Golf Putting Yips -3
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.
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