What? How can I say that when golfers everywhere spend billions of dollars on this game chasing the lure of the great feelings of achievement they get when they improve. Here’s why: when you start to read golf instruction in books, you start to find that there are some universal truths about how amateurs should play in order to actually cut their scores. I have and will continue to cover these ways in my writings and lessons in this site.
The problem is that many amateurs are far more interested in things other than scoring lower such as: big booming drives, making miracle shots, having a pretty swing (rather than an effective one), mimicking their pro idols, keeping up with their playing partner’s club choices, and/or just partying out on the course.
All of those outcomes are fine and dandy and I indulge in them too, but many times, they are directly opposed to you scoring lower!
Wake up and smell the coffee! It’s time to make a decision that you are interested in lower scores and that you are going to do everything in your power to allow that to happen now aren’t you?
Having said that, sometimes you might still want to go out on the course with the idea of just having some fun, or working on the the ideas here and not caring about your score. Great! So long as that is your INTENTION for the day. Too many golfers go out there in complete denial of reality thinking they can have that cake of appearances and eat it too. But not you or any of my clients anymore. From now on, you are going to do everything with INTENTION with regards to your game.
INTENTION simply means that you are going to make conscious decisions about what it is you are doing. Decide right now that when you have the INTENTION to score lower, you are going to follow through with that. Just so you know, INTENTION is my favorite word and I’m going to be using it and other important words in CAPS throughout the book because words have meanings beyond the obvious. 🙂
In summary, with everything you do, think or ask yourself out loud such questions as:
“Will this ______ help me to a lower score?”
“How can I turn this _____ into helping me lower my score?”
“What can I be doing right now that will lower my score?”
What happens out there on the course is you get tempted. Really tempted to “go for it.”
Resist that temptation with the sweet feeling of looking at your scorecard at the end of a round and not finding any double bogeys. If there is anything that age and wisdom have taught me about this game is that a conservative strategy is the way to go. When your buddy is using a 6 iron and you feel that a 5 iron is the more sensible choice, LISTEN to that feeling…it’s your unconscious mind communicating to you.
Decide at the beginning of a round that “Today, I am all about making every decision on the course that a lower score is my priority.”
Think back on rounds in the past where you indulged in useless activities, thought, or emotion that hurt your shot at a a lower golf score. Yes, it’s true, negative self talk is undulgent! I want you to fight it, dispute it, push through it. Stay focused and robotic on your preshot routine, keep to your plan, and play within your game and you will lower your scores.
Greens and fairways,
1. You’ve been doing it all wrong
In case you didn’t know, it is standard knowledge in the golf world that average scores for golfers have not lowered in 60 years. We have improved clubs, equipment, course grooming, and teaching methods and yet golfers are still stinking it up! In fact, many golf courses are suffering low play and declining revenues since the turn of the 21st century. I am convinced it’s because it’s so darn hard to improve and golfers throw in the towel when everything they are sold doesn’t turn into lower scores. It just gets too frustrating.
Personal development guru, Tony Robbins teaches that “Growth” is one of the 6 main human psychological needs. Golfers like to get that need met through the challenge of improving and when you hit an immovable roadblock, you tend to give up if it’s just a game.
I believe the biggest reasons for this failure of the typical golfer is because they try to work on too many things all at once and they ignore subtle improvements. I too was like this as I was thinking about the 10 swing “keys” I was supposed to remember for every shot that my pro taught me. What happens is that your automatic, consistent mind gets confused and then shuts off defaulting you to play the shot with your thinking mind…which rarely works.
For some reason, and I think it’s because of the brainwashing advertising of the golf industrial complex, golfers have created an expectation in their minds of being able to find magic fixes and cures to their ailing game. They think that all they need is a new driver or new putter or zip-zing wedge set. They want instant results with no effort.They want a dramatic fix and they want it now and won’t settle for anything less…totally setting themselves up for frustration and disappointment on the golf course.
Yes, I know, welcome to the human race Craig.
Well, I aim to change all that and tell you the real way to improve at golf.
The solution is to work on one simple concept at a time and don’t move onto the next one until you have it down. One drill, one thought, one movement of the swing, one facet of putting, etc. Isolate something that will give you the best bang for the effort right now, focus on it regularly and often, put tons of intention into it and then move on to the next one. Here’s some practical examples:
“Today on the course, I’m focusing on being target centered….or a consistent pre-shot routine”
“This week, for my game, I’m thinking about improving my visualizations of hitting the sweet spot on my driver.”
I often work with folks in my office and we have a dramatic session where the client is blown away by what they learned or taught themselves in trance. They kind of walk out of the room with that deer-in-the-headlights look. The client comes back the next week and I ask how things have changed. The client has trouble finding much. As we move on to other topics, I highlight the changes that they made in their daily life that they didn’t even recognize. Sometimes subtle and sometimes huge changes. But they didn’t recognize them as changes.
10 subtle changes in your game added up can easily mean 5 less strokes or more on your scorecard. Now that’s something! Stop the insanity of looking only for that dramatic fix and ignoring everything else.
Allow yourself to improve your game with one of my no-practice strategies at a time and you will see improvement fast. Don’t move onto the next one until you’ve fully incorporated this one. Got it? Good….now go do it.
Break 80 Without Practice is loaded with such strategies and techniques. This is how to really improve at golf .
Want to speed up that incremental improvement? Go to Golf Hypnosis and see what all the buzz is about in the golf world.
1. TRUST YOUR SWING YET DEVELOP A “YIP-PROOF STROKE.” It has become a cliché to trust your swing. However, most swingsters do not deeply trust what they have. They have omnipresent little doubts and always seem to be tweaking something. These patterns eventually lead to flinches and freezes. The bowling great Billy Welu advised, “Trust is a must or your game is a bust.” Think right now: what does it really mean to totally trust your swing? Take your time and specifically answer this question to your satisfaction. Your answers are important. They provide a foundation for not only implicitly trusting your swing, but deeply believing in yourself again.
During this time, you might want to take a series of lessons from a trusted teaching pro who understands your predicament. At the very least, these lessons will confirm some essentials about your swing. Feeling solid with your fundamentals can go a long way to resisting the yips. Your pro may find a couple things to alter. You may also learn some new shots. Remind yourself that these mechanical emphases are the building blocks to a trustworthy and repeatable swing.
As you rediscover the essentials of the full swing you then have to honor them. Whether they may be a full takeaway, powerful coil, hands set on top, smooth transition, purposeful tempo, or a powerful release, reacquaint yourself with your core swing. Then create one (AND ONLY ONE!) swing cue which encapsulates your core swing. During a round emphasize this one swing cue from the first tee shot. Trust that this cue encompasses everything. Stop thinking about everything else and throw yourself into this one swing cue.
Believe your core swing will be quite good enough. Build on your strengths. As you reinforce your swing it becomes more consistent. This is good in itself and it helps prevent the yips.
HOWEVER, you also need to develop a backup swing for when the yips seep into your game. I call this a “yip-proof swing” (YPS). This swing won’t look as nice and the ball won’t go as far, but it will hold up under the stress of the yips.
Typically, this YPS is shorter and has less moving parts than your full swing. Such a swing relies more on your larger muscle groups instead of the smaller (and more susceptible) muscle groups of the arms. Develop an abbreviated three-quarter, punch, or knockdown swing which can be used in a pinch. Have your hands lead during the downswing and purposefully accelerate through these shots. You will discover that such a swing is easy…and even mindless…to execute. And that’s the point.
Employ this yip-proof swing when you feel queazy and need to survive a shot. Punch, swipe, or even bunt the ball down the fairway. This is not giving up. Rather, it is a positive response to the yips.
So rely on your full swing until you feel the onset of the yips. In such situations, automatically and unemotionally shift to your yip-proof swing. Don’t think nor fret. Just do it. Succeeding with your YPS will distance yourself from yipping. Many times you can return to your regular swing in a hole or two. Even if you have to stay with the YPS, recognize that this a victory in that you have successfully coped with the yips. And each time you cope with the yips you weaken them and empower yourself.
Think of these two types of swings as different performance “gears.” Like a race car, you automatically shift between these two swing gears depending on the situation.
B. SWING RELATIVELY EASY YET OCCASIONALLY TAKE A RIP AT ONE. Trusting your swing means tuning into your optimal rhythm. A rhythmical swing is a repeatable swing. It also holds up under stress. Finally, smooth swing rhythm helps connect mind and body.
What is the ONE point of your full swing from which your rhythm emanates? Whether it is in the forward press, a long takeaway, complete turn, an uncoiling of the hips, starting down slowly, firing the rear hip and elbow simultaneously, or even posing on the followthrough, find one emphasis on which your rhythm depends. Feel this and think this.
Rhythmical swings which hold up throughout a round are grounded in swinging relatively easy. At this level one is more apt to release the club and make consistent contact. Such swings tend to be consistently performed. Hence all rounds should be approached with swinging relatively easy. Battling swingsters typically try to force and blast all swings during a round. An important step to regaining overall control is to learn again how to swing relatively easy.
How does one find this optimal swing zone? In human performance there is an important distinction between optimal and maximal. Not all full swings should be executed full-out. I define a “100% maximal swing” as the hardest you can swing while remaining in balance. Given this, at what percent of maximum is your optimum swing? As you discover and define it, refer to it this way: an 85% full swing. Whatever your number, always attach the word “full” after it. This will remind you that your optimal swing rhythm is NOT 92% OF a full swing, but a full swing AT 92% power. This is a critical distinction.
So during a round you can keep your mind engaged by “calibrating” the full swing on particular shots. For instance, on my first drive or approach shot, I may calibrate these early swings to be at “76 full.” On the important tee shot on the first par 3, I might calibrate this at a “90 full.” Or if I am playing into the wind or to a back pin, I might calibrate this at an “84 full.” Or whenever I am engaging my YPS, I might calibrate this at a “79 full.” After you find your optimal number, experiment with various swing speeds on the range. Predict each swing rhythm and determine if you can perform it. This exercise will empower your swinging, ballstriking, and even overall control.
HOWEVER, at certain times during a round you may choose to swing all-out on a shot. When you determine it is worth the risk, swing one at “100% full.” On a drive on a par 5, going for that green in two, or wailing one downwind, it is okay to occasionally calibrate a “96 full” swing. Just make sure that the couple subsequent full swings are back down into your optimal zone. You don’t want to become giddy and start swinging out of your shoes on every shot.
Especially with the onset of the full swing yips, one good tactic is to go all-out on a swing. Show the yips who is the boss! Give yourself plenty of margin for error and go after it. You see, it is a natural reaction for swingsters to become more hesitant and even timid. Throw in what I call a “What The Heck” swing to reassert control. Don’t care where the ball goes. Such a WTH swing is the best way to confront any fears you have about missing a shot. Even with your Yip-Proof Swing, occasionally calibrate this at a 95 full level. Shrug your shoulders, clearly commit yourself, say “What The Heck,” and let it loose!
Swing rhythm can be felt and sensed, but it also can be thought and calibrated. So feel your rhythm, ground you swings in your optimal zone, calibrate each one, and occasionally throw in an all-out flail! Rhythm will bring you back and see you through.
Swingsters, there is hope. There are answers. Believe it. You are now on your way!
Dr. Tom Kubistant, CSP
You knew it had to happen. For readers of my articles in these pages, you know that I have a special affinity for those poor souls afflicted with the yips. The responses from “yipsters” and “chipsters” have been gratifying. They have overcome their flinches and, as importantly, soothed their tormented psyches.
Just about every day I receive emails from golfers throughout the world who experience some type of yips. I wish you could read some of these heart-wrenching stories. They have lost control of the fine motor skills necessary for playing solid golf. It is like some kind of demon is in control of their bodies and minds. They are embarrassed by their ineptness and frustrated with the inability to maintain control. Beyond that, the yips have sapped the joy out of playing the game they love.
From the systems we have created, golfers of all abilities have learned how to better accept, respond, and even overcome their putting and chipping yips. However, there is still one variant which has never been formally addressed…until now. It is the full swing yips. You knew it had to happen!
THE TANGLED WEB OF THE FULL SWING YIPS
The full swing yips are a relatively rare form of this performance affliction. They take on some very specific forms. Some full swing yipsters (whom I call “swingsters”) are unable to take back the club. They are literally frozen over the ball. Other swingsters shutter during the takeaway. Still others freeze at the top of the swing. Others “hitch” (one of my swingster’s term) on the way down. Finally, some uncontrollably flinch at impact, raising up as if they are afraid to hurt the ball.
Each of the three major types of yips are unique and separate unto themselves. I have very rarely seen golfers who have, say, the putting and pitching yips. The full swing yips have quite distinct dynamics. Whereas the putting and chipping yips are subtle and covert, the full swing yips are obvious and overt. They are almost violent. In teaching and playing pros’ circles, the full swing yips are that “dirty little secret” to which is rarely admitted, much less discussed and addressed.
In a game where the full swing is the visual and symbolic hallmark of mechanical mastery, yipping is embarrassing. Beyond the physical flinches, the mental and emotional responses become almost agonizing. Swingsters constantly struggle and eventually become ever-rationalizing, discouraged, and even dour. Indeed, the full swing yips create a tangled web.
The more swingsters try to combat them, the more these yips control through elusiveness. At the other extreme, trying to ignore them hoping they will go away does not work either. And of course, pressurized playing situations bring them out more dramatically. Swingsters can sense that long before they reach the ball they will yip. They become tunnel-visioned, short of breath, and experience queazy stomachs. In a game where self-control is elementary, it is personally humiliating to have something else in charge.
Like the other two forms of the yips, swingsters tend to be very intelligent and aware. Their abilities to analyze and be sensitive can actually work against them in that they frequently get in their own ways. The yips develop and flourish in the overly analytical and sensitive. Now, it offers little solace for those afflicted with the yips to tell their jesting partners, “I have the yips because I am much more cognizant and perceptive than you clods!” However, just as a swingster’s intellect facilitates the yips, it also provides a pathway out of this morass. (I used these big words here to titillate your intelligence!)
BEFORE WE START…
Okay, are you ready to work? Are your really ready? Are you totally committed to overcoming your yipping? Answer these questions truthfully. I have encountered some swingsters who say they are committed to change, but really aren’t. It is as if their yips have become grudging friends…like a crazy old uncle. They seem to be comfortable with their yips and actually fear giving them up for the unknown. As the old saying goes, “The devil you know may be better than the devil you don’t know.” Do you really want to change?
Even though I have helped a couple hundred yipsters and scores of chipsters, I have only seen 32 swingsters. However, some definite trends have emerged. Here are a couple of important perspectives before we embark.
(1) Believe the full swing yips can be overcome. This process is usually long, nonlinear, and even illogical. AND they can be conquered.
(2) You have to let go of your pride, self-image, and old ego attachments of how you used to swing. Accept that you will have to learn new ways of swinging and playing the game.
(3) Convince yourself that you are doing battle not only with those yips, but with your mind as well. Part of this struggle will be in direct confronting. However, a big part of this battle will also be in learning how to accept, allow, and remain detached.
THE DUALITIES OF HANDLING THE FULL SWING YIPS
There are four core dimensions in overcoming the full swing yips. I have found that each of these dimensions needs to be addressed in two almost antithetical ways. That is, you will have to develop almost contradictory techniques within each dimension. Rest assured that one of these mutually exclusive techniques will be effective for each yipping situation you encounter.
Before you proceed, please one word of warning: as you read through these strategies, resist the temptation to apply all of them at once. This will only exacerbate your yipping. Diligently read each of these dimensions three times. Then exclusively emphasize the first for a full two weeks. Then work on the second. Next month I will present the third and fourth dimensions. This will give you time to completely understand and implement the first two. In this manner, you will build an interlocking system of your new game.
Part 2: Golf Swing Yips-2
Want more of Doc Kubistant? Get Mind Links now.
One of the problems most golfers–especially yipsters–have is becoming “cup bound.” Of course, we want to drain all short putts. However, we sometimes focus so intently on the cup we lose touch with how to optimally stroke the putt. The more we emphasize the cup the more we divert concentration and allow pressure to influence.
The antidote to being cup bound is to immerse into the process of stroking the putt for its own sake. You see, the goal is NOT to sink the putt. Rather, the goal is to put a good stroke on it–something which you can completely control. Now, don’t become hypersensitized to all the little minutia of the stroking process. Instead, I like to say just “be with” the execution of the putt. Keep your process goals at the general levels of stroking a “smooth,” “solid,” “heavy,” “committed,” or “pure” putt.
The best way to do this is to emphasize proper speed control. We all calibrate correct speed/distance control on midrange and approach putts, but because we are cup bound we tend to forget this on makable ones. So whenever you have one of “those” putts, throw yourself into making a purposeful STROLL (stroke + roll) with the proper speed. As you take a last look at the cup pinpoint a spot eighteen inches past this where you want the ball to stop (if it somehow misses!). These techniques will help shift from being cup bound and enable good strolls.
Here are other proven putting tactics.
• Yawn. As you are waiting your turn, take a long and deep yawn. Feel like a lion before it pounces on its prey. Are you yawning now?!
• Develop and rely upon your preputt routine. It is your “safe harbor” outside the wild seas of the yips. Whenever you commence your routine, breath a sigh of relief realizing everything is now on “automatic pilot.” Consistently emphasizing what you can control sidesteps the yips. Stop yawning!
• As important a preputt routine is, sometimes the yips can even infiltrate this. On those occasions when you feel the quivers bubbling over even before you set up, forget the routine, step right up, and stroke the ball. This is a more positive expansion of Lee Trevino’s classic advice of “miss ‘em quick.” Sneak past these shaky putts. There is nothing to be gained by grinding them out. They are merely to be survived and forgotten. Go back to your full preputt routine on the next green. It will be better.
• Here is a neat little tactic one of you originally shared with me.
Wear a rubberband or one of those colored symbolic rubber bracelets. Whenever you feel queasy, pessimistic, or fearful before a putt, snap that band…HARD! That physical sensation should “snap” you out of tentativeness to become more positive, detached, or even lighthearted about the putt.
• Step away. When you feel the quivers seeping in when over a putt, step back. You do so when distracted on a full swings, so why not on putts? Be like the baseball batter who steps out of the box, then reengages, and steps back in. When you don’t feel ready to putt, step back, apologize to your partners, reengage into the new performance, and then stroke the putt. Give yourself permission to step away.
• Employ “nonchalant” putts. Think about it. When you have an eighteen-incher, you either stand on your rear foot, with a very open stance, or even backhandedly tap it in without thinking nor caring. Experiment with just how far you can do this. You might become surprised that you can extend this distance far into your “throw up zone.” Even if you miss such putts remind yourself you would have probably missed them anyway with the regular stroke,…but now with a lot less stress. Nonchalant putting is not so much a permanent ploy, but a stopgap measure until you earn some confidence from your regular stroking.
• The capstone of regaining control is to embody a super-assertive attitude. Stand up over makable putts and stroke them with abandon, apathy, or even disdain…just like you did when you were a kid. They are just little putts and really do not mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Stroke them, go to the next tee, and play more golf. Not caring about these putts is both the means and ends to controlling the yips.
THE CORE OF REGAINING CONTROL
I’ve saved another one of the secrets to putting until now to reward those who are still reading this! It may seem blatantly obvious, but you have to learn to better relax during a round. Relaxation is not only a defense to yipping, it is also the process to allow more concentrated efforts to emerge. Deep relaxing insulates you from the yips. Period.
Here is a little performance tip: if you wait to relax until you feel vulnerable over a putt, it is too late. Employ your own style of relaxing both before and during a round, particularly when you do not feel any pressure.
Your style of relaxing not only involves breathing, body awareness, visualizing, disassociating, and even creating positive affirmations. You see, when deeply relaxed you achieve a state called centering. This is where your physical, mental, emotional, procedural, intuitive, and even spiritual selves all blend together. Integrated efforts come from this center. Specifically, concentration, calmness, and even confidence (literally, “with faith”) all naturally emerge from this center. It is not only the place, but also the conduit through which good performances flow.
With regards to yipping, the more relaxed you approach the entire round the better you can stroll smooth putts. The deeper your centering the more insulated you will be from the pressures of silly little putts. You are not only more physically loose, but also more mentally calm. As you center, you will first notice being more immune to four-footers, then slick three-footers, and finally downhill breakers on the eighteenth green.
Relaxation is a skill and, like any other skill, the more you develop your style the more deep and sustained it becomes. If you are unsure how to develop it, THE best money you can EVER invest in your game is to spend a couple of sessions with a qualified counselor to learn how. Relaxation breeds centering, concentration, and confidence.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
If you have studied these three articles you are now undoubtedly overwhelmed. Good! You see, clarity evolves from confusion. You certainly cannot think about all of these individual emphases over a pressure putt or your eyes will bulge out, hands will strangle the blade, and head will surely explode! Systematically work your way through all this material. It is well worth it…and it can even be fun.
Your goal is to discover which of the perspectives, techniques, and tactics work…right now. If nothing else, all of these new approaches and techniques will confuse your yips! No matter whether or not they work, store away all of them. Years ago, I devised the metaphor of the putting “toolbox.” Like the one in your garage, place all your various putting tools into it. You will never know when one technique which initially did not fit now works wonders. Yipsters who regain control and stay resilient have access to multiple approaches.
There will always be adjustments to make. Various emphases or techniques will work for awhile and then run their courses. Realize and accept this. In this respect, you are just like every other player who continually makes adjustments. With each successful application, yipsters gain earned confidence with their putting. So eventually you will not even refer to yourself as a “yipster” anymore. Congratulations!
As I stated at the beginning of this series, good putters are courageous putters. They know and honor their own styles of putting–procedural, mechanical, and mental. However, they are also open to experiment and enhance. Solid putting performances evolve from this balance between honoring and enhancing.
Believe it, you can overcome the yips to become an overall better putter. Others have done it and you can too. Find out for yourself. If succumbing to the yips is one of life’s failures, then regaining control is one of life’s grand accomplishments. The proof is in the putting.
Get Mind Links and the bonus ebook: The psychology of chipping and putting
Dr. Tom Kubistant, CSP
If putting is “the black art of golf,” then the yips is the “black hole.” Uncontrollably quivering, twitching, and downright convulsing sends many competent players straight to the 19th Hole. Beyond going nuts with their putting, yipsters lose the inherent joy in playing The Game. No matter where they are during a hole, there is always that nagging thought reminding they will eventually have to stroke a short putt. These apprehensions eventually seep into the rest of their games. A dark cloud usually hangs over yipsters and gloom pervades their entire beings. If you doubt this, try living with one!
Becoming a better putter is a sequential process enfolding from general to specific. No one tactic will work in isolation. One first has to become grounded with the general perspectives and principles before one can effectively employ specific techniques.
Overcoming the yips is as much psychological as it is physiological, mechanical, procedural, and technological. Every golfer has to develop a holistic approach to putting encompassing all those elements. Putting is the most mental part of golf. Especially when afflicted with the yips, each element has to be addressed individually and then reintegrated back into the whole. This is why it takes so long. But the yips can eventually be overcome so the golfer actually becomes a better putter.
The following sections have been proven successful by scores of players. Don’t believe me; find out for yourself. I have divided them into: setup positions, stroking techniques, and putting tactics. Take out your Hi-Liter!
Here are some new applications…a couple of which were submitted by you golfers. Thank you. By the way, the best tongue-and-cheek tactic one of you shared was, “Bang the putter against your ankle. The crippling pain will disconnect any yips!”
• You have undoubtedly experimented with a multitude of putter styles and lengths. Accept there is no one perfect putter. Find a pretty good one and stick with it for at least FOUR months. During this time the only thing to experiment with is the size of the grip. You see, the answer is not in the wand, but in the magician.
• As you walk up to the ball, do the “swimmer’s shake.” Roll your head, shrug shoulders, and shake out arms all the way down to your hands like swimmers do when they step onto starting blocks. Breathe deeply while doing this. Don’t fret, your playing partners probably won’t notice…they are worrying about their own putts.
• Stand up straighter so the arms hang more. This way the stroke can swing more from the shoulders. This may initially feel strange for your eyes may be over two inches farther away from the ball. However, this new distance is much closer to that of the other strokes in your game.
• Take a wider stance like you would in the wind. Then roll in or pigeon-toe your feet (like Arnold Palmer) so you feel the pressure on the inner parts. The feeling of solidly braced legs seems to extend all the way up to the head.
• Spread out your toes inside the shoes. By being aware of feet and toes you shift sensitivity away from the eyes and hands.
The next six techniques are little movements which facilitate the smooth transition from setup to takeaway.
• As you step up forcefully pound the putter on the ground like Kenny Perry. This overt movement stimulates a more purposeful mindset.
• Place the putter in front of the ball and then loop it back over like Nick Price.
• Hover the putter like Jack Nicklaus. This helps with a more rhythmic and lower takeaway. You can also feel this takeaway going slightly down in an arc, thus minimizing subtle movements in the wrists.
• Put a forward press on the club so it stabilizes both hands in the
same position throughout the stroke.
• Set the putter 2-3 inches behind the ball. This promotes a smoother throughstroke.
• Gently tap the putterhead a couple of times on the ground before taking it back. The yips flourish in static tension. All six techniques engage your natural and purposeful rhythm before the takeaway.
Here are some neat techniques. Experiment with each of them alone and then in combination with one of the above setup positions.
• On the rehearsal stroke, have the putterhead follow through blocking out vision of the cup. This will facilitate completion of the actual stroke.
• Purposefully purse or bite your lips during the stroke. This physical act seems to divert and even dissipate tension.
• Stick out your tongue like Michael Jordon. This keeps your jaw, neck, and shoulders loose.
• Feel the inner bone of the rear elbow brush across your midsection during the throughstroke. This simultaneously keeps the stroke on line as well as releases the putterhead. Some players have combined this technique with the “secret” detailed in Part II (Go look it up!).
• When you feel shaky over a putt, jam the rear elbow close to your navel. This will restrict the stroke, but it will hold up. Since this position won’t generate as much power, make sure you follow through.
• Each time you come upon a stroking technique that works–even for just a couple of rounds–store it away in your memory. Such techniques are valuable in themselves, but they also reveal your ideal putting stroke.
I dont understand it. Although I work year around with yipsters at the start of every season I receive an influx of requests from those poor souls afflicted with the putting, chipping and pitching, and full swing yips. The last few Augusts I was contacted by yipsters who lived in Australia,
New Zealand, South Africa, and even Tasmania who were commencing their seasons. And every March I am almost inundated with correspondence from yipsters across North America and Europe. It is almost as if golfers vow that in the upcoming season they will better cope with and even conquer their yipping. I donít understand the motivation for this timing, but there it is.
I have been researching and working with the putting yips since 1986. My first article on it was way back in 1990. This work expanded to the chipping/pitching and full swing yips. I have written series of articles on each of these three distinct types of yipping.
As this general affliction became more recognized, other athletes, performing artists, and professionals have contacted me for help with their yipping of fine motor skills. To date, I have helped pianists, dentists, baseball infielders, surgeons, drag racers, pool players, painters and sculptors, basketball players, jugglers, shooters, and even barbers. Erase those images (for example, of your dentist yipping!) from your head!
Along the way, I have almost become a clearinghouse for yips tips. Now, many of the tips I receive are fads, off-the-wall flukes, ìprofessionalsî trying to market some kind of snake oil, or help only limited types of people. But some of the advice has lasting and more generalized benefits.
Over the years in these pages, I have probably presented well over a hundred proven yips tips. I want to share some of the more recent putting tips which have helped golfers. Some of these are broad perspectives, others are physiological and neurological, still others are mechanical and procedural, and some of them are tactical. Please remember, all tips are isolated techniques. They need to be incorporated into the golferís entire putting system to be truly effective. (Please refer to my 2006 three-part series.) No technique should be employed or relied upon in isolation.
NEW ANTIDOTES TO THE Golf YIPS
Here are the best new proven putting yips tips you may wish to experiment, employ, and integrate.
ï First, at the beginning of the season, decide on ONE putter and stick with it for the entire year. I encounter so many yipsters who bounce around from putter to putter that, this in itself, only serves to keep them lost. No matter how mass produced, each putter has its own unique look, feel, and if you will, personality. Find one which looks good to your eye and stick with it through all of 2008. Stick with it especially during the low and yippy times. Blame this on me!
Your putter is your tool, sword, or instrument, if you will. Your putter can also be seen as an extension of your thoughts. Honor your putter. Granted, you will make different hand adjustments and even modify the grip (see below), but stick with the same putter. There are so many subtle variables in putting that you need to stick with the same putter to eliminate as many as them as possible. Choose one putter for the year.
Here is a unique variation which has helped a good many yipsters. If you want a bigger putter grip, you might want to experiment with building it up from the outside. Instead of installing a bulbous oversized grip, wrap one or 2 grips over your existing one. I have found tennis racquet overwraps work best. (A couple of yipsters have found some success with the opposite extreme in using the thinnest grip they could find. Keep this option in mind as a possible alternative.)
Unlike the slip-on oversize, the added layers provide more feedback. With any thicker grip you have to stroke the ball more fully, thus better employing the bigger muscle groups of the shoulders. Especially on short yipable putts, the greater diameter of the grip will help keep the fine motor impulses of the hands disengaged so a more connected stroke can commence. Make sure you stand taller or have a shorter putter so the arms naturally hang down. A thick slip-on or overwrap grip will help with a shoulder stroke in which the hands and forearms merely go along for the ride.
Take more…or less…time. Now, you may be reacting,ìGreat, this is a big help! Bear with me. Although I advise yipsters to identify, groove, and rely on a consistent preputt routine, sometimes it can become too routine. Experiment with the extremes of your preputt routine ranging on a continuum from: Lee Trevinoís philosophy of Miss Em Quick all the way to settling longer over the ball. I have had yipsters benefit (from temporary to permanent) by altering the time they spent over the putt–either more time or less time. Especially under pressure or when you feel yippy, change the timing in your preputt routine. Initially, you just want to survive these occurrences, but the alteration might help in the long run.
Set your hands way ahead of the ball like an extreme forward press. Push forward (bow, supinate) the front hand and cock back the rear hand as far as they will go. This position will also lock the rear elbow into your stomach which will reduce flinching. Indeed, this position will feel very restrictive…which is exactly what you may need.
This setup position will significantly change the angle of the putter face. So after you set your hands in this position align the back of the lead hand and the palm of back back hand on the target line. After making the micro-adjustments with your hands and putter face you might want to tap the putter on the ground a couple of times. This tapping releases any tension from this position as well as anchors the alignment.
Such putts will roll longer due to the decreased loft of the face. This will counteract the more restrictive stroke of your rear elbow wedged into your stomach. Trust that the ball will reach the target. Even if you do yip the stroke wonít be affected. Granted, this extreme press might not feel good nor look good, but the results will.
Here is a specific mental imagery many yipsters have found valuable. As you settle over the ball really ìfeelî the connection between the ball and the hole. No, this is nothing mystical. Imagine the hole receiving the ball like a vortex. Feel the ball being drawn to the hole and sucked down into it. Really visualize both the connection and process in great sensory detail and even in slow motion.
Such imagery should be comforting and reassuring. The hole is where your ball NEEDS to go. After seeing and feeling it, simply release the stroke sending the ball on its natural course to the inevitable result.
Really feeling the connection between ball and hole is the way of readying yourself to make the stroke. Do not start until you feel this connection. For yipsters, this imagery diverts attention away from the sensitized physiological and psychological emphases toward something that is outside of your control; namely, the ball being drawn down into the hole. Weeeee!
Here is a technique I have adapted from my general mental coaching playing sessions to specifically help yipsters. When we are on the course, I talk with my golfers about concentration. One concentrating technique I developed is what I call ìturbocharging.î On 3-4 big shots during a round, I advise the golfer to open the eyes very wide during the set up over the shot. Opening eyes very wide turbocharges existing concentration better immersing the player into the shot performance.
Under pressure and, in particular with yipsters, there is a tendency to blink at the end of the backstroke or during the throughstroke. Since the eyes are really an extension of the brain, blinking can disconnect the brain from the body, especially with fine motor skills. This blinking also tends to move the head. More significantly, this blinking disrupts concentration and allows the yips to twitch.
Unlike the squinty-eyed look of Clint Eastwood just before he blew someone away, full concentration is enhanced by a wide-eyed look of being completely immersed in the moment of the performance. Keeping your eyes wide open better connects brain with body. More integrated and fluid strokes then tend to emerge. Even if your vision becomes blurry, whenever you feel pressure, doubt, or the yips coming on, open your eyes way wide. This little technique will turbocharge your existing concentration.
Okay, if you are still reading this you deserve to be rewarded. There is, indeed, a secret to putting. You might have heard rumors about this, probably dismissing them as myths. Yes, there is one secret to putting just about all the best putters have employed and hoarded. They might have referred to it in different terms, but they all reach the same core. It is also one of the most important emphases for coping and even conquering the yips. For those golfers who come to Reno to work with me on their putting, I introduce it and we spend significant time working just on it. I also have them swear that they will not tell anyone else (under penalty of being forever cursed with the yips!). It is a secret I have alluded to in previous putting articles and even hidden deeply within a couple of them. This one emphasis unifies everything for just about everyone.
Enough buildup. The Secret is simply this: when the putt is away, visually focus on a couple blades of grass where the ball was. Thatís it.
If you go into each putting performance emphasizing looking at where the ball was, everything becomes more unified and even natural. The mechanical., psychological, neurological, rhythmical, and strategic elements of the putting performance blend together.
Now, this is much harder than it seems. Especially under pressure to make the putt, doubt, or with the emergence of the yips, our minds and bodies usually split and conflict. Having the discipline to visually focus on a blade of grass where the ball was connects stroke with outcome. (Now, this is greatly different from the ìkeeping your head stillî or ìlooking downî observations one hears from some inane commentators or teaching pros. It is quite a different neurological orientation and process.) Visually focus on the precise spot where the ball was. See a particular blade of grass, indentation, or even a discoloration where the ball was.
Many golfers–especially yipsters–take this emphasis one step further: after the putt is away they bring back the putter and place the toe on those blades of grass where the ball was before they look up. This is a great practice technique and it can also be effectively applied during the round.
Donít worry, your playing partners wonít notice. They will just think you kept your head still. They donít know the depth and breadth of what you are emphasizing. Please, donít believe me with this secret (and donít share it with others!). Find out for yourself.
HOW TO APPLY…OR NOT!
These are some the recent proven techniques, emphases, and even secrets when I work with yipsters. Now, do not run into your den or out to your courseís putting green to apply all of the above tips at once! All good putters, and especially those who recovered from the yips, have developed a comprehensive system to putting in which individual techniques were seamlessly integrated. This comprehensive system should include putting philosophy, strategy and tactics, relaxation and centering, concentration, reading and targeting, preputt and postputt routines, mechanics, rhythm, and even intuition.
See which one of the above fits for you and then implement just that one for a full ten days. It will probably work, but it may not. If it works, purposefully integrate it into your system. Then choose another tip to apply.
Remember, your yips were probably forming for years before they actually appeared. So your coping and conquering efforts will take some time to work as well. Dedication, patience, trust, and even a sense of humor will see you through.
Finally, donít do any of the above! Take a break and donít work on your yips. Sure, still play golf, but purposely donít emphasize anything nor worry about your putting. Just nonchalantly swipe at putts. Again, blame all of this on me!
Sometimes we just need to get away from it all. There is a time to apply, modify, and refine. However, there is also a time to do nothing. Especially with such a complicated and devious affliction as the yips, frequently the more we try to control it, the more elusive it becomes. Give yourself a break away from it. Look at this as a metaphorical ìpitstopî in your race with the yips.
Take a couple of weeks off. You might be pleasantly surprised that when you come back to addressing your putting you are more relaxed and even integrated. Sometimes our minds and bodies become so frazzled that each needs time to heal.
There is the classic Sam Snead story when he was asked to watch the swing of an extreme duffer. After five minutes of painful observing he was reported to have said, ìTake two weeks off…and then quit the game!î There is a time to push and then there is a time to step aside and let it all flow and go. Give yourself permission to occasionally step aside from your yips.
If there is a silver lining to the putting yips it is this: I have found that golfers who have overcome their yipping actually become better putters. They are more courageous, consistent, resilient, committed, fluid, and wise. Rest assured that if you can cope with the insanity of the yips, you can respond to any little putt.
Let it roll in.
Dr. Tom Kubistant is one of the original modern day sports psychologists. He has been researching the mental game and helping athletes since 1972. He has written five books and over 400 articles on the psychology of human performance. He is once again expanding his services to coach other athletes and performing artists. Although he rarely works with golfers anymore, he loves talking to them. © 2008, Dr. Tom Kubistant; all rights reserved
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One cornerstone to good playing is minimizing mistakes. It has been said by many golf pundits that those who play well are those who make the least number of mistakes, least severity of them, at the least crucial times, and recover most quickly from them. Years ago, I created the “cake” metaphor for good scoring. Great shots and pure hits are merely the frosting on the cake. However, consistency is the cake itself. And one way to improve consistency is by controlling mistake patterns.
In any round of golf, there is a plethora of possible pitfalls. On any given shot, there are so many things that can go wrong–mechanically, physically, rhythmically, mentally, emotionally, and tactically. In fact, there seems to be a least ten times as many things that can go wrong than can go right. No wonder so many of us are basket cases!
When we become aware of what can possibly go wrong, we tend to become more tentative and even defensive in both thinking and executing. It is, indeed, a self-fulfilling prophecy that the more we attempt to prevent errors the more we actually ensure them occurring. (Remember your “Don’t hit it right OB” admonition? And where did that shot go?!) However, we can’t ignore their reality either. Inconsistent play, blowup holes, and even giving up are grounded in such ignorance. Clearly, in order to play smart golf we have to better understand and channel our personal error patterns.
Think about it, what is the first thing you remember about the most current round? Mistakes. You think about the number of “shots left out on the course,” the big blunders, the missed opportunities, the dumb choices, and even the outright chokes. The more you reflect on your mistakes the more aware you become that you have made similar ones before. Just as there are patterns to your optimal play, there are also patterns to your mistakes.
Now, think about this: no mistake is ever made in isolation. Mistake patterns have components that are mental, emotional, and/or tactical. Even a blatant mishit is grounded in your mindset as you set up over the shot. From twenty-plus years of playing sessions with golfers, it has been my experience that in every double bogey there was at least one shot that was a dumb play.
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Realize that there has NEVER been a perfectly played round. Even at the height of his powers, the great Ben Hogan admitted that in any given round he only hit about seven shots purely or, as he said, “as I intended.” If the great Hogan said he only hit seven pure shots per round, how come you expect to hit every shot perfectly?
Also, in the early days of the golf handicapping system, Walter Hagen equated players’ numbers to about the amount of major swing errors they typically committed per round. There is a lot of wisdom in his concept.
In fact, I have expanded Hagen’s theory to include mental, emotional, shotmaking, and course management mistakes as well. Here is my ratio: ALL GOLFERS MAKE MISTAKES AT LEAST TWO TIMES THEIR INDEX NUMBER. Hence if your current index is 12, you will make over two dozen little mistakes per round. Think about your playing patterns before you accept my ratio. It is nothing about which to become discouraged. You see, only after we fully accept something can we then do something about it.
Golf is just a darned difficult game. And mistakes are an inherent part of the game. Accept the fact that you will make mistakes. Give yourself a break and be easier on yourself. This is the first mindset to establish in playing better and more enjoyable golf.
To be continued next week…
“They Keep Lying And You Keep Buying”
Aren’t you tired of missing 3-footers? They not only cost you the hole, but it costs you your cool and about 5 more holes right after…Yeah, that little train-track putting gadget you bought really saved your butt under pressure there didn’t it?
Did you know that recent machine tests have been done that prove that an old persimmon wood (yep, you read that right, the kind your grandfather used to play) hits the ball the same distance as all those fancy new metals of today?
And yet, with larger sweet spots, with all those gadgets, all those swing instruction programs, all those new high-tech fancy clubs, all those new golf ball polymers, all those perfectly manicured courses and even GPS units that tell you exactly how far your next shot is…Average Golfer Scores Have Not Dropped Since Steel Shafts Replaced Hickory!
Why is this?
The mental game…
Craig Sigl – The Golf Anti-practice expert
Dr. Tom Kubistant, sports psychologist has worked with world-class athletes since 1971. He is the most experienced psychologist on the mental game of golf on the planet!! To take advantage of his decades of golf wizardry, Get
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How did I swing so fluidly on the range 10 minutes ago, but now, on the first hole, I chop at the ball like a lumberjack?
This is one of the greatest frustrations most golfers face. We’ve proved to ourselves that we can swing well on the practice range, but transferring these feelings, the rhythm and confidence onto the course is quite a different challenge.
The ability to transfer your golf game from the range onto the course is one of the essential mental skills to be mastered.
This mental skill can be learned and improved. Just like any teaching professional worth his or her salt better be able to cure a slice, any golf psychologist better be able to help golfers take their games from the range to the course.
To effectively transfer your golf game over, there are essential mental perspectives to apply.
First, the 7-iron you hit on the range is entirely different from the 7-iron you might hit on the first hole. They are two separate situations that involve quite different mental processes.
Most often, we feel good about our swings on the range after we have repeated the same shot. We feel our swings are “grooved.”
But during a round you only get one chance at each shot. Second, When warming up prior to a round there are myriad swing factors to which you may be paying attention – posture, alignment, takeaway, hand positions, rotation, swing plane, tempo, plus any swing cue that has been working for you.
Trying to do all of those things over a shot during the round will probably lead to a
mental meltdown. Forget about all these isolated mechanical issues and perform integrated swings. This
is where mind and body come together.
Third, on the range you’re in a ball orientation, but during a round you need be in target and process orientations. During warm–up, you are focusing on striking the ball and maybe seeing how it flies through the air. There, the golf ball is the end.
But during a round the ball is a means to other ends. Once you step onto the golf course, you have to focus on a target, whether it be the hole or a spot in the fairway.
These three mental perspectives are critical to performing at your best during a round.
During your warm-up on the range, you must gradually and consciously shift your thinking from a practice mentality to a playing mentality~ The best way to do this is to follow what Ed Grant advised back in 1981:
“If you want to play more like you practice, you must star to practice like you play.”
From your practice sessions to you warm-up sessions, everything you do should be done in the way
you would like to do them on the course. Pick out a precise target, follow your preshot routine and commit yourself to the shot. If you’re hitting more than two balls per minute, you’re going too fast.
Granted, there are times to do drills or work on specific mechanics, but the last
half of every practice session should be used to replicate the kinds of on-course performances you seek.
1. GO THROUGH YOUR RELAXATION sequence and settle into
yourself as you stretch. Good players do this before theyhit balls and even just
before theywalkto the first tee.
2. ALTERNATE YOUR SHOTS on the
range. Hit a 9-iron and then a 6-iron. -Yes, you might not feel cdmfoi~table
doing this,but it is more akin to what you will be facing on the course.
3. PICK OUT VERY SPECIFIC
TARGETS. Aim for dead grass or a drain. Get used to focusing on a target.
4. HIT THREE-QUARTER SHOTS
and work the ball. Let’s face it, perhaps only half of the shots you hit during a
round will be your standard full swing on a flat stance with the ball sitting up.
Get a feeling and confidence on the
range for your creative shots.
5. REHEARSE KEY SHOTS you’ll be
hitting in the first three holes. For example, I believe the first hole at Graeagle
Meadows is the most demanding opening hole in Northern California. It’s a 440-yard
dogleg left around trees with water on the right. On the range, Iwill practice
drawing a three-wood. I imagine myself on the first tee with each of these shots I
6. FEEL ThE RHYTHM. The last
3rd of the balls you hit should be rhythmical swings at 80 percent full power. Think
and feel rhythm. You can carry this to the course.
7. MAKE TIME FOR SHORT-GAME
PRACTICE – putting, pitching and chipping. I believe that if you only have time for
either full swings or chipping, you should choose chipping.
8. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
before you walk to the first tee.
Complete your mental transitions, yawn, shrug your shoulders and say hello to the
If you’re aware of these mental orientations, warm up properly and employ some of the
above techniques, you’ll become more effective in transferring your golf game onto the
course. You’ll truly be ready to play.
I hope I have been worth my salt.
“It’s a fact that a person can acquire a complete mastery of the skills needed to succeed in golf. Yet, this same person may not be able to perform in a consistenly winning manner. As a highly regarded sports psychologist, Dr. Tom Kubistant has made a difference when it comes to unlocking the mental barriers that may keep us from success in golf.”
Jan Usher – PGA, Lakeridge Golf Course
Dr. Tom Kubistant has been called “The Master of the Intrinsic.” He maintains the entire bibliography on the mental
game of golf…and has read it all! Nobody is more experienced than Tom. He continues to work with professional and average golfers every day.
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Author of “Performing Your Best, Links Golf, Mind Pump: The Psychology of Body Building, business and sales training audios, over 280 articles for magazines and now………Mind Links – The Psychology of Golf.