Fix the Golf Swing Yips – part 2
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!