Cures For The Chipping Yips

Do have the chipping yips?

Do you play in fear of the chipping yips causing you embarrassment and ruining your scorecard?

Do you focus on it for most of the round and let it affect your enjoyment of the game?

I get contacted by hundreds of golfers every month who share their frustration about not being able to find cures for the chipping yips.

The embarrassment, the frustration, the confusion, the despair, the feeling of just wanting to walk off the golf course. It can become unbearable and eventually outweigh the enjoyment of playing.

It’s the highest pain point of any golfer.

I know I’m not making you feel any better at this point 😉

But here’s the good news…

I’ve managed to cure the yips in 99% of the players who have contacted me about it.

How do I do it? The first step is to recognize that the yips is a perpetual cycle, that plays out during every round. And this cycle needs to be broken to cure the chipping yips.

The Typical Chipping Yips Cycle

cures for the chipping yips

You start off each round with doubt about if/when the chipping yips is going happen. And so the cycle begins…

As you approach your ball after missing a green, that doubt gets stronger.

Instead of having 100% focus on the shot at hand (how you are going to play it, getting a good visual of what the shot will look like etc.), you start to think about how you are going to prevent a Yip happening. Your heart rate increases…

Some players with the yips even joke about it happening with their playing partners, in the attempt to alleviate some of the embarrassment when it actually happens. This negative reinforcement only helps the cycle continue.

Where is your focus?

Before a shot, your focus shifts to what negative outcomes “might happen”, instead of just sticking to your process. Any task you perform with that much concern about the outcome would be difficult.

When you’re over the ball, those preventative measures start to dominate your thinking. Instead of being fully engaged with your intention for the ball, there’s a disconnect from the target. Anything to prevent a yip and those feelings of embarrassment and failure, instead of just trusting yourself to hit the shot.

Chipping is about finesse and touch, which is why the most common form of the yips is the “chipping yips”. You have to use your eyes to tell your body how hard to hit a shot. A player with the yips might take a look at the target, but the conscious mind then starts to focus on “just making solid contact”, which overrides the subconscious “feel” for hitting it the right distance.

Elite players determine the right shot with their conscious mind (trajectory and landing spot) and let the subconscious make the swing (no interference from the conscious mind). Visualization is used to imprint the intention for the shot on the subconscious and then the rest is automatic. They don’t think about their swing at all.

The subconscious doesn’t understand “don’t”

When a player has the yips, they feed their subconscious negative outcomes, and their conscious mind tries to control the stroke and prevent those negative outcomes become a reality.

When you are reminding yourself what you don’t want, you are actually telling your subconscious what you “DO” want. Your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between a positive and a negative. It’s non-judgemental and non-critical and just accepts what it’s fed by the conscious mind. So if you’re putting negative images or feelings into it, you’re more likely to get the same out.

The result is a complete loss of connection with the shot and how hard to hit the ball, causing a yip.

Cures for the chipping yips

In order to find a cure for the yips, there’s a few things you can do:

1. Know what to focus on in between shots to displace thoughts about yipping
2. Follow a disciplined shot routine to keep your conscious mind focused on positives
3. Just letting go, engaging with the target and trusting your subconscious to play the shot
4. Getting better at responses to yips

To find out how to achieve these 4 things, sign up for my 3-part Cures For The Chipping Yips course below.

Photo by Jim Epler

Cures For The Yips


David MacKenzie

is a mental golf coach and lives in Washington DC. He is the founder of Golf State of Mind, a teaching program designed to help golfers condition their minds to overcome fear and play with confidence.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. blank

    I do think the thought of ‘negative outcome’ ruins all! … And I also think that the set up and stance is also important for Chipping issue

  2. blank

    David, I have played golf since I was 15/16 at junior level and got down to 13 and used to hit my irons really strong and struggled with the driver. My short game was not great but not “yippy” it was due to lack of practice rather than mental weakness. Now as my driving is better than ever I hit more fairways and can improve iron play but my chipping anything side 50 yards is no short of “basket case”. I can sometime produce the shot and that is almost more frustrating as I know it is there. On the practice ground I can float wedges ala Mickleson! Course and pressure just tighten up and can’t see how to hit the chip! To make matters worse I putt well but this part of my game is running my game and enjoyment.

  3. blank

    That is my problem as well. Instead of going into a hole for par or bogey, I’m thinking double because of poor short game. This weekend, I will try to focus on where I want to land the ball and try to put everything else (negative thoughts) out of my mind.

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