Do I really need to define the phrase ‘putting yips’? I am certain that every golfer has played through a period of the putting yips. The lack of confidence before even striking the ball definitely contributes to our flat stick woes. We sometimes get to a point where we feel it is impossible to fix this challenge. I am here to say that it is possible to eliminate the putting yips by finding the solution that works best for you. Today, I have one that might work for your game, so keep reading and let me know what you think.
“The yips is the colloquial term for a sudden and unexplained loss of skills in experienced athletes. Symptoms of the yips are losing fine motor skills and psychological issues that impact on the muscle memory and decision making of the player which creates a failure to perform basic skills of the sport.” (Wikipedia)
First, I believe that all yips are rooted in our mental preparation for any shot. The lack of confidence and defeatist attitude before even striking the ball leads to a case of the “cant’s”. This negative step in turn leads to a breakdown in our game and failure to confidently hit the golf. Therefore, when I get a case of the yips, I focus on improving my mental approach and focus to each shot. In the video below, the advice given by Johnny Miller is very good and something I do inadvertently. Take a look:
By focusing on something other than the contact spot on the ball, you mind is forced to forget about many aspects of the yips and lets your putting stroke take over. Yes, hitting the ball or at least contact with the ball will our putter should be automatic. This excludes any swing thoughts. Thinking during the actual swing is not a good idea; we must let our natural putting stroke take over after we committed to the shot.
For me, I focus on the top of my putter. I am not an advocate of not seeing contact (old school training from other sports), but I do allow my mind to focus on something other than the plethora of stressors involved in putting the ball. By focusing on the alignment line on top of my putter, I force my mind to exclude all other swing thoughts. This helps reduce the putting yips because I am mentally focused on something other than my putting stroke; I allow my natural swing to take over. For me, this mental focus helps improve my putting by reducing the 1000 swing thoughts that can occur in an instant during contact.
There is no one solution to defeating the putting yips. The solution mentioned in the video above has many variations. The point is to allow your natural putting stroke take over the process of putting. This is definitely easier to say than do; just ask any player struggling with the putting yips. Regardless, I believe that the root of this terrible affliction is rooted in our mental approach to each shot and that is where I focus my efforts when I consistently struggle with puttting or any other golf shot.
When I play golf, I try to limit the number of distractions. These mental bombardments detract from my focus and as a direct result, my scores become higher. Wandering around the course happens from time to time; it is something I try to avoid, but alas it happens. The challenge I have about ‘forgetting the noise’ is that it takes all different forms and figuring out a specific solution does not always do the trick. So, I have developed my own ‘one process fits all’ that keeps the noise at bay so I can stay focused on my game.
Have you ever found your mind wandering when playing golf? Well, of course you have not! You are a seasoned, elite golfer who has laser focus on every shot. If this was only the truth…..right? Distraction can come in all forms, but mostly it happens when there is some doubt in your mind on which shot to play next. This indecision opens the door for any distraction to creep in and cultivates a condition that elicits poor play and higher golf scores. Unfortunately, once we start being distracted, it is a real challenge to get our laser-like focus back. However, I have a way that works for my game and thought it might help yours as well.
Have you ever played a round of golf where nothing of interest every happens? You know, the rounds when you are hitting the ball okay, chipping, okay and putting okay. Your scoring is average and not matter what your thought processes are, no magic rears its head to be marveled at. It is a bland round and mentally, there is nothing you can do to prevent this mediocre round for unfolding any differently. It is as if you might as well as stayed home and cut the grass.
We have all played a round of golf where we shot ourselves into a situation that requires a needed shot. You know what I mean when I suggest that the pressure mounts after hitting a poor shot and a solid shot is required to recover from your poor performance. Or you are in a scramble and all of your team mates are out of play and they all look to you to save the hole. There are many situations where hitting a needed shot is critical to keep a good round going. I think I have the solution or at least on that works for me!
The pressure shot I am suggesting does not have to be anything special. Sometimes we need to hit a great wedge from the middle of the fairway to set up par. Sometimes we have to manufacture something, but those shots are in a different category. I think the most common example would be putting a 3 footer for par on any hole. Making that putt more often than not is hitting a shot when needed to keep your score low. Lets go back to 150 yards and work on my solution from that distance.
The picture should give you part of my answer to success under pressure and producing that needed shot on demand.
Regardless of what situation we found ourselves in on the golf course, committing to whatever shot you selected is critical to lower golf shores. It is important to quiet the white noise and focus on success. Banishing the negative thoughts and self-doubt is all part of committing to your shot. When you take that positive step towards relieving the mounting pressure, the second part of my process kicks in.
Follow your routine as if there was no pressure on the shot. Yup, it is that simple. Follow the same pre-shot routine, shot execution and finishing your shot as per normal. Do not try to do anything different because when you do the results are not what you had intended. Play your normal game after committing to the shot. Focus on the results you want versus what you don’t want. This mental focus will allow you to hit any shot on demand during all situations.
Committing to your shot and following your routine are the two steps I use when hitting that pressure shot when needed. It might seem too simple, but I have notice over the years that most amateurs change their shot making routine because they believe they need to do something special. I would suggest that keeping things as simple as possible and relying on your skill (whatever level) to make the shot is the best path to success. Why change things and bring in an additional element of risk during a pressure shot.
So, the next time you need a specific shot; step back and take your time. Commit to your shot and execute it as per your normal game. You will find that you are far more successful and the results will be satisfying.