Nicola Stroud, Head Teaching Professional at Burnham & Berrow Golf Club is here to help you with the dreaded yips
First things first, what are “the yips”?
Definition: An involuntary muscle spasm in your wrists that occur when you are trying to perform a specific movement.
Symptoms: Muscle jerking, spasms, shaking and the feeling of being frozen or stuck.
In golf, this can occur in any part of your game, but most commonly it’s seen in chipping and putting.
Golfers with the yips will often have no problem during their practice swings but as soon as the ball is in front of them, they freeze or go into a spasm at impact. Some golfers may even find that they are fine on the practice area but get the yips solely on the course.
Ways to overcome the yips
Change your technique:
Yips in chipping - If you’re quite “handsy” in your chipping style, you’re more likely to develop the yips over a golfer who uses bigger muscles or their body to chip with. So, try a new technique that takes your hands out of the swing.
Yips in putting - There are many different types of putting grips to try that will help you take out the dominance of your wrists/hands in your putting stroke. You could also try changing the handle on your putter to a thicker one, as this will also help you to reduce wrist/hand activity.
Yips in driving – Try a different trigger for your takeaway, such as hovering your club. This technique can also be used for putting or any other time you feel frozen.
Improve your mental focus:
Reduce your anxiety of results – There are many ways to help you stay in the moment and not get ahead of yourself by worrying about the result of your shot (check out some of my previous articles for more tips on this - including how to stay calm on the golf course when things start to go wrong).
Breathe – If you haven’t read the previous article about breathing, then read it here! Imagine you have a birthday cake: smell the cake (take a large breath through your nose; then blow out your candles… As you start your slow exhale, start your backswing). This will help your rhythm.
Keep your mind full, blocking negative or useless thoughts from filtering through – If chipping or putting, say aloud “back through, back through, back through” in time with your practice swings. Build up a constant rhythm (like a mantra), keep that mantra going verbally and ALOUD (this ensures you breathe) even when you are prepping from practice swing to actual swing. Keep saying your mantra as you stand over the ball to help centre yourself, then swing, still saying your mantra aloud.
It can happen to any golfer no matter your experience or ability
If you are a golfer with the yips, then my heart goes out to you because it’s a truly devastating and confidence crushing condition – I know because I have suffered with it myself a long time ago, hence why I developed a fascination with the mental side of golf.
Having the yips is not something to ignore. Help is out there, however, the longer you leave it the harder it is to get rid of it.
If you are in need of help with your yips, chat to your local golf professional or give me a call and we can get together for a day or two and work on both your mental processes and physical technique. Once you have the right tools, suitable to your individual style and personality, you can banish the yips and start enjoying your game again!
Words by Nicola Stroud
In the second of her Mental Game Series Nicola Stroud talked about how you can keep your golf game on track for 18 holes - read the full article.