How To Stop the Yips in Golf Once and For All

How To Get Rid of the Yips: The Ultimate Guide

There’s nothing like the rush of hitting that perfect drive, the satisfaction of sinking a long putt, and the camaraderie that comes with a day on the course… and there’s nothing like the frustration of erratic swings and missed shots caused by the dreaded "yips".

What if I told you that there are things you can do to totally eliminate these card-wrecking spaz attacks? It’s true; there are indeed many different ways to kick the yips to the curb, and this article is going to lay them all out for you.

In this ultimate golfer’s guide, we're going to delve into the world of golf's most notorious nemesis – the yips – and equip you with the mental and physical strategies you need to get rid of the yips once and for all.

Let's start at the beginning by understanding exactly what the yips are and the havoc they can wreak on a golfer's game.

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What Are the Yips?

The yips are like the ghosts that haunt golfers' dreams. They're those involuntary jerks, twitches, or freezing sensations that disrupt your swing or putt. Just when you need precision and control, the yips sneak in to make a mess of things.

Forms of the Yips

The yips don't discriminate; they manifest in various forms. You've got the infamous "putting yips," where a simple six-foot putt feels like an insurmountable obstacle. Then there's the "chipping yips," which turn routine chips into nerve-wracking endeavors. We'll explore these in more detail shortly.

Identifying Yips Triggers

Imagine you're on the green, a critical putt to win the hole, and then it happens – the yips strike. But why? Let's unravel some common triggers.

The yips are sneaky, often triggered by specific situations or mental states. Common culprits include high-pressure moments, fear of failure, or even just overthinking your shot. Traumatic past experiences from previous devastating yips can also trigger the yips, flying into your mind and distracting you just as you’re getting ready to strike.

So the big question arises: “What the hell can I do about all this?” Learn mind control; that is, control over your own mind. Let’s move onto some mental strategies proven to strengthen your mind and therefore stop the yips.

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Mind Over Yips: 5 Mental Strategies to Stop the Yips

Now that we've got a grip on what the yips are and what causes them, it's time to explore how to overcome these mental roadblocks.

The mental side of golf is often an underestimated but crucial aspect of the game; many don’t realize it's where many battles with the yips are won or lost. When practiced consistently, the following powerful techniques can help you regain control over your mind, and therefore your game, and banish the yips as a result.

Visualization: Unlocking Your Golfing Imagination

Visualization is like creating a mental movie of your perfect golf swing or putt. It involves closing your eyes, taking a deep breath, and vividly picturing every detail of your ideal shot. You can see the ball's trajectory, feel the club's grip in your hands, and even hear the satisfying sound of the ball dropping into the cup.

Why is visualization so potent? Because your brain doesn't distinguish between a real experience and a vividly imagined one. By repeatedly visualizing successful shots, you're essentially training your brain and muscle memory to recreate those ideal movements when you're on the course.

Visualization is key to helping you eliminate doubt and enhance your focus, turning those yips-inducing moments into opportunities for success.

Positive Self-Talk: Your Silent Weapon

Positive self-talk involves replacing self-doubt and negativity with encouraging and affirming thoughts. For example, instead of saying, "Don't mess up this putt," you switch to, "I've got this, and I know how to sink this putt."

Your subconscious mind is a powerful force that can influence your actions. When you feed it positive thoughts and affirmations, it boosts your self-confidence and self-belief. As a result, you're more likely to execute your shots with conviction and control.

Next time you find yourself on the green with the yips looming, remind yourself of your past successes, focus on the process rather than the outcome, and maintain a mindset of determination and positivity. Your self-talk can transform your mental state from one of anxiety to one of unwavering confidence.

Breathing Exercises: Control the Breath

In the high-pressure world of golf, your breath is a criminally overlooked asset that can be your best friend. Controlled, conscious breathing is a simple yet potent tool to combat the yips.

Before each shot, take a moment to inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to expand, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This deliberate breathing pattern helps to reduce tension, clear your mind, and regain composure.

Breathing exercises work for a number of reasons, mainly because they trigger the body's relaxation response, reducing the production of stress hormones and promoting a sense of calm. By incorporating deep breaths into your pre-shot routine, you can create a mental space that is more conducive to focused and controlled swings.

Practicing breathing exercises off the course as part of your daily routine can also be equally beneficial as it can shift your mind into a relaxed, clear state every day. These effects compound over time, and will positively impact your overall performance on the course.

If you’re just getting started with breathing exercises, I strongly recommend the Wim Hof Method breathing. Try it out and let us know your experience in the comments!

Pre-Shot Routine: Your Anchor in Turbulent Waters

One of the most effective ways to combat the yips is by establishing a consistent pre-shot routine. This routine serves as your anchor, a series of steps that you perform before every shot, helping to create a sense of familiarity and control.

A typical pre-shot routine might include:

  • Addressing the ball from behind and visualizing the shot.
  • Taking a practice swing to feel the tempo.
  • Aligning the clubface and checking your stance.
  • Taking a deep breath to calm nerves.
  • Trusting the process and executing the shot.

A solid pre-shot routine is so powerful because it provides structure and consistency to your game. By following the same steps before each shot, you reduce the likelihood of anxiety creeping in.

Your routine becomes a trusted ritual that can help minimize the impact of the yips and ensure you approach each shot with confidence.

Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome: The Key to Flow

It's easy to get caught up in the outcome – sinking that crucial putt or nailing a drive down the fairway. However, fixating on results can be a recipe for the yips. Instead, shift your focus to the process of making a good swing or stroke.

Concentrate on the aspects of your shot that are within your control – your setup, posture, and tempo. Visualize the perfect execution of your swing, not the destination of the ball. By detaching from the outcome and immersing yourself in the process, you free your mind from anxiety and create a state of flow.

Why is process-oriented thinking effective? It helps you stay present and in the moment. When you're fully engaged in executing the shot, there's less room for doubt and fear to creep in. Over time, this mindset can lead to more consistent and controlled swings, even in high-pressure situations.


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3 Physical Adjustments to Stop the Yips

Sometimes, the solution to the yips isn't just in your head – it's in your grip, stance, and alignment.  Physical adjustments can work wonders in banishing the yips.

Let’s move on to actionable tips and techniques to improve your grip, perfect your stance, and align yourself for yip-free shots.

Improving Your Grip

Your grip on the club is the foundation of a successful golf swing. A proper grip promotes control and minimizes the risk of yips-related mistakes. Here's how to enhance your grip:

  • Neutral Grip: Start with a neutral grip, where the V-shape formed by your thumb and forefinger points towards your trailing shoulder (for right-handed golfers, this is the right shoulder). This position encourages a square clubface at impact.
  • Pressure Points: Pay attention to the pressure points of your grip. Your left hand (for right-handed golfers) should apply more pressure with the fingers, while your right hand should have a firm but lighter grip. This balance helps maintain control without excessive tension.
  • Interlock or Overlap: Experiment with interlocking or overlapping your fingers to find the grip that feels most comfortable and secure. Both grips have their proponents, so choose the one that suits you best.

Perfecting Your Stance

Your stance sets the stage for a controlled and balanced swing. Here's how to perfect it:

  • Balanced Weight: Distribute your weight evenly between both feet. This balance helps you maintain stability throughout your swing.
  • Shoulder Width: Position your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. A wider stance can provide more stability for longer clubs, while a narrower stance is suitable for shorter clubs.
  • Foot Alignment: Ensure that your feet are parallel to the target line. This alignment helps with proper hip rotation during the swing.
  • Knee Flex: Slightly flex your knees to promote a relaxed and athletic stance. Avoid locking your knees, which can restrict movement.

Alignment for Yip-Free Shots

Proper alignment is essential for accurate shots. Here's how to align yourself effectively:

  • Target Alignment: Pick a specific target or target area in the distance and align your body, clubface, and feet towards it. Imaginary lines connecting your feet, hips, and shoulders should all point at or parallel to the target.
  • Intermediate Targets: To improve alignment, consider selecting an intermediate target—a spot a few feet in front of your ball on the target line. Use this point as a reference for your alignment.
  • Clubface Alignment: Ensure that your clubface is square to the target line. A misaligned clubface can lead to off-target shots, increasing the likelihood of yips-related mistakes.
  • Visualize the Line: Visualize a straight line from your ball to the target and imagine your shot following that line. This mental image can help you commit to your alignment.

By making these physical adjustments to your grip, stance, and alignment, you'll create a more solid foundation for your golf swing. These elements contribute to improved control, consistency, and accuracy in your shots, reducing the likelihood of succumbing to the yips during crucial moments on the golf course. Practice these adjustments regularly to make them second nature in your game.

When To Seek Professional Help

When the yips refuse to budge, it might be time to call in the pros. Let's discuss three instances when seeking professional guidance can be the game-changer you need.

Persistent and Severe Yips

If you've been struggling with the yips for an extended period, and they are severely impacting your game, it's time to consider professional assistance. Persistent and severe yips can be mentally and emotionally draining, and they may require expert guidance to break the cycle.

Recurring Yips Across Different Shots

If you find that the yips are affecting various aspects of your game, such as putting, chipping, and even full swings, it could indicate a deeper issue. A golf professional or sports psychologist can help identify and address the underlying causes.

Failed Self-Help Attempts

If you've tried various self-help techniques and strategies to overcome the yips without success, it's a clear signal that a fresh perspective is needed. Professionals can offer tailored solutions and objective assessments.

Seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness, but a proactive step toward improving your golf game and regaining your confidence. It's an investment in your enjoyment of the sport and your ability to overcome the challenges posed by the yips. Their expertise can make a significant difference in your game and overall golfing experience.

Blair O
Featured: Putting Gate Drill with Blair O'Neal

5 Practice Routines and Drills to Stop the Yips

Practice makes perfect, and in this section, we'll outline drills and routines from our roster as well as from our pals over at GoGolf365 that can help you kiss the yips goodbye. It’s vital that you incorporate these drills and practice routines into your training regimen, focusing on consistency and gradual improvement.

Regular practice, combined with a positive mindset, can help you regain confidence and conquer the yips over time. Remember that patience and persistence are key to success in overcoming this challenging aspect of golf.


How to Practice Your Chipping with John Novosel, Jr.

Learn valuable chipping tips from golf pro John Novosel, Jr. and Marcus Westerberg to start nailing short game shots. Discover why mixing up your chipping practice with varying targets is the key to improving your technique and reading the greens effectively. Say goodbye to standard chipping routines along with the yips.


Putting Drill for Alignment: Putting Gate Drill With Blair O’Neal

Enhance your putting alignment to keep the yips at bay with Blair O'Neal's "Putting Gate Drill." Using just two tees, this drill sharpens alignment, consistency, and your stroke for short putts. Learn the technique favored by Tiger Woods to ensure a straight back-and-through stroke. Build confidence, make the reps count, and boost your short putt success on the course.


Legs Crossed Drill for Bunker Shots with Brandon Stooksbury

Eliminate bunker yips with Brandon Stooksbury's "Legs Crossed Drill." Discover how crossing your legs during setup helps stabilize your lower body, leading to more consistent and controlled bunker shots. Say goodbye to erratic swings and hello to precise sand entries. 


Eyes Over the Ball for Putting Consistency with Brandon Stooksbury

Master the art of putting consistency and toss your putting yips out the window with Brandon Stooksbury's simple tip: Keep your eyes directly over or slightly inside the golf ball at setup. Discover a quick test to ensure proper alignment and enhance your ability to start the ball on the desired line. Improve your putting accuracy, gain control over your game, and get one step closer to never hitting a putting yip again.

Putting Drill for Speed and Distance Control: Single Hand Drill with Blair O’Neal

Improve your putting speed and distance control to help you conquer the yips with Blair O'Neal's "Single Hand Drill." Discover which hand gives you the best feel and focus on honing your dominant hand's precision. Set up an "Around the World" challenge to master hole-to-hole distance and build confidence with your Pyramid iCOR Putter. Putt like a pro and make more putts on the green.

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Featured: P3 Pharaoh Wedge


What are the main causes of the yips in golf?

The yips can result from a combination of physical tension, anxiety, past traumatic yips, and mental pressure in golf.

Can the yips affect both amateur and professional golfers?

Yes, the yips can affect golfers of all levels, from amateurs to seasoned professionals.

How long does it typically take to overcome the yips?

Overcoming the yips varies from person to person; it can take weeks, months, or even longer with consistent effort.

Are there any famous golfers who struggled with the yips?

Yes, several famous golfers, including Bernhard Langer and Ben Hogan, have battled the yips during their careers.

What is the most important piece of advice for the yips?

Focus on mental strategies, professional guidance, and consistent practice to regain control and confidence.

What is the history of yips?

The history of the yips dates back to early golf literature in the 1600s, but it gained more attention and study in the 20th century as a perplexing golfing challenge.

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Featured: Pyramid iCOR Putter, blade and mallet options

With the knowledge and strategies you've gained from this ultimate guide to stop the yips, you're now equipped to successfully face them head-on. Get ready to say goodbye to those erratic swings and missed putts and embrace your golf game with renewed confidence and a sense of fun.

The yips may have haunted you in the past, but now, you're the one in control of your golf destiny. It's time to tee off and enjoy the game like never before.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time.

Matt Stephens

Inventor, Pyramid Putter, P3 Pharaoh Wedge, iCOR Putter

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