How to Cure the Yips

Knowing how to cure the yips begins with understanding what causes it in the first place. While we'll talk about the many psycho-physiological aspects of the yips, our focus will be on what you can do to eliminate this nightmare from your game.

Anyone who has needed a cure for the yips knows that calling the experience a nightmare is not an overstatement. Many of the best players in the game suffered from the yips. In fact, it is fair to say that the yips, or a balky putter, has caused more players to prematurely leave the tour than any other reason.

Poor putting seems to be the most insidious ailment in a players game. And when poor putting devolves into the world of the "yips" it is even worse, since this experience seems uncontrollable. And in fact it is.

The very nature of the yips is an uncontrollable tremor or "flinch" in the hands while attempting to make a putt. The self-talk that accompanies the yips is often the precursor to the manifestation of the yips in one's stroke.

How do the yips really happen?

Along with a repetitive self talk that adds to the fear of the yips showing in your stroke, there are images, mostly unconscious to you, that accompany this internal dialogue/self talk. Combined, these two forces generate the physiological response in your hands.

Many studies have been done on the yips and how to cure them. Yet the attention is misdirected in most cases. The "over scientific" analysis of things doesn't necessarily lead to an understanding of how to cure the yips.

In short, the yips, or extremely poor putting, are caused by our habituated internal representations of poor putting. Our fear of missing, the conscious or unconscious expectation of a poor result, the impact of what missing the putt will mean, etc., all stimulate the yips.

In other words, our pictures, self talk and accompanying feelings about past poor putting experiences merge together and form a state which allows the yips to occur.

Change the cause and the yips are gone - forever

Understanding the basic structure of thought provides a crystal clear, laser like awareness into what you need to do to eliminate the yips from your game. What we want to do is deconstruct this state and free your attention to be available for memories and images of when you putted your best.

This is easily achieved, believe it or not. To master your mind and continue the development of your mental game is the surest way to cure the yips or any other "ailment" in your golf game. Here's a few things to use to begin to change your experience:

    Break your typical routine - now this seems strange to recommend to a golfer, to break your routine, but in this case it's critical. The sequence of behaviors that lead to the experience of the yips must be altered at first. You want to break the pattern that set things up.

    Stand behind your ball - looking at the hole, visualize the line the ball will roll on, and see it drop in the hole at the perfect speed. Move into address position and get comfortable over the ball.

    Recall the last time - (and it doesn't matter if it was a year ago) that you made a smooth putting stroke. This means to see, hear and feel these memories intensely. Settle into this memory for a few seconds. Make your stroke.

Needless to say you will want to practice this process on the putting green prior to your rounds or at times when you are not standing over a putt on the course. At least until you have made this process a bit more automatic.

This approach to cure the yips is very likely out of your comfort zone, which is great. Repeat this process for a little while, perhaps a few rounds, and then reintegrate your pre-putt routine with these new additions.

In the Minding Your Game mental game course I have over 20 pages dedicated to being a legend on the greens. I mean this seriously. Regardless of your current putting prowess, or lack thereof, you will learn mental game techniques that take your putting to a whole new level. It's worth a look as it will, without question, cure the yips.

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