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3 Steps to Help Players Overcome the Dreaded ‘Yips’2 min read

Posted on: 27th Jul 2012

A series of monthly articles by Dr Brian Hemmings, a leading psychologist in golf for many years. During this time he has helped develop the mental skills of the best emerging English golfers including the likes of Ross Fisher, Richard Finch, Danny Willett, Tom Lewis, David Horsey and Chris Wood.  

Putting: 3 Steps to Help Players Overcome the Dreaded ‘Yips’

Hugely feared, and  rarely discussed, the ‘Yips’ is a putting affliction which results in extreme technical, physical and mental difficulties for a player that can often lead to quitting the game.  Players who have experienced the yips  have reported uncontrollable shaking, trembling, involuntary movments, an  inability to move the putter back or forward, detached feelings, excessive anxiety, embarrassment and paranoia.

Try these 3 steps to get a player back on course:

1.  Work with the player to fully ‘reconstruct’ his/her stroke.  Bernhard Langer (right), who has overcome the yips twice, felt he had to change his stroke completely to feel he was executing a new skill.

2.  Start with the least stressful first (i.e. on your own on the practice putting green) and gradually move up to more stressful situations over time (i.e. competition play) as the fear of missing/making a ‘jabby/yippy’ stroke begins to lessen.   My experience shows that players realise it is largely a mental problem when they realise they can putt well when nobody else is around.

3.  The yips are about fears and  panic.  Help your player begin to challenge those fears.  What players begin to fear is the fear itself, not the missing of putts.  Get your player to stay with it and keep practising; withdrawal from golf will only feed the fear!


Dr. Brian Hemmings has been lead psychologist to England golf for over a decade. During this time he has helped develop the mental skills of the best emerging English golfers including the likes of recent BMW International Open champion Danny Willett, Ross Fisher, Richard Finch, Tom Lewis, David Horsey and Chris Wood. Brian is author of the book ‘Mental Toughness for Golf: The Minds of Winners’ and is also a regular presenter on the PGA CPD programme.

Brian has released a fully online Golf Psychology Coaching Certificate course that carries 100 PGA CPD points and has been completed with great reviews by PGA professionals.  Go to www.golfpsychologycoaching.co.uk  for full details.  The course is full of practical activities for the PGA professional to guide players through improving their mental game, and is endorsed by some of England’s best coaches.  You can complete the course at home so you will have no travel costs or time away from your work.  All you need is a player to work with and the time to complete the course activities.   For a price reduction type in the promotional code 2012 to reduce the price from £295 to £219.