Beat The Yips With These Simple Tips
The yips is a disease that affects the cognitive process of the brain and disrupts fine motor movement of the body. Golfers are predominantly affected by the disease on short putts, but can also be affected on other shots.
The disease has ruined the careers of numerous professional golfers, and has forced many golfers to quit the game all together. According to the Mayo Clinic, 33-to-48 percent of all serious golfers have experienced the yips, but there’s hope. This disease can be treated with a simple remedy that I have outlined in the paragraphs below.
As with any recovery program, the first step is acceptance. Golfers must accept the fact that they have a cognitive problem that hinders their ability to make short putts. Many golfers who suffer from the yips have tried various grips, putters, techniques, etc., but have not addressed the root cause of the problem, the mind. Once golfers have accepted the fact that the yips are a byproduct of faulty thinking, they can begin a process to treat the problem.
Committing to the Process
The second step is commitment. Committing to a long-term improvement plan is essential in overcoming the yips. The process that I recommend includes developing a pre-shot routine, selecting small targets and making appropriate choices to give oneself the best chance possible.
Pick Small Targets
By selecting small targets, golfers can narrow their focus, providing better accuracy and greater results. An archest aims at the center of the bull’s-eye, and even though he may not always hit the bulls-eye, he almost always hits the larger target.
In golf, picking a blade of grass or a discolored piece of the cup can narrow a golfer’s focus, allowing them to more frequently hit the larger target, the hole. Taking practice strokes while looking at the target and holding an image of the target while making the stroke are sure ways of eliminating the possibility of negative thoughts creeping into the mind. This technique can allow a golfer to find comfort during stressful situations.
On breaking putts, it may be beneficial to pick a target outside of the hole (as shown above), creating a straight putt and allowing gravity to carry the ball to the hole.
Spend more time looking at the target to capture a mental picture of where you want the ball to go.
In practice, putt while looking at the target. This will immediately change your focus from an internal thought process to an external one. Being more aware of the target is the single most valuable thing that you can do for you golf game.
Make the Choice to Putt Well
“Whether you see yourself making the putt or missing it, you are correct.”
As human beings, one of our greatest assets is the power of free will. In putting, we have two choices. We can either think positively of what we intend to do or we can think negatively of what we fear might happen. The fear of failure is a crippling mental thought that can destroy any golfer. I assume we can all agree that it makes sense to focus positively on what we intend to do. The choice of visualizing oneself making putts comes down to a golfer’s commitment to the target and their faith to allow it to happen.
Note: Those who suffer from the yips often times are more fearful of missing than they are excited by the possibility of making a putt. Embarrassment and verbal harassment from their playing partners are often times the reason for such fear.
Press the Reset Button
If a negative thought enters your mind you must STOP and start over, even if it happens after you address the ball and are almost ready to make a stroke. This is critical in the beginning because you will need to break the habit of continuing with the putt regardless of negative thinking. As you continue with this process, the negative thoughts will begin to disappear and you won’t have to restart as often. Soon you will have more confidence and be putting like you have always thought you should.
Good luck and congratulations on becoming a better putter and overcoming the dreaded yips.