Tips For Taming The Putting Yips!

Conquering the putting yips are among the greatest challenges any golfer can face. The uncontrollable tremor commonly associated with putting, is the one thing that can kill confidence, ruin a career and possibly even make you want to quit. Most people don’t realize it, but the yips are seen in a variety of areas of the game. Even non-golf activities where you see a high degree of small repetitive movements are prime candidates, counting surgeons and musicians among those known for the debilitating nuisance.

I spent some time with putting “yip” expert and Co-Founder of THINQ Golf, Dr. Debbie Crews, to learn a little more about the subject. According to Dr. Crews, “Some people yip to due psychological issues, while others suffer as a result of neurological problems. There are also those who fall somewhere in between.”

So if a golfer really does have the yips, what can they do to get back on track? “The key to helping long-term is to use a different motor program” says Crews. “You have to always be one step ahead. This means being willing to change gripping styles, putters, practice routines or other to adjust the way the brain processes the task. Changing frequently breaks the repetitive motor pattern giving yippers a chance to find their way again.”

With all the science, there’s still no definitive cure. However, the collection of tips below can go a long way towards keeping you having fun and in the game!

Change It Up

The first tool a golfer might find success with is a simple adjustment in grip. Changing gripping styles helps short circuit yipping motor patterns. Bernhard Langer, who has played throughout his career amidst putting challenges, won the 1985 Masters with a unique “Left Hand Low Clamp” style grip. Players, however, often find long-term success to be fleeting, requiring constant gripping changes to stay one step ahead of their yips.

Find Your Groove

Got a flinch? Get some rhythm. Some players report improvement from focusing on the cadence associated with a free flowing stroke. Download a FREE adjustable metronome app and swing to the beat. With a little trial and error you’ll quickly find the pace that feels best. Follow the beat and even count aloud to the rhythm. Taking focus away from the result, while shifting your attention to the cadence might offer a step in the right direction.

You have to always be one step ahead. This means being willing to change gripping styles, putters, practice routines or other to adjust the way the brain processes the task.

Think Happy Thoughts

People are at their best when they feel their best. The good news is simply imagining a successful outcome might help you get a leg up. It probably won’t immediately go as far as a quick change in hand placement, but will definitely serve you for the long haul.

Deepen Your Breath

Looking for a little Zen remedy? Learning to breathe deeply and consistently can help. Focus on taking full, controlled breaths through your nose both in and out. With focus on your breath and relaxation in the body, you’ll find this simple technique to be a bonafide strategy.

Play Defense

Looking to build a staunch putting game? The very nature of your practice might put you in jeopardy of developing the yips. The fact is, rolling putt after putt from the same spot constitutes the small receptive movement pattern most susceptible to development of the yips. Randomize your practice by rolling every putt from a different location. You’ll practice like you play, creating an organic, yip free environment.

Create A Distraction

For years renowned coach, Hank Haney, battled the driving yips. He found the only way to strike a tee shot without a yip was look away from the ball and talk to his students while hitting. This technique not only created less connection to the ball, but also provided a valuable distraction as his primary focus was on communication vs contact.

Break Em Up

A strategy that can be effective in chipping is to physically separate the hands on the club. Separating your hands shifts the movement from a uni-manual to a bi-manual task. Changing the connection, processes the task differently in the brain. Too drastic of a change in an area other than putting? In early 2015 PGA Tour Player Vijay Singh was seen chipping cross handed at the Northern Trust Open.

Throw In The Towel

Players fighting the yips, certainly have seen their fair share of misses. Getting overly attached to outcome can really make things worse. One thing at seems to help is caring “less.” Throw caution to the wind and see how low you can go “really trying” department. Playing a little reckless might improve performance.

Did You Know?

1.The yips are not correlated with anxiety. Anxiety may make the yips worse, but they’re not the cause.
2.Yips in putting increases 18-hole scores by an average of 4.5 strokes/round.
3. Studies show wearing ski gloves seems to help.

Notable Players Who Have Battled The Yips

Kevin Na. Sergio Garcia, Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Ian Baker Finch, David Duval, Johnny Miller.

Want to learn more about the science behind improving your mental game? Check out Dr. Crews and her team at THINQ Golf.

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