Posted on 25th October 2019 at 16:41
I guess that most golfers have either experienced the yips or know someone who has. It’s that extraordinary phenomena where a shot is fluffed, normally when putting, or chipping and pitching from just off the green. Remember Sergio Garcia a few years ago when he took absolutely ages to hit the ball from virtually everywhere on the golf course. He would address the ball and waggle his club at least ten times or more before he hit the ball. It’s a good job he sorted that out as he played magnificently to win The Masters in 2017. Bernhard Langer was another major golfer who suffered badly with the yips and found solace in the long-handled putter.
It’s not an affliction just for golfers – even darts players get the yips as they’re unable to let go of the dart for some time. Another sport is snooker where the yips exhibits itself the same as the golfer or darts player.
“All knowledge has its origins in perception”
Leonardo Da Vinci
So, what exactly is the yips and how can you minimise the risk of getting it in the first place or getting rid of it if you’ve got it now! Well from my research and understanding the yips is a loss of confidence which in turn causes stress and anxiety. This loss of confidence or self-belief that when I’ve got a short or long putt, a chip or pitch shot from just off the green gives a golfer the signal or perception that he / she will again fluff the ball – either short or skin it across the green. Due to the quantum changes within the mind-body connection which is mainly caused by using our senses as we perceive what is or not about to happen. As this action is repeated time and time again it begins to become habitual and if assistance to manage and rid yourself of the yips is not forthcoming it becomes even more habitual.
The most important thing is to not get the yips in the first place by being focussed and attentive over every shot and using the two-box routine on every shot. And remember to breathe deeply as you step over the imaginary dividing line between the ‘Strategy Box and into the Execution Box’. You may have a slightly different routine but it’s about being in the moment, having a quiet or a neutral mind and taking 100% control of the situation.
Another way of helping to eliminate the yips is by the language you use when you inevitably talk to yourself (soliloquy). If your inner voice talks to you in a negative way, then change the words that you use to be more positive – who’s in charge of your inner voice? Begin to ask yourself positive questions prior to executing the shot by saying something like “what does a good shot look like here”? You can use this positive self-talk / question on every shot that you take to build up your levels of confidence and self-belief that you’re going to make the best possible shot within your resourceful self. In doing so you then perceive that you’re going to make a good free-flowing swing on the ball.
Take a little time out to watch the low handicap juniors play at your golf club and see that they have no fear over the ball – they decide what they’re going to do and JFDI. It seems as we get older that we’re not getting any wiser as the fear of failure creeps in and creates this self-doubt which in turn creates the yips – so be a young kid again!
Another way to rid yourself of the yips may be to have a lesson from your golf club PGA profession for the short game. He / she will be able to iron (sorry for the pun) out the bio-mechanical technique so that your using the right club and swing to be able to take a free-flowing shot on the ball. Remember to use the pre-shot routine to ensure that you’re in the moment as you take your putt or shot.
On occasion, I use hypnotherapy to remove the negative thought patterns and instil with positive thought patterns with golfers and other sports people. Hypnotherapy is a natural phenomenon where a trance (relaxed) like state is induced and creates the opportunity to make the relevant behavioural changes. We naturally hypnotise ourselves daily by being in a trance-like state for example: when we drive from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and unable to recall how we got there; being totally absorbed in a book, a film or the television and the house could burn down around our ears; or the short time just before we fall asleep and wake up. So, utilising this natural state then positive changes can be made relatively easily!
So, whether you currently have the yips or go on to have them in the future you’re now armed with the knowledge that if Sergio Garcia and Bernhard Langer can overcome them and go on to win majors then you can now beat the dreaded yips and enjoy your golf once more!
Until next week - keep it on the fairway ...
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