How to Cure the Yips During Chip Shots (Short Game Yips)

Do you have the chipping yips?

We’ve all had the chipping yips let’s be honest. They suck. You feel embarrassed, frustrated, confused, and sometimes wish you could just walk right off the golf course.

I can recall a tournament I was playing in where everything was going great and my score was contending for first place and all of a sudden I had the chipping yips out of nowhere.

To be honest, I was a bit shaken. I lost my confidence as I stood over chips the next few holes wondering if it was going to happen again.

When it happened, I was behind a bunker in the rough. I had to chip the ball over the bunker and onto the green to get up and down for par.

For some reason, I let conscious negative thoughts of chunking into the bunker creep into my head at the last second causing me to actually do it.

This left me with a shot from the bunker which is one of my weaknesses that I don’t practice a whole lot. I ended up making double bogey on the hole as a result of the chipping yips and poor control over my mental game.

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What are the chipping yips?

The chipping yips are a mental lapse where your body and mind aren’t in sync and you lose the fluid and free flowing swing you usually naturally produce when chipping. In the case of the yips, your body tenses up and tries to over-control the golf shot instead of letting it happen naturally.

What causes this over control is your mind and where your mind is focused. When you have the chipping yips it’s usually a result of your mind worrying about the negative outcomes that could occur instead of focusing on the proper shot at hand to successfully play.

Once it happens, you’re going to get stuck in a vicious cycle if you don’t learn to break it and regain confidence.

You approach the next chip shot in doubt and fear about if the chipping yips are going to happen again. As you set up to the ball, the doubt gets even stronger and you feel your heart rate increasing. Your arms and muscles may tense up and feel hard to control.

Instead of being zoned in and focused on where you’ll land the shot, how it will roll, and where it will end up on the green, your mind is thinking about how you’ll prevent the yip from happening.

You’re letting the yips win by thinking about them. It’s the same as in basketball when someone let’s their competitor get in their head. You have to block out these thoughts and win the mental war.

Some golfers will even joke to their playing partner about it happening ahead of time in order to relieve the pain if it actually happens. Don’t do this!

You are reinforcing negative thoughts into your subconscious and letting the yips defeat you. Talk positively to yourself, “I will land this ball on my target landing spot and watch it roll beautifully to the cup for a short make-able putt.”

Keep your focus on visualizing the perfect golf shot you are about to play to get up and down for par. Don’t think ahead to what if you make bogey. Don’t think into the past of how you had the chipping yips. Keep your mind focused on the present situation and what you’re going to do successfully in your next shot.

Chipping is about finesse and touch, which is why the most common form of the yips is the “chipping yips”

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To defeat the chipping yips, professional golfers use their conscious thought to determine the best shot to play. They look at trajectory the ball will fly, the landing spot it will come down on, and the roll upon landing. They are visual and creative in their approach.

When they step up to hit the shot, they let their subconscious make the golf swing and shut off their conscious mind from thinking. The visualization they did prior to the shot is the image imprinted into the subconscious to make the chip automatic.

Remember, if you don’t turn off your conscious thought during the swing, you’ll override the system and force control the swing which will be unnatural and cause a poor outcome.

That’s why you feel a jerky, awkward swing or putting stroke when you have the chipping yips and putting yips.

Finally, you’re likely asking “Nick, what’s a drill I can do to cure the chipping yips?” so let’s finish off this lesson with a mental drill.

Golf Mental Process to Cure the Chipping Yips

  1. While walking between shots, keep your mind focused elsewhere to displace any negative thoughts of yipping from creeping into your head.
  2. Once you get up to your ball, have a habitual pre-shot routine you follow, giving yourself a structured plan and reinforcing confidence into your mind that you are ready to hit the shot
  3. Take a deep breathe prior to hitting the shot to release tension and focus on the target spot you are going to land the ball.
  4. Visualize one more time the ball flying and landing on your intended spot and rolling across the green to the hole
  5. Let go of all thinking and trust your subconscious to play the shot

It takes practice to train yourself to shut down thinking right before and during a golf shot. Work on trusting your swing in practice and work on visualizing positive outcomes. You want to feed your subconscious mind with positive thoughts only in order to produce positive results.

Hope this lesson helps and you break your cycle of the chipping yips.

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Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.

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Nick Foy, Instructor

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