We are going to discuss the forbidden word of golf today, the Macbeth to our golf play, the career-killer, the reason for many early golf retirements. It’s the jitters, the jerk, the ultimate whiskey fingers. It’s Yips. Yips in putting is when your hands give a freak jerk and make the ball shoot of randomly. You could be an excellent driver, but yips may be reducing your eagles to double bogeys or worse. The yips have hit the legends over time, most recently Tiger Woods and Ernie Els temporarily. The pros are the worst-affected by yips and it makes the most difference to their perfect scores.
But we won’t put the fear of yips in you. Instead we want you to say it out loud. Now that we said the Name, we want to conquer the yips with you. There is no one reason or technique problem that causes yips in golf. It can either be a mental or a physical issue. No known cause is why it’s so hard to cure the yips. But there are some mental and physical drills which help you overcome this problem. In this post, we explore these conventional and maverick solutions. They might actually end up being your cure for yips.
What you will need to follow this tutorial
- Practice greens
The importance of an excellent putter is not lost on any golfer. But you need to pay special attention to the type of putter, the grip of putter and the model of putters you use. Putters are categorized by their length. We have covered how long your golf putter should be based on golfer height and swing dynamics. We reviewed the best putter for beginners and the best putter grips. Combine these three posts and you will get the right putting gear.
- Practice greens:
Perfect putting takes practice. Even in the off-season of golf, there are ways to keep your putting practice open. The best indoor putting greens help you practice the putt inside your room. Here synthetic materials simulate the feeling of golf greens. Another costlier but more authentic experience is from building a putting green in your backyard. It’s doable and provides nice entertainment when guests come home.
How to cure the yips?
Yips is the loss of finesse while putting. You might feel a twitching or jerking feeling in your wrists or hand while putting which completely disorients your aiming. Yips enjoy such power over golfers because professionals and researchers have failed to pin down one specific cause for it. We have a medley of reasons and cures.
We go into the most common causes and the cures of yips in such cases:
A few people chatter in the background while you try to make a 3-foot putt. It’s distracting maybe but not a major cause for yips. But imagine a whole crowd watching your game from the clubhouse and you trying to defend last years’ tournament trophy. Putting is suddenly impeded by shaky hands, sweating and a complete shutdown of your mind. Self-awareness will take over your bodily processes at the moment and give you the yips.
The key is to stop thinking. That’s right. When the moment comes to putt the ball into the hole, distract your mind from thinking. The strategizing right before the putting will program your body to putt well. No need to think while you putt.
A useful drill we use is to say or sing something in your mind or out loud. We prefer saying ‘Swing’ during the backswing and ‘hit’ during the downswing. This takes our minds off the hundred things that might go wrong during putting. It catches you a break from the yips.
There’s another drill that curbs overthinking and hence the yips. Focus intently on the hole. Bring your eyes back along a straight line to the golf ball and putt immediately. The mental focus on the path between the hole and the ball automatically aligns your grip and speed. Don’t give yourself time to second-guess yourself.
Some golfers have the chronic yips. This refuses to give up no matter how many putters you try or how much you calm yourself. Close to the impact, you find your wrist curling in or out. This changes the angle of the clubface and you are hit by the yips. It’s a neuron issue in the brain and known in medicine as focal dystonia. The more you practice the same swing that’s impaired by the yips, the worse it gets. It might not trigger any anxiety at all and still make it look like you were confounded into putting so wildly. Focal dystonia might affect someone even when they try putting on an indoor putting green or try the putter without any hole in sight.
Focal dystonia programs the muscles in the wrong way. So repeated putting in the same manner doesn’t help. It’s best to change the way you putt and engage new muscles. Try putting with a single hand, left or right. If right hand helps you putt well, adjust the grip such that your left hand plays minimum role in putting. Try different grip styles and get different muscles in play. Once you start putting better, use the other hand as a cosmetic touch to your personalized putting technique. Yips will no longer affect you.
You might be hitting the golf ball too hard at the point of impact. Anxiety or improper estimation of force and speed could be causing the yips. You invest very less in the backswing and then try to compromise for it by accelerating deliberately through the impact and follow through. The ball shoots right past the target and surrenders to your yips.
In the stance, stand with your leading leg up. Just like a stork waiting for its prey. The leg should be lined right above the center of the ball. When you putt, the shaft will hit the leg just as the clubhead hits the ball. So your follow-through is limited. Now you have to lengthen the backswing to get the required power. This gets you steady acceleration through the downswing.
To create the small momentum that’s just enough to putt the ball in the hole, golfers often hinge their wrist towards impact. Putting should be completely controlled by shoulders and arms. If you control the putter with hands alone, you catch the yips.
The cure to such a yip is to practice a pendulum motion. Here, your hands and shoulders create an upside-down triangle at setup. The key is to retain this formation of shoulders, arms and the hands throughout the putting stroke. The motion feels like a pendulum swing. The video below shows the golfers rocking the shoulder correctly while keeping the wrists stabilized.
Yipping could be triggered by an ultra-tight grip powered by your unhealthy PBJ breakfast. As we mentioned in the point before this, your hands are not mature enough to control the putter wisely. It has to come from the shoulders and arms. If you choke the life out of the grip, it will call in the yips and ruin your game as payback.
Lighten the grip. Grab the golf club in an ultra-light manner until it is almost ready to fall off your hands. Practice putting while increasing the grip pressure. At some pressure, the club will feel secure in your hand and yet the yips would have quit. This is the ideal grip pressure. Some coaches have suggested using an egg between your hand and the putter grip. This will deter you from squeezing too hard.
How To Cure The Yips in Putting? Here's pro tips:
You can trick the mind into putting without yips. What if you make it to putt without really meaning to? The hole can give you anxiety issues. So here’s the solution about how to cure the yips in putting:
- Draw a mental line between the ball and the target i.e. the hole.
- Fix a point somewhere on this line.
- Aim to send the ball rolling over that point.
- Do not focus on the hole. Focus only on this point.
- If you roll the ball over that point, it’s more likely to roll and fall into the hole. But the daunting sight of the hole no longer distracts you.
Yips are the dreaded malady for a golfer. Although there’s no specific cause of yips, overthinking is the most common culprit behind them. Being process-oriented during putting rather than result-oriented helps keep the brain busy. Focus on the action and not on the hole by selecting a midway target. Experiment with your putting technique to beat the failure mechanism of the body. Stopping the yips is usually a mind game over a body game. But practice helps to set the motion right.
We hope this tutorial helps you ditch the yips. For more golf hacks, turn to Ubergolfnet’s vast arsenal on all things golf.