What Causes Yips Symptoms?

Where Do The Yips Come From?

One of the most studied phenomenon’s in the game of golf is the sudden appearance of the putting “yips”.

Symptoms of the yips include jerks, tremors and freezing, which cause performance problems for tournament players.

Related Article: Performance Anxiety and Golf Putting Yips

Research suggests that the yips add approximately 4.7 strokes to affected golfers scores for 18 holes of golf. However, the cause of yip symptoms is still widely debated among sport psychology professionals.

In 2000, researchers studied the yips to determine whether the yips are a neurological problem caused by anxiety, or whether the behavior is initiated by anxiety that causes a permanent neuromuscular spasm.

The study was broke down into two parts:

First the investigators met with professional golfers who assisted in the development of a yips questionnaire.

The questionnaire was then sent to 2630 tournament players with a 12 or less handicap to find out how many golfers in the study reported having the yips and how they described it.

Out of the 2630 tournament players, 1031 (39%) responded (986 men and 45 women).

Of these, 541 (52%) said they experienced the yip symptoms compared with 490 (48%) who did not.

Golfers with the yips reported that the most troublesome putts were 3, 4 and 2 feet from the hole. Golfers also indicated that fast, downhill, left-to-right breaking putts and tournament play caused the yips response.

In part two, they studied situations for golfers that contribute to the yips.

They measure golfers’ heart rate and looked at videotape of the golfers putting. At the same time, they measured grip pressure on the putter.  They also used an electromyogram (EMG) to record the electrical activity of muscles during putting performance.

The researchers concluded that golfers with the yips showed higher muscle activity, faster heart rates, higher grip pressure, and poorer putting performance than golfers without the yips.

Golfers with the yips had more forearm muscle activity and higher anxiety levels compared to other golfers.

This study concluded that the yips are caused by anxiety-related problems (choking), which cause muscles contract and spasm involuntarily.


Detling, N. J., Smith, A. M., Kaufman, K. K., Malo, S. A., Laskowski, E. R., Sabick, M. M., & … Hay, I. D. (2000). A Multidisciplinary Study of the Yips Phenomenon in Golf: An Exploratory Analysis. Sports Medicine, 30(6), 423-437.

Overcome The Yips and Enjoy Golf Again!

Golf Yips

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.

Breaking The Yips Cycle: How to Putt, Chip, And Pitch Freely and Enjoy Playing Golf Again

What are Golf Psychology Students Saying?

“I have spent hundreds to dollars on clubs, putters, etc. always looking for answers. But I knew this was not going to work because I have some internal issues I had to deal with on the golf course. Working with Dr. Cohn on mental game by far is the best investment I have made. I have some great tools to work on to see my mental game improve.  I feel better now than I have ever have on the golf course and I thank you so much for helping me with the positive mental direction.”
~Sean McQueary

“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.


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What are golfers saying about our putting yips drills?

“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.”
~Kevin Stankewicz

“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!”
~Shawn Barr

Overcome The Yips With Expert Mental Game Coaching!

Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.

You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!

What are our mental coaching students saying?

“Yes Patrick, I’m a five handicap and also mentally handicapped by the yips. What worked for me was the aim, set and go drill. You don’t have time to think about yipping. I played today and not one yip. I owe you big time. Thanks again.”
~Mike Helms

“I went on to the putting green right after receiving your mail. What a great feeling of freedom. No tense at all, smiling and more consistent than ever before. I have a very low handicap and of course I have great rounds during the years, but you have taken me to a new level by curing the yips. I have just read your report again, and now I get the point in your comparing with throwing darts. I am very grateful – if you visit Denmark I will invite you out for dinner.”
~Søren Meinertsen

1 thought on “What Causes Yips Symptoms?”

  1. Dear Patrick,

    This particular study was unusually bad, as the Mayo Clinic team was totally unaware of their own expert, Dr. Charles Adler, in the Scottsdale Mayo Clinic, and reached a scientifically dumb conclusion that had to be redone after Dr. Adler’s science was pointed out to them. The SECOND Mayo Clinic study essentially reverses the first effort of these “sports science” folks “Aynsley Smith is the head of the first team, and she is a sports psychologist, along with Debbie Crews, the EEG-toting sports psychologists also in Scottsdale, and Dave Pelz, who has no neuroscience background). Dr. Adler’s background is “focal occupational dystonia”, which is the usual categorization of the yips in golf. When he joined the team, the first team’s effort (your 2000 study above) was completely recast. For more information, you may read a full critique of the first study here: G. Mangum, The Neurophysiology Of Golf Putting: The Mayo Clinic Takes a Stab at the “Yips”, PuttingZone.com, Nov. 2002, http://www.puttingzone.com/Dystonia/yipsstudy.html.


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