We all know golf is very much a mental game. The brain has a profound effect on the results of each and every one of our shots. A fine example is to look more closely at a common problem like the yips. If you don't already know, the yips are involuntary wrist and arm twitches right before impact, which can affect anything from chipping to those three footers impossible. Derek Ingram, a CPGA Professional, says the worst part about the yips is that it will ultimately affect a players entire game. Imagine everything from one-foot putts to drives off the tee, spraying everywhere. You watch the nightmare unfold in front of you as your handicap climbs 5-10 strokes.
It starts with a few misses and then starts to play with your mind a little bit, then you start worrying about it happening again and slowly the fear takes a hold of you. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy. You game slowly gets worse and worse, and instead of trying to simply make a putt , youre now more focused on how bad youll look when you miss it such a short one.
When putting, the brain plays a huge part. Judging distances, imagining line and break, developing feel, not to mention the whole basics of actually performing the shot itself is all performed by the brain. These facts explain why so much can go wrong. The yips will affect players who second guess themselves. These bad thoughts get sent to the brain, and the brain attempts a last minute fix that results in a slight twitch at impact. The yips are an outcome of the negative self-talk. The cure to your yips then becomes stopping your self-talk and trusting your stroke again. This will take time however. or not giving your brain enough time to think something is wrong in the first place.
I personally have had the yips, I went through them throughout the season in 2005. My game suffered. It was embarrassing to go out and play golf with my friends. I tried every putting style you could think of, cross-handed, the claw, split handed, open stance, left-handed, belly putters and chin putters. I still trembled when looking at a three-footer. It soon became apparent that I had a serious problem when these yips progressed to my lag putts too. I needed to find help, and fast.
I started on the practice green; I focused on completing a stroke without yipping. It took awhile because even after practice, when it came to the real thing on the course, the fear would creep back in again. I started with the absolute basics, eyes on the ball, accelerating stroke. I did this for hours on five foot putts. I started to gain a little confidence in my stroke and progressed to longer putts. If I found myself second guessing my line, I would reset everything so that I felt comfortable and performed my stroke. I continued to practice this for about two weeks. I began testing myself on the course and really focused on being confident with my line and stroke. It took a couple more weeks to be comfortable but I eventually got my putting stroke back on track.
The yips suck, period. It will take a lot of dedication and commitment to get rid of them, take your stroke back to the basics to do it get your confidence back, and be patient. I do have a couple other drills for the yips , check them out.