The yips, particularly with the putter is something most of us probably have experienced at one time or another.
Whether it's in the middle of your round or that last putt on eighteen with everything on the line, it's just not the pro's that experience them.
I've asked my good friend Dr. Greg Cartin, a golf performance coach who's helped golfers of all skill level including PGA Tour and Web.com Tour players talk about the putting yips.
He shares his experiences with how to over come this four leader word and start getting in the correct mindset to make more putts.
If you enjoyed this this blog post and want to get in touch with Dr. Cartin, the best way to do so is through his website Mindful Mindset.
Take it away Dr. Cartin.
The Yips – it’s one of the dreaded 4-letter words in golf.
Those of us who have experienced them know the familiar sensations that the mere mention of the word can elicit.
A scenario often plays out like this:
First, you have a large putt that you need to address.
A smooth stroke and solid read leaves you with a little less than 3 feet.
You’re supposed to make these shorter putts 100% of the time, just like on TV - right?
Your alignment seems good, your mind is clear, and out of seemingly nowhere you practically hit a shank with the flatstick!
It’s as if someone took over your arms at the last second and decided it would be funny to maneuver the putter in a way to make you barely strike the putt on the face.
What are some of the causes of this terrifying act, and how can we best get ourselves in a mindset to prevent it from recurring?
These are the questions to be explored in the following blog post.
The Reasoning Why
Why is it that we often have a long, smooth, free-flowing stroke on long putts - yet when we get to 3 feet and in - we experience such spastic movements?
If you’re like me, you think that we’re supposed to make every 3-footer, and if we miss we will experience great shame.
We think our playing partners will laugh and that we wont be able to face our families when we return home.
On the other hand, the 30-footer with 5 feet of break on lightning fast greens causes us no issues at all.
We put a smooth stroke on it and hope for the best.
The two putts, while rather different, still count the same, yet we apply so much pressure to make the short one that it’s no wonder we end up trying to steer them into the hole for fear of missing.
If we can remove our overwhelming focus on the end result, it will help to smooth out our stroke.
Replace your attention on results with an attention to the process and routine.
Whether it’s golf, business, or our relationships, we are wired to be overly focused on results and usually spend little to no effort focusing on our process and routine.
When we emphasize our routine, we subconsciously assign the same value to every shot; helping us to avoid putting unwanted pressure on ourselves to execute what we perceive to be “easier” shots.
Process and Routine
The next time you’re out, accept the fact that you will be thinking about results.
But instead of reacting to these thoughts, simply accept them and move on to focusing on your routine.
You may find those 3-foot putts are no longer so daunting, and you may even enjoy yourself a little more on the golf course.
1.) Putting for Speed – No Target
Often times our strokes can get locked up when we over-analyze the break of a putt, or put too much emphasis on results (i.e. making the putt). When practicing and to help unlock your natural feel, practice putting for speed only.
Place two balls a few feet away, creating a “gate.” Without reading any break at all, practice rolling your ball so it just makes it through the gate.
Vary the distance of the gate until you feel comfortable with your distance control without feeling the need to hole a putt.
2.) Look, React, Stroke - Move On
Place three balls around the same hole so you have three, 5-foot putts.
Step into the first ball, look at the hole, and make a stroke.
Without waiting for the result, make a move to the next ball and follow the same procedure.
The thinking behind this is that again we have taken the result out of the equation.
We have added a specific target (the hole), but by moving on to the next ball– and preventing our waiting for a result – we can help free up our stroke.
Now, the only focus is on a smooth stroke.
These drills will help remove both the analysis and result-oriented pieces of your routine – both of which can cause tension and lead to shaky strokes.
The more that we can train ourselves to react to our initial instinct without letting thoughts of fear and doubt creep in, the better chance we have at making a smooth, tension-free strokes.
Here’s The Next Step:
If you’d like something as a reminder when you go to driving range or golf course to help you get control of the putting yips, then download the bonus below.
You'll receive a free step-by-step checklist that shows you the step-by-step process to help your yips.