If you’re reading this, then I assume you are consumed with this same frustrating, sole destroying, infuriating, embarrassing, heart breaking and quite frankly weird golfing issue called the ‘yips’.
And to be quite specific – the chipping yips.
This article is not going to give you some fluffy technique like ‘don’t think about it’ bullshit and all your troubles will cease.
This is one of hope.
Because let’s face it, after a round where the yips have strangled your golf game, crippled your score and flattened your ego…
There isn’t much hope around.
Let’s be clear, admitting this isn’t easy.
I am writing a blog offering advice on how golfers can improve. Admitting you struggle with the chipping yips isn’t fun.
But so many golfers are plagued with it, so I feel like if I can make a difference in this area, my slight loss in ego will be worth it.
I started yipping chip shots was when I was about 18, (now 30), I think I was playing off around 2 or 3 at the time.
I just remember it being absolutely sole destroying. My golf was going along smoothly, I even still had some hope of maybe playing on tour one day.
And then this feeling appeared to come out of nowhere.
And it stuck and I couldn’t shake it.
Every chip shot sent waves of panic through my body and I imagined worst case scenario’s every single time I was faced with one.
Get me on anything other than a perfect lie and mentally it was game over. I was either duffing it two feet in front of me or blading it through the back.
I often knew even before I took the club back what the outcome would be.
I spent evenings before an important tournament just praying the yips were either not too bad or my long game was on fire.
The problem was, the more I worried, the more the problem amplified.
I even gave up the game I am obsessed with for a number of years because the frustration became too great and I couldn’t see any hope of getting past it.
Nowadays back playing regularly, thankfully my handicap hasn’t moved much since when I first yipped one (I can still play to a decent level), but have the yips gone….
Bad News: No
Good News: I have realised that I have never really addressed it, I have always tried to make excuses like:
‘I haven’t been practising enough’
‘Something wrong with my technique’
‘My feel isn’t quite there’
Deep down I knew – but I was too proud to admit it.
Now I have made the first step , I truly believe with the help of a few little techniques that I have started to implement, I feel like this can be easily overcome.
Am I promising anything?
No, I could be plagued with this for the rest of my life.
But if I can overcome it, then I think this could be pretty powerful.
It’s cool reading a text book that a mental coach has written but I think seeing someone come through something is much more exciting and empowering.
So I will be updating this part of the blog and I would like you to follow me on my journey (pop email above or below)and I will be telling you what works for me and what doesn’t.
3 Different Types of Yips
According to online mental coach David Mackenzie, there are three types of causes for the yips. These are not mutually exclusive, you can have more than one. Let’s quickly run through them: (these are taken from David’s EBOOK)
Focal Dystonia is an involuntary nervous twitch or uncontrollable muscle tremor, which occurs in the muscles when performing precise movements that require the use of fine motor skills.
Yips caused by performance anxiety
Studies that have been done on the yips, show that 70% of cases fall into this category of performance anxiety caused by fear.
These yips are not necessarily caused by a nervous twitch, but the end result is the same: a complete loss of control and confidence on and around the greens
Yips caused by poor technique
Poor technique can cause you to require the hands and wrists to “save the shot” in the impact area and cause variability in the face angle and angle of attack.
So to simplify this:
Are you yip free in practice?
Can you chip perfectly when nobody else is around?
If you answered yes, then you have yips caused by performance related anxiety.
Snap – so do I.
You worry about looking silly in front of your playing partners. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s bloody embarrassing duffing a simple looking chip shot a foot in front of you, especially if you are regarded as a good player.
You worry about wrecking your score card, you might have a solid round going, you miss a green and the panic sets in.
You even just pray you might be able to get a putter on it when you miss the green. Those really tightly mown run off area’s are a god send.
On particularly yippy days, I have even putted out of the rough to try and save face.
In practice, I can hit any shot I want with absolutely no sign of the yips.
In practice, my short game is very good. It’s all there, technically nothing wrong and it’s definitely not some uncontrollable twitch I can’t stop (thankfully).
Here’s me doing a YouTube video with my brother. (No yips in sight)
I think I have just got into a very bad cycle of thinking on this particular shot which is causing these issues.
And so have you..
We have become obsessed with the outcome, It has become a habit to think about ‘worst case scenarios’, it has become a habit to believe that this will always be us.
Do we just have to learn to cope with it?
To a certain degree, I think I have – Having a low handicap with the chipping yips is not bad I suppose.
But I am not settling just for coping and neither should you.
There is a way past this..
What Am I going to do?
Well having read a ton of stuff on the subject. Mostly all negative and mostly of the ilk that this isn’t curable.
But being me, I have literally drowned myself in information and managed to find some useful, positive stuff.
So, here are the main things that make sense to me and what I am going to start incorporating this season.
- Switch off more between shots. Especially if I have just missed the green.
The tendency for me is, if I have missed a green and I know I am faced with a chip that could potentially be disastrous, I’ll tense up, rush to my ball as quick as I can and imagine every single bad thing that is going to go wrong in the process.
It’s hard work thinking like this!
So going forwards a huge conscious effort is to be made to switch off and focus on something else.
- The scenery
- have a chat
- Slow down
- Not look at my ball until I get up close
- Focus on my breathing
I know I won’t always get this right and it will be a conscious effort to begin with until it becomes a habit which is ingrained.
THIS IS A PROCESS.
- Absolutely no consideration of mechanics.
As I have already said, I can hit every single chip shot in practice to a high level and so can you probably (unless it’s a mechanical issue causing your yips), so focusing on mechanics is pointless and will only make me over control my motion, which is mostly why I have the yips.
Confident chippers aren’t thinking about technique, they see the shot and simply react to what they have imagined and to their desired target.
So mechanics are out the window (even in practice). It’s simply see the shot and hit it.
- Less time looking at the ball.
Staring at the ball for a lengthy period of time is also counterproductive for players with the yips. It can cause you to freeze over the ball and gives you too much time to think.
Just a simple glance and hit.
- Learn to Accept.
This is going to be a process. Nothing like this is changed by one simple thought or a new feeling. This is going to be a slog with plenty of dodgy yippy chips along the way.
So the best thing I can do is accept. Accept any outcome.
Nothing is off limits here. No shot is off limits.
It has all got to be accepted to shift my mind-set to become a free golfer once more. If no shot is truly off limits, how can I get upset when one doesn’t go to plan?
- Thoughts are just thoughts.
Anybody who has a negative thought pattern like this has a ton of negative thoughts jumping around. Negative thoughts are not a problem.
It’s our association with them that is. We give a negative thought about duffing a chip, so much importance, so much emotion, so much attention. It’s no wonder our body is fearful of these shots.
All the top players have negative thoughts but they view them as thoughts and nothing else.
We are not our thoughts, we choose to listen to them or not.
Never try and stop negative thoughts, you’ll always lose. Let them in and pay them no attention. Once they have no attention, they die away.
This can help you immensely with all areas of your thinking.
I had a very severe anxiety disorder for two years which left me housebound at times. Letting thoughts in and seeing them as just thoughts was a huge part of my recovery.
There is a distinct correlation here. It’s all anxiety based.
- No outcome goals
Goals like’ I want to shoot level par today’ are bad for anyone, let alone someone with our issue.
The only goal I’ll have from now on is to stick to these mental processes on every single shot, if I shoot 100 and stick to this process, I have won.
If I shoot 75 and only hearth heartedly stick to it, I have lost.
The goal is to break a cycle of bad thinking, not shoot good scores.
Break this cycle and the scores will come, so scores should never be the goal…
- Forget my ego
I have spent some time analyzing my thought patterns when faced with these shots and they are all ego based.
‘ What if I duff this a foot, I’ll look like a right tit’ (dent in the ego)
‘ What if I make a pigs ear out of this and ruin my round (dent in the ego)
‘ What sort of idiot cant chip’ (dent in the ego)
It’s the fear of hurting our ego that keeps us in this thinking pattern. As I said with acceptance, nothing is off limits here. Ego will be left at the door…
And that’s it for now.
So, if this process works, I’ll be a better golfer no doubt.
If it doesn’t and I carry on yipping a few, I’ll still shoot good scores but with a few yips chucked in.
Both are fine but I know which one I would slightly prefer….
If you are interested in my journey, stick your email in the above and you’ll also get a free EBook for your troubles..
I would also love to hear from you if you are having a similar issue…. (Contact form above)
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