The Mental Edge 31 Mar 2023

31 Mar 2023

Mental Edge Newsletter

Helping You Gain A Mental Edge

15 Ideas To Beat The Yips So That You Can Perform More Freely

How can I beat the yips?

The yips can impact any golfer at any level of the game and become a serious problem.  It can also impact athletes across many sports.  For the purpose of this article however I’m going to stick to golf and highlight that there is some HOPE if you do suffer from this debilitating condition.

In golf, the yips tends to hamper a lot of golfers when they have short putts to hole, some find it difficult to when they are faced with a chip and a smaller number also suffer from full swing yips.  The yips means that the golfer, cannot stroke a putt or swing a club with freedom, they’ll often hesitate and experience jerky movements.

It often means a short putt from 1-2 feet away can feel more challenging to a golfer than a long and tight tee shot.  The golfer frequently ends up gripping the club too tightly and tries to over-control the club head on the back swing causing inconsistent and frustrating results.  Overthinking then ensues instead of letting the putter go back and through with trust.

If we think of classic examples of the yips, I remember Ernie Els in the 2016 US Masters.

Ernie I’d imagine was anxiety ridden and tormented for a long time after this occurrence.  To some people the yips means they quit their sport or play on without a lot of joy.

There is hope however, if you gain a better understanding of how the yips develop and learn about the different mental strategies you could employ to help yourself.

5 tips for yips sufferers:

  1. Don’t fall into the trap of simply changing your equipment and technique time and again in desperation to overcome the yips.
  2. Become resourceful, push any negative emotions to one side and look at your options objectively.
  3. Understand that the yips are a psychological problem, analyse away from the golf course what traps you keep falling into on your journey to putting, chipping or swing with freedom.
  4. The yips for many is caused by having an outcome focus which results in fear of failure or a fear of embarrassing yourself, therefore seek to focus on the process instead
  5. Past traumatic memories can play a part in the yips at a subconscious level.   

BONUS TIP – Why not listen to this this weeks episode of the Demystifying Mental Toughness podcast!

The “yips” is a term commonly used in golf.  It describes sudden and unexplained losses of fine motor skills which impact on putting strokes and golfers chipping action.  It is argued that somewhere between 32 and 47% of serious golfers have been affected by the yips at some point.  The yips can be a very complex challenge to overcome where many golfers simply change technique and equipment numerous times.  Sports psychologists are advocates of the use of hypnosis, relaxation and visualisation techniques, as well as carefully thought out practice routines to help golfers regain confidence and trust in their putting stroke. 

In this bitesize episode, my colleague Dr Alessia Bruno tells you more about the yips, what happens in the brain as well as offering you some hope if you experience this debilitating condition, where she refers to techniques such as Brainspotting and EMDR as a way to help you enjoy your golf or sport again.


Sam Snead Quote: Rattlesnake


David Charlton Sports Psychologist

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Online Sports Psychologist | Mental Performance Coach who supports many highly motivated athletes, young and old, developing their skills or who are already highly skilled so that they gain a mental edge and get the most from their talent across the globe from USA/Canada to Great Britain and Ireland to UAE, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.    

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence

Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast

Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub 

Author of The Mental Edge

With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to transfer their skills from training to competitive situations, under pressure.

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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