Being a mental coach for golf, I get many golfers contacting me each week about the chipping and putting yips.
The studies that have been done on the yips show that in 70% of cases the yips are caused, or made worse, by performance anxiety.
Curing The Yips By Lowering Performance Anxiety
Whenever you focus on something you fear, you probably notice certain changes in your body and mind. Your heart beat gets quicker, your muscles tighten and perhaps shake, your breathing gets shallower and your thinking is not as clear. Any of these symptoms of performance anxiety are not conducive to getting the best out of yourself on the golf course, no matter what level of player you are.
The more you focus on the yips and how that is going to make you feel, the more performance anxiety builds up.
But what most golfers with the yips don’t realize, is that a lot of this performance anxiety can be avoided, by simply not focusing on the yips during your rounds. This might sound easier said than done, but I’ve got some ideas for you.
Notice what you are focusing on
This is the first step in lowering performance anxiety is simply noticing what you are focusing on. Even just thinking about something you fear for a few seconds can start to change your mood and increase performance anxiety. So when you notice yourself thinking about yipping either before or during your rounds, make sure you re-frame with some positive self-talk or just focus on something else.
Something that I work on with my students, many of whom play golf for a living, is being able to stay more present before a round and in between shots, which quiets the mind and lowers performance anxiety. After all 90% of a round of golf is spent in between shots, when you’re not hitting the golf ball.
Stay more present and lower performance anxiety using breathing techniques
Consistent rhythmical breathing is the best way to lower performance anxiety and help you stay more present. So before your rounds and in between shots, just focus on your breathing techniques for golf. You might try “Box breathing”, which is inhaling through your nose to the count of 4, holding for 4, exhaling through your mouth to the count of 4 and then holding for 4 and repeating that over and over, until you notice your heart rate lower and nerves subside. Focusing on the counting will also occupy your conscious mind and distract you from thinking about the yips.
Give this a try and I’m confident you’ll take a positive step towards curing the yips by lowering performance anxiety.