How to fight off the yips
The yips can break a golfer mentally, which leads to giving up golf altogether.
Imagine, for a couple of months you are playing some of your best golf of your life and it all unraveled a few weeks later. An effortless swing turns into a mechanical forced stroke. What was once easy now seems scary.
The memories of past successes are overtaken by thoughts of inaccuracy, missed opportunities, inability to make easy shots, lack of enjoyment and failure.
The yips don’t just affect your performance during a round of golf, the yips have long lasting mental effects after you leave the golf course.
Rarely does a golfer let go of a round dominated by the yips after they leave the golf course. Thoughts about the yips will pervade their mind in the club house, during the drive home and many hours afterwards.
The yips elicit intense negative emotions for a prolonged period of time. This is why the yips have such a stronghold on your mind and it seems impossible to overcome.
The yips have beleaguered PGA golfer Brendon Todd for over a year. Todd considered retirement a year ago before winning back-to-back Tour events; the 2019 Bermuda Championship (-24) and 2019 Mayakoba Golf Classic (-20).
Before rebounding from the yips, Todd missed 37 of 41 cuts on the PGA Tour and had difficulty breaking 80 for a round.
Todd, who had last won a PGA Tour event at the 2014 Byron Nelson Classic, started the year ranked No. 2006 in the world and was hitting the ball out of bounds on a regular basis.
Todd admitted to battling full-swing yips which decimated his play in tournaments.
TODD: “I had the full-swing yips. I was hitting 4- and 5-irons out of bounds, 3-woods out of bounds. You’re frustrated because you work hard and you lose a ball on the fourth hole and you go, ‘Oh my, god, why is this happening again?’”
Todd acknowledged the connection between the physical and mental parts of the yips.
TODD: “It starts physical, then it becomes mental, and you got to put both pieces back together, which is easier said than done. Then (the swing) comes back physically and then mentally, and I’m back being the player I was.”
Though Todd believes overcoming the yips is a matter of fixing your swing first, rebounding from the yips requires that you overcome fear and over control first.
Golfers who are stuck in the yips cycle overthink and over-analyze. Rather than trusting their swing, these golfers over control and guide their swing.
The solution is not about changing your instructor or getting new equipment. If you do not deal with over-thinking and over-analyzing, the yips will continue to have a stronghold on your game.
Winning Out over the Yips:
Yes, the yips may start with a bad round of putting, chipping, or ball striking, but it becomes mental very quickly when you are afraid to repeat a bad outing.
First, you have to identify and overcome your specific sources of fear. Most of the time, it’s about embarrassment or not playing to your potential.
The next step is to get back to swinging freely and not over controlling or over thinking what the club is doing. You can’t gain confidence until you learn to swing the club freely.
And understand that the yips are not all or none: you have it or you don’t. No, the yips can come and go during a round of golf.