The yips are afflictions that no one can trifle with or disregard because they are a common phenomenon in golf and other sports/games. Furthermore, they are capable of ending even the best player’s vocations or constraining them from taking part or enjoying their most pleasurable interests. The yips can make a payer miss chip shots by a large margin and even more commonly miss sinking a putt from within a foot of the hole.
Moreover, the yips do not afflict only amateur or novice golf players, as it affects the professional golfers. Many of them attest to battling the dreaded yips on the putting green at one time or the other, with some of the most famous names to have come out being Ben Hogan and Bernhard Langer. You will not also come across a golf club without its share of members whose handicaps have hit the roof because they developed raw nerves.
What are these dreaded yips? Is it possible to cure the yips? Read on to find out how to cure the yips.
What Are The Yips?
The yips is a term popularized by a former golf champion turned golf coach, Tommy Armour, in his quest to explain the difficulties behind his tournament play exit. Golfers and other sports persons describe the yips as accompanying jitters, jerks, twitches, and staggers, among other afflictions. The feelings are more like episodes and sometimes persevere, forcing players to give up their passion for even a month before getting back on the course.
Sports psychologists, analysts, and scientists are unsure whether the yips are a mental disorder or a neurological issue. Some think that over-use of the body’s fine movements can lead to focal dystonia, which is more like a writer’s cramp.
Others look at the yips from a psychological angle with suggestions that the thinking pattern could be the cause. Still, others have the assumption that it afflicts players with certain personalities, with the more susceptibility being the perfectionists.
Many of the players suffer the yips, mainly when they are executing their swing. They invest too much thought into their movements and the process that leads to things they are trying to avoid, happening. It could be because the thoughts veered off to focus on other less important issues, especially when they are taking the shot, causing choking. Many of the players do not forget the exact moments and the first time they got the yips.
Despite all the research carried out on the causes of the yips, there still exist no clear reasons why they afflict the players and why they happen unexpectedly. However, the yips are preventable and curable. In this next part of the article, we look at the different ways to cure and prevent the yips.
How to Cure the Yips in Golf
In most of the yips affliction cases, the problem affects one hand or the other but ever both of them. Some of the neurological prognosis for the issue includes injecting the players with Botox on the affected limb. Others include acupuncture, use of muscle relaxants, and change of grip tricks.
However, some of the most promising results come from treating the problem psychologically. The following tips will go a long way in helping you to eliminate the yips for good if possible.
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1. Do not think of yourself as a lousy golfer
Do not think that hitting a few drivers makes you one of the worst drivers ever to exist. Learn to forgive yourself for any bad hits, and always remember that you are not the only one ever to hit a bad drive. If you personalize things like bad hits, it will get into your subconscious and manifest itself negatively once you hit the course.
Just as it is not your fault to hit a few foul shots occasionally, acquiring yips is also not your fault. Do not stress about it because by doing so, you will only get worse. The affliction should not cause any embarrassment because you are not the first to acquire yips, nor will you be the last.
Laugh the whole misfortune off; take a few days off the course to recollect yourself, and count yourself lucky that it was not something worse like a sprain or a nasty fall. Maintain a positive attitude, and before you know it, you will beat and fix the yips.
2. Make a diagnosis of the issue
It pains to revisit the issue and relive all the painful memories created by the yips, but you must garner enough courage to face it head-on. After your mental state feels normal enough to relive the memories, the first thing to do after your mental state relives the memories is diagnosing the issue the way a doctor would do with any illness. Ask yourself the following questions to get the proper diagnosis:
- Do I get the yips issue when I use all the golf clubs or just some specific ones?
- What was going through my mind just before hitting the particular shot that started the yips?
- Have I had this kind of affliction before this one? If the answer is yes, ask yourself how frequent the yips were.
- Was I in my best mood before and during the round?
- Was there something, in particular, I was saying to myself before and during the game that triggered the yips?
- Do I acquire the yips during some specific situations, such as tournament golf?
The above questions help clarify what is happening to you and why it is happening. You can start the curing process by creating an action plan.
3. Execute your action plan
After you diagnose the issue and create an action plan, it is now time to execute it. In many instances, people reliving the yips memories prefer to avoid the problem hoping that it will go away or fix itself. However, ignoring the issue is not a good strategy, and it will not work to resolve the issue.
If one hand starts to twitch or misbehave while you are about to take a swing, do not let go first but try tightening the grip on the club with the good hand. Allow the affected one to have a looser grip on the club. If certain clubs are the problem, you can try to switch grips.
You could also try to make the strokes in a slower motion to try to conquer the problem. Start by swinging slowly and build up speed if you feel more comfortable. Rehearse this motion several times until you can manage to swing with no side effects or discomforts from the yips.
If the yips get to you during the long game, try to chip the ball forward off the front of the tee in a straight line. If the yips occur during a full swing, try to tell yourself that all you want is to bunt forward the ball. Then, make the chip become a full shot by hitting through harder. The most important thing is not to give up.
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How to Cure the Yips in Putting
If in your diagnosis you realize that you get the yips while putting, try the following curing techniques.
1. Work on your breathing
Many golfers forget to focus on their breathing because their fixation is on the swing and sinking a putt. Controlled breathing during a round plays a considerable role in ensuring that you are loose enough and tension free for anything on the course.
If you hold in your breath for long without letting it out, you become tense, and you end up transferring the same tenseness to your putting. Take long, deep breaths, exhale, and relax. The following practice routine might come in handy to help you beat the yips.
- Try to read the putt as being expected by picking your aim line and the landing spot
- Breathe in deeply before replacing your mark by setting the ball down
- Try to focus on the target you chose when standing over the ball without thinking much about anything else
- Make a few practice strokes without taking your focus away from the target
- Lastly, make one final look at the putter, breath in deeply and make the stroke
Focusing more on the target and breathing without thinking much about the yips will put you in a more relaxed state that will enable you to make a more fluid stroke. On the other hand, if you forget to focus on a steady breathing rhythm and allow your mind to think more about what the yips are doing to you, you will end up with a lousy stroke.
2. Get a new putter
Getting a new putter might also help to cure the yips. Some superstitious players that get issues with their old equipment believe that replacing them with new ones might rid them of the old equipment demons. Though this might all be in the head, switching to a new putter can actually lead to smoother strokes with more confidence.
However, switching from an old putter to a new one does not mean that you change your putter from a mallet to the blade or vice versa, as that would mess up your stroke even more than your old putter. A blade putter has a toe hang that works perfectly with the arc stroke where you open and close the putter.
On the other hand, a mallet putter is a perfect choice for a golfer that prefers straight through, straight back putting. Switching from your usual style to a different one might feel awkward and lead to disappointing results.
Additionally, if you still want to keep your old putter, try the following strategies to help you out with the yips issue.
- Try changing your putter weights
- Make a new putter grip addition
- Add lead tape to your putter to make it heavier if it does not have interchange weights
- Try out a few putting drills
Another way to overcome the yips if it affects you during the short games is to practice a lot from the short-range. Make three footers in a row by starting with 10, before moving to 20, then 30, 40 and so on to test how high you can go without anything slowing you down.
You can also practice hitting your putts on the putting green with other clubs besides the putter. The reason for doing this is to make your mind believe that you know what you are doing and you are conversant with your way around the green. Try using the irons, wedges, woods and hybrids before picking your putter up to sink your putts in the best way you can.
3. Try using a new putting style
Trying a new style might also be the reason you need for curing the yips. If you are a cross-handed putter, try doing it the traditional way for a change and vice versa. You can also try using different grips such as interlocked or claw fingers. If you are using a short putter, you could use a longer one or the other way round.
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Many people do not believe in hypnotherapy because they find it odd and assume that it does not work. However, if you try everything else and nothing works, you have nothing to lose by thinking outside the box. The unconscious mind runs 95% of our lives, and in most cases, the yips is mainly in the mind.
When you go into a hypnotic state, the mind becomes exceptionally impressionable, making it possible to access the parts of the mind that are inaccessible when you are awake. Hypnotherapy reprograms the unconscious mind to help you grow back your confidence and overcome the yips issue.
Wrapping it up
Focusing more on the things at hand without paying too much attention to the issue of the yips is one sure way of defeating the dread affliction. Instead of beating yourself up, and thinking that you are a failure because of the yips, try the above tricks and your story will read differently.
Once you get going with defeating the problem, you will be surprised by how much your subconscious mind controls your feel and touch for the shot. Remember to practice more on your long and short games and not to focus on your pre-shot routines.