Golf Swing Yips – part 1
SMOOTHING THE FULL SWING YIPS
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
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I have the FULL SWING YIPS.
The only setup rotine that seems to work fairly consistent is as follows, may assist others as well:
1. A couple waggles with some shoulder/chest rotation
2. Then move club behind the ball
3. Immediately lift and move club head diagonally across so that toe is slightly forward of ball and club is your side of the ball
4. Immediately move club diagonally behind ball and IMMEDIATELY COMMENCE SWING
Not full-proof, but the 2-3 inches of diagonal movement to get club head behind the ball is THE START or COMMENCEMENT OF THE BACKSWING.
You can’t pause when club moves behind the ball, REMEMBER, YOUR BACK SWING COMMENCED WHEN YOU MOVED THE CLUB DIAGONALLY FROM THE FORWARD POSITION TO GET IT BEHIND THE BALL.
One of my coaches had me change my waggles so I had 2 slow waggles forward of the ball along the target line. Problem with this was I had to move the club head over the ball and drop behind the ball, I always felt I was going to hit the ball.
Let me know if this works for anyone.
Thanks for sharing this with us Ken, excellent tips and advice.
Greens and Fairways,
Dear Craig,I emailed you a year or two ago about my problem over the backswing yips and how after trying all sorts of remedies including hypnosis and psycology I still could not overcome the curse that took me from single figures to almost giving up the game I love.Well I am now playing back to my old self and enjoying golf again and have recently been allotted a 9 h/cap. If what solved it for me helps other sufferers please tell them.I knew the ball was the culprit for me,I could swing and hit a tee or any object on it with no trouble at all but immediately the ball was addressed I locked at the top of my swing causing complete loss of rhythm so destroying the ability to strike properly.As I say after trying everything else I decided to practice without a ball and just concentrate on using the golfswing to throw a club at an imaginary flag actually letting go of the club.The results after a few weeks was dramatic.I started feeling the club swinging rather than hitting the ball,in fact I felt able to separate the two feelings,if I swung at the ball the hesitation of the yips came in,but when I just concentrated on throwing the club the ball became secondary,it was just in the way of the swing.My rhythm started to return,I no longer wanted to hit an object,just felt the feeling of a smooth swing which is so satisfying.Perhape the brain can only do one thing at a time and if by thinking of the throwing idea it bypassed the yips who knows.Thank you for understanding the yips that kept me at it,Ron
I’m exactly the same, practice swings perfect, hit a nut on the ground fine, or tee but place the ball on the tee and it’s like my UPPER BODY and UPPER ARMS are frozen.
For me, the club tends to go bouncing up and down behind the ball and even bounces along the ground behind the ball by up to 18 inches. It generally gets worse the longer the club is, by chipping and pitches have improved a lot, perhaps being the best part of my game now, used to be the worst. I tend to practice this pitches and chipping most now as I don’t have an issue getting the SW away, bunkers very good also.
2 years ago I was on a 2 handicap, currently 11, had 39 points with NO SATISFACTION at all, I only want my FULL SWING YIPS to go away.
I’m 60 and used to play most senior amateur events in my state in OZ, but I’m now TOO EMBARRASSED to play with people I don’t really know, I think the extra pressure playing these events with PLUS handicappers may have been a major cause.
I also started caring for my 88 year old mother about 2 years ago and she’s diagnosed as bipolar with schizophrenia. She was admitted to an aged care facility about 4 weeks ago and doing well.
I chip and pitch every day at home very well, great technique and tempo, but put me on the golf course and I’m like a 20 handicapper, quickly snatching the club away to try and start the golf swing, but it’s the hands and arms moving, not the body.
I’m sick of it, don’t enjoy playing golf anymore, stopped playing a few times this year.
Thanks for you tip, I’ll see if I can focus on throwing the club when I’m practicing, just have to careful no one is standing in front of me.
Please keep in touch, I’m desperate.
Dear Ken, good to hear from you.One of the most frustrating things of the backswingyips is that other players do not understand the problem and you cannot even reason it out yourself.it seems illogical to be able to swing naturally at any other object put on the tee but when a golf ball is addressed you cannot bring yourself to strike it without locking up.This is why I started to practice without the ball,I go to my club when it is quiet and when out of site I literally stand on the tee and play the hole just hurling the club towards the flag and keep doing this right up the fairway(If anyone saw me they would think I was potty) but its working for me .It takes time for the brain to get use to this but you g
et this lovely rhythmic swing start developing and when you go on the range you can feel the ball becoming secondary and you can almost divorce it from your swing so eliminating the yips.This does not happen immediately ,I was practicing like this for a few weeks before action started feeling natural and everday I go in the garden to practice throwing the club at an imaginary odject.When you have had this curse for over fifteen years it does not go away easily but as you progress your confidence grows that when you tee up you just feel the new action and the yips although you can not help thinking about them seem to be insignificant.Maybe this only works for me but if your like what I was you will try anything and if it does help you I will be so pleased for you,goodluck,Ron
The concept can work for everyone – let go of the outcome of having to send the ball to a specific place and
the fear of the outcome that it won’t.
I’d love to hear about more golfers trying this method! Once again, nice work Ron!
Greens and Fairways,
Geez . I thought I was the only one . Its pretty ugly especially on the tee . I tried a technique that is helping . Practice swing is perfect . Put the ball on the tee and feels like my arms cant get to the ball . Now , I tee it up . Take easy practice swings ABOVE the ball, back and and forth , back and forth , maybe 5 times , without stopping … then (its almost like I try to trick my brain ) , suddenly , on one swing , I swing back and swing down TO the ball . Sometimes its after 4 swings , other times after 5 or 6 . It seems that once I ve developed a rhythm swinging over the ball , its easier to just GO , as opposed to setting up behind a teed up ball , stopping , tightening up and then starting . At first I was worried on the first tee of taking too long or how I would look , but if it helps , who cares , it really only take a few seconds .
Thanks so much for sharing this George. I hope it helps others.
Greens and Fairways,
Ron, this is brilliant, thank you so much for sharing with us.
I might highlight something you wrote: “I started feeling the club swinging rather than hitting the ball”
The ball represents an outcome. When the brain is locked onto that, it triggers a subconscious response of fear.
One of the most common responses that all creatures have is to “freeze” in order to survive a situation.
You have been able to lock your brain (and focus) on to the feelings of a swing and thereby not triggering the
fear response. This sounds like a great way to do it!
Greens and Fairways,
A little confused, are there multiple parts to this article?
Yes, here’s part 2: https://break80golf.com/fix-golf-swing-yips/
Greens and fairways,
In the last 3 months I have gone from my fairway woods being my favorite clubs to not even taking them out of the bag. I have only been playing for 3 years but started pretty aggressively, taking lessons and hitting the range a couple of times a week. I have a 20 handicap and love the game, or I should say did. My issue is a weird twitch my right hand does before I even take the club back, that’s if I can even get myself to swing at all. I literally feel anxious and sick to my stomach if I try to hit those clubs, sometimes it drifts into my hybrids or my driver but I have been able to get past that most of the time. I really felt like I was well on my way to breaking 90 this year, please tell me there is a way to fix this, I know it has nothing to do with my swing and everything to do with my brain. I tend to be very hard on myself in everything I do and over think things. I know that’s not helping but cant’ figure out what to do.
A little desperate…..
I hear your pain about this. Yes, this is definitely fixable but it’s not an easy fix. There are some instructors who can come up with a “workaround” for your swing that bypasses the mechanical movement. This works sometimes but mostly doesn’t. A great example of that is Charles Barkley not being able to be fixed by none other than Tiger Woods’ instructor, Hank Haney.
Bottom line, it’s mental/emotional as you suggested. The unconscious mind generally creates blocks like this to interfere with your game in order to reduce your stress. Golf is “optional stress” and your “stress glass” is probably overflowing. The unconscious mind’s job is to run your body and it can’t do it very well under stress. Thus, it comes up with a solution…a mental block in a non-necessary activity in your life.
The solution is highly personal and so you’d basically have to work with me or someone like me to unwind the stress. I work with athletes all over the world via Skype. See: http://sportshypnosiswest.com
Greens and fairways,
Thank you for the reply, as frustrating as this is it actually helps to have someone who knows this is a real thing. Most people think I’m crazy and give advise like; your just looking up or slow your swing down, not understanding it’s not my physical swing that is the problem, its in my head. This makes sense because I have what some would call “control” issues 🙂 and am very hard on myself to be perfect at what I do. I think I will try hypnosis, I have worked on lots of things to try and “interrupt” my brain on the range but it doesn’t work on the course.
I really love golf so I hope I can work through this.
I’ve worked with many athletes for such mental blocks. Once had a golfer who couldn’t finish his swing if he saw his shadow during the backswing. Problem was the same thing I told you. Stress. Hard on yourself, perfectionism…both big stress generators.
I developed the full swing yips about 4 years ago. I was a scratch player when this happened. I freeze at the top of my backswing for several seconds before I can start the downswing. My weight is shifting forward long before my arms start bringing the club down. Depending on how long the freeze happens dictates what kind of contact I make. Sometimes I completely freeze and I have to back away and start over. I’m lucky to break 90 now. This only happens on the golf course when I’m going to hit. It does not happen in the practice swing on the golf course. It also does not happen on the driving range. I can still hit the ball like a low handicapper on the range without any freezing at the top of my backswing. I even try to make it happen on the driving range by thinking about it and it does not happen. Any thoughts about what I can do.
Thanks for writing. I understand where you are coming from. I hate to say it but there’s no magic trick to fix this issue as you describe. It is definitely fixable, yes. Your unconscious mind has seen fit to inject this problem into your game for good reasons for your overall life but not for your golf. From my experience in working with countless athletes with mental blocks such as this, it all comes down to stress. I talk more about this in free videos here:
Greens and fairways,
I developed this same issue last year and cannot overcome this. It happens mostly with my driver but sometimes creeps in on my irons. I was a single handicap and won our club championship and now can barely break 90’s.. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to actually swing the club. It takes a really great competitor to actually play like this. I am going to take a break from golf but would really like to play again without the struggles. I actually would not mind shooting high scores if I could swing the clubs without the “Charles Barkley” like symptoms. If anyone has any suggestions I would be glad to hear…….
Hi Anonymous, I have created a training with 3 free videos. Go to fromrangetocourse.com to get started.
Greens and fairways,
I have the take away yips, I stutter on takeaway and it throws out my timing completely, I start the take away and can’t help but to sort of stutter just off the ball and then all rhythm is gone and power etc. is lost. I’ve suffered for years but its getting worse. I’m now 60 and had a single figure handicap for more than thirty years playing on experience only . every now and then something clicks and it all works but rarely now. Can you help?
It’s my opinion that if you can’t fix the yips with a mechanical change or drill (like Hank Haney couldn’t do with Charles Barkley), then
the reason for the yips is negative emotions stored in the muscle cells. Each time golfers have a miss, mistake, or choke and isn’t
released, it gets stored and eventually builds up to become the yips. It’s the unconscious mind’s way of telling us that some things
need to resolved internally. I have a process inside my golfselfhypnosis.com membership site that deals with that. It works when nothing
Greens and fairways,
Hello i’m 22 and play off a 2 handicap, i was a plus 1 handicap when i was 16 and was the probably the best up and coming player in my county i played in competitions all over England. I was hoping to have a playing career as a professional. However when i was 18 i started feeling stuck over my putting it would take me quite a while to take the putter back i tense up and sometimes hold my breath. It then creeped into my full swing. I have tryed waggles and different routines and some days it goes but it is always in the back of my mind when i play infront of people. I have shot some great scores feeling stuck but also had some terrible days. I work at a golf club and think about golf eveyday i hit balls mostly everyday and always think about not getting stuck. I’m searching to find my swing that i had in my younger days and i know i can get through this just need some mental help please.
I hear you loud and clear and hear this type of thing often from golfers. Did you see my free video training that explains this?
Bottom line, you’ve got clear some interfering programs at the unconscious level that keep generating fear response.
Greens and fairways,
I have the putting yips every single putt over 2 feet. I have the chipping yips about 50% of the rounds and about 3-4 chips within those 50% of rounds.
I have the dreaded god awful want to kill myself full swing yips too. They don’t happen every round but 33% of the rounds and within those yipping rounds probably 3 full swings—almost all from off the teeing ground regardless of club.
Yes, I have all three regularly within a round. Otherwise I fit the profile. Sensitive, over analytical, decent skills (5 hcp). Yesterday, yipped every single putt (meaning I felt a twitch, a “hit” every single stroke except a few 1-2 footers).
I twitched on 3 chips and 3 full swing shots. Those full swing yips generally cost about 1.5 strokes each given out of bounds penalties, water penalties and lost ball penalties.
I am ready to sign up for Kubistant’s CDs but your review or his words? say that all three never occur to the same person at the same time. Since I know that to be false I’m concerned that the remedies offerred also have the same flaw.
By the way, I have had extensive “help” with these yips from sports psychologists, counsellors, NLP, EFT, golf pros specializing in yips, etc. on and on, probably forked over $10,000 or more easily.
It’s been my experience that when you have tried all the fixes for the yips, you’ve got to do some inner mind digging and find out why you think the unconscious mind has created this problem. If you have cleaned up the junk from your past then you want to look at your present and see where you are creating internal conflict and/or patterns of stress. Sounds like a message to get healthy or on purpose in some way or form.
Greens and fairways,