Helping Golfers Overcome the Yips

Helping Golfers Overcome the Yips

How to Play Through Yips

On the golf course, there is a four-letter word that most golfers are in secret agreement that should never be uttered… YIPS!

The mere mention of the word strikes fear in many golfers as if saying the word “yips” will somehow infect their game. Fear plays a big part in overcoming the yips.

When golfers have the yips, their fear fosters intrusive thoughts, negative expectations, and unproductive emotions that keep them trapped in the yips cycle.

When you have the yips, fear is ever-present, such as the fear of failure, making mistakes, being judged negatively by others, embarrassment, dropping in the rankings, and the fear that the yips will last forever.

Fear changes the way you think. Instead of focusing on a strategy for a shot and putting your plan into action, your mind is inundated with negative thoughts such as:

  • “I hope I don’t yip again.?”
  • “What if I miss another easy putt?”
  • “What is wrong with me?”
  • “I can’t sink a putt to save my life!” 

When you continually focus on negative thoughts, those thoughts become a self-fulfilling process.

For example, if you constantly tell yourself that you can’t sink a 5-foot putt, you will increasingly miss putts when you are five feet away from the hole.

In addition, fearful, intrusive thoughts cause golfers to feel uneasy before they swing or strike the ball. The anxiety over what “might happen” creates increased muscle tension that can cause a golfer to “hiccup” or “yip” in the middle of their swing.

To further compound the problem, every time a golfer yips, they view it as evidence that their golf game is lost forever.

The first step in overcoming the yips is to deal with your underlying fears. Dealing with fear allows your muscles to loosen, helps you regain your focus, and allows you to swing the club freely. 

PGA golfer Lucas Glover battled through 10 years with the yips. 

In 2009, Glover won the US Open Championship and was ranked 15th in the world. During the next six years, the yips caused Glover to plummet to world No. 634.

Glover describes the yips as a lack of control.

GLOVER: “You don’t have much control over your hands, don’t have much control over your stroke. The closer you get to the hole, the worse it becomes.” 

In 2023, Glover started working with former Navy SEAL and yips expert Jason Kuhn. Since working with Kuhn, Glover has worked his way through the yips, won two tournaments in 2023 (the Wyndham Championship and the FedEx St. Jude Championship, and climbed the rankings to 34th in 2024.

GLOVER: “[Jason] walked me through a process about how to attack it instead of being scared of it. It freed my brain, my mind, and my stroke up … it’s actually become fun again to go practice, to go play, to actually putt instead of being fearful.

It’s been a life-changer for me so far. I never lost too much faith and always thought if I could just figure out a way to beat this putting thing that I’d be back where I could be.”

Glover overcame the yips by first dealing with the fear. Instead of being afraid of all the potential negative consequences of the yips, if you acknowledge the fear and understand you can work through the fear, you can free up your mind and stroke, overcome the yips, play better golf, and enjoy the game in the process.

Make a fear list. What exactly do you fear about missing putts? Are you afraid that your golf game will never improve? Not play to your potential? Do you fear the yips will prevent you getting to the next level? 

Afterwards, examine if your fear is true. In other words, create a counter-argument to dispel that fear. Breaking down fears helps you break down barriers.

Related Golf Psychology Articles

Breaking The Golf Putting and Chipping Yips Cycle

Breaking the Golf Yips Cycle

“Breaking the Yips Cycle” video and workbook program helps you overcome frustration with your putting, chipping or pitching. Learn how to improve your mental game and overcome fear so that you can putt and chip freely and consistently without the yips. Get Dr. Cohn’s mental game secrets to overcoming the yips on the course and playing more freely in competition.

“I wanted to tell you I have broken out of the yips short putt issues. I have won 2 of the last 3 competitions. Right now, my putting confidence is sky-high. I HAD the putt yips for the past 6 years. I contribute the success to two of your drills. First, focus hard on the hole, forget about all else. It took a while to get the 100% focus, but I could see the results coming. Your advice ‘Let go and trust your ability’ gave immediate results. Wow what a relief. Having putted for so long under yip pressure, I now feel I can be put under extreme pressure to win the club championship. I now look forward to short putts.” 
~Ian Dodd

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