6 Tips to Fix Chipping Yips
Chipping yips aren’t something you eat with salsa at the 19th hole. They’re those herky-jerky, flinchy golf nerves that strike when it’s time to make a chip shot. Although the yips are manifested physically, they start in the golfer’s mind. Since the mind controls what the body does, curing the problem requires investigation of both thinking and execution.
Here are some tips to fix your chipping yips.
The Mental Side
1. Control your self-talk. Stop calling yourself a “yipper.” The label becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy every time you reach for a chipping club. You can’t break an old pattern or make a fresh start if you’re consciously or subconsciously telling yourself that it can’t happen. It’s OK to start by calling yourself a “former yipper” and add more positive self-talk as you go.
2. Figure out what you’re afraid of. What’s making you anxious? Are you so afraid of looking bad in front of your playing partners or in a tournament that you choke? Are you putting too much pressure on yourself to make a shot to achieve a certain score? When you identify what the trigger is, you can take steps to circumvent it.
3. Identify any part of the shot you’re not confident about. Is there any part of the technique you’re really not sure of? Is there some aspect you haven’t practiced enough and are relying on luck? Review all of the technical aspects so there’s no room for doubt.
4. Visualize your desired outcome. All top-notch athletes do this. Mentally see yourself executing the shot perfectly. Go through every step of the swing so your subconscious mind knows what the goal is. And see the end result as the perfect chip shot that goes exactly where you want it to. You’re already getting the terrible shots you hold the perfect picture of out of anxiety. So change the picture already!
The Physical Side
5. Make sure your technique is good. This is one way to remedy the lack of confidence. It’s also important to link the physical muscle memory of the shot with the perfect mental picture of it.
6. Shake things up. Do something different to break the mental and physical pattern that’s leading to the yips. Change your grip — switch from an interlocking to an overlapping grip or vice versa. Grasp the club a little farther down than usual. Use a putting grip. Change clubs — use one you’re more comfortable with that isn’t mentally connected to the shots you yip on. Change sides — chip left-handed if you’re right-handed or vice versa. Add or change a pre-shot ritual. Change something to change the pattern.
It can take time and patience to beat the chipping yips. But if you work through all the steps, you’ll be able to find out what sets yours off and fix it. Then you can congratulate yourself and enjoy the chips and salsa at the 19th hole – without the yips.