3 Non-Mechanical Steps to Curing the Yips Forever

If the world had a heart, it broke in half for Ernie Els on Thursday’s first competitive golf hole.

Three strokes to the green and six putts later, he’s staring down at the dreaded SnowMan+1 and what would become an early journey home in his 22nd Masters Tournament appearance. Somebody get that man a Navigator!

Inexplicably painful to watch.

So what in the world causes this and HOW CAN WE FIX IT?

The yips are more of an anxiety issue than a physical one. If you watch carefully, you can see the mental breakdown unfolding for Els after the first short putt skids by.

Anxiety mounts when your expectation is unknown, and you cannot clearly predict an outcome. You’ll then overthink the motion. Golfers (especially TOUR players) always have the expectation to make those short putts. But as soon as that expectation turns to uncertainty, the left side of the brain lights up and essentially disconnects. Anxiety then takes a grapple hold of the brain. This cripples your voluntary muscles and causes the “yip,” that is sometimes visually evident and sometimes not.

Take a closer look at the first putt Els hit. You’ll see the putter leave the ground abruptly just after impact. This extra motion closes the face and low and behold, the putt missed on the left side.

HOW DO I FIX IT???

Do these three things and your yips will be a thing of the past:

1. Breathe
2. Feel the weight
3. Create a new image

BREATHE

Breathe in through the nose and inflate the diaphragm. Hold, then exhale through the mouth. The exercise must be gentle and deliberate. Put a hand on your stomach and watch it raise as you take a deep breath, inflating the belly. This is CRUCIAL. Do not breath from the chest which causes the shoulders to extend backwards. It increases tension. Then watch as your hand moves inwards on the exhale.

FEEL THE WEIGHT 

The above breathing exercise influences and supports relaxation. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Your body should feel very heavy and grounded against the earth. Let your shoulders drop further downwards with each exhale.

CREATE A NEW IMAGE 

We must reduce the “heating up” of the left brain. To do this, you have to contrast that heating action with an image on the right side of the brain. Focus on what you can control — such as seeing the club in the particular position you want it in to produce the shot at hand. For a putting yip, focus on seeing the ball striking the center of the putter face, and the putter face finishing low to the ground and on line. Think about replicating that MOTION and let the ball simply get in the way.

Put these steps into play the next time you feel anxious or “yippy” and we guarantee it’ll help calm the nerves. Drop us a line and let us know how it works for you!

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