which visual imaging solves to some extent for some people.
Does this mean that life counselling is the real way to overcome the yips, something in the past that created the seeds of anxiety or nervousness?
No, I don’t think it’s about the past. This is not Freudian Psychology. It’s about removing the fear in the present and helping you putt with freedom and confidence.