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Chip Your Yips!

20 APR 2022

Chip Your Yips: 

 
“Ninety percent mental ten percent skill.” Who actually said that anyway? Regardless, that’s what “they” tell us is the key to success in this game we love so much.  

 
Golf is an individual sport. You cannot rely on anyone but yourself to play well. While you’re on the course, you’re competing against a field of players with a similar skillset as you; however, often, your biggest competition is yourself. If you’re unlucky enough to get the yips and don’t lie; we’ve all been there at some point, then we’re here to help. Here are some tried and true tips to chip away the yips. 

 

The yips are a real medical diagnosis; however, many golfers consider any mental block a version of the yips. 

 

“In some people, the yips are a type of focal dystonia, a condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions during a specific task. It's most likely related to overuse of a certain set of muscles, like writer's cramp. Anxiety worsens the effect.” (source: mayoclinic.org) 

 

Now, most people associate the yips with putting, which is true, but it can happen with any facet of your game. Danielle Kang had the yips with her driver through the 2017-2018 season, and she missed eight out of nine cuts. Kang stood over the ball for minutes before hitting it and blasting drives OB. The condition left her in tears on the 15th tee of a tournament because she had mentally checked out and couldn’t do it anymore.  

 

Brett Beyba of King Valley Golf Club said it best, “Some of us become so anxious and self-aware that we get in our own way. It is important to work through that. Focus on feel, not mechanics. Don’t let yourself get in the way.” 

 

Yes, it is easier said than done, but sometimes you need to go back to square one to find your way swing. If you can find it in yourself to put the work in and work through the feel of it all, you’ll find yourself getting back on track.  

A non-yips example of heading back to square one happens a lot in golf. Have you ever seen a tour pro do something and want to try to incorporate the same thing into your swing? You try it for a couple of rounds, it works great, and then suddenly, BAM! Your drive is gone. When that happens, it’s best to go back to your original swing and start from scratch, rebuilding it to a place you’re comfortable and hitting it straight. From that perspective, curing the yips is no different from switching up techniques. Put in the work, and you’re cured. 

 
The realistic news is, getting back to square one takes time. Summer is short, and you won’t have time to get rid of the yips before your next grudge match. Scott Reycraft from ClubLink has some advice: 

 

“I had the yips in high school when I was on the school team. I'm left-handed, so I went right-hand low for a while. When you change the technique, you don't lose feel completely. But you need a change that makes it uncomfortable enough to forget about the result and concentrate on the stroke. Practicing from the other side does that too.” 

 

Keep your chin up. Most golfers go through some form of the yips at a point. The best way to chip away your yips is to bring it back to the basics and work through the feels, trying not to get in your own way and just enjoy the game!