Golf Yips Origins – Solutions

“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear” Edward Burke

There is a real mystery around yips in sport: Where do they come from? Is there a cure?

A number of players suffer with yips, ranging from professionals to high handicap social players. There have been many studies about how the mind and body is sabotaged by this condition, unfortunately with all the research, debate, there seems little optimism, hope about finding a solution.

I’d like to share with you how I’ve helped players over the years get back to playing the game they love, and say from my experience where the yips originate and how to release them.

The fear of the fear

Yips seemingly come out of nowhere, typically a player is about to putt, begins to feel a little off, tight tense and as they play the shot they feel an involuntary twitch in their arms which send the ball way past the hole. Often they’ll struggle through and finish the round seemingly okay. The next time they play that sense of doubt, unease is creeping in. Their confidence has taken a hit, the fear of the unknown is beginning to take hold of their mind and body.  With some players it can start to effect their approach shots, even driving off the tee.

It’s common now for players to experiment with changing grip, stance, club, have more coaching, beginning to over-analyse – things of often get worse!

Again some players find in practice they are okay, however soon as they step on the course the tension, anxiety, doubt is still there.   

A game they once loved becomes traumatic and begins to effect their health, their everyday life.

Yips have taken hold and is tightening its grip!

“Why has something that at one time seemed so easy, suddenly become so difficult?”  

From my perspective ‘what’s going on underneath’, how can I help?

The key is being able to understand the cause of yips – the emotional trauma being stored in the body from those bad experiences triggering the fight, fight, freeze response and having a tool to release that trauma.  

How I can help may test your belief systems, I use the body’s acupressure points to release the destructive underlying negative charge from the body. This technique is so effective it’s used to help soldiers suffering with PTSD.

What tends to happen if you have a bad experience, that experience (the trauma created by it) is stored in the body. The negative energy stays with the player, so when they try and play a similar stroke again and struggle – another negative charge is downloaded.

The Gatekeeper

We have this part of the brain (amygdala) it wants to keep us safe, always on the lookout for danger. Over time It becomes a bit of a scaredy cat. The players nervous system is often stuck in red alert following the trauma and gets easily overwhelmed. In a misguided attempt to save the player from embarrassment, shame, humiliation the body’s the fight or flight response is activated.

Using the body’s acupressure points we are able to release the trauma, calm the body’s nervous system, break that negative cycle helping the body feel it’s safe when playing.

The dream that turned into a nightmare

Tony* was one of the countries top amateur golfers, he had won his club championship for the past eight years. His goal was always to play on the tour and when he had the opportunity to realise his dreams, he turned professional.

Things were going well for a while until one day he stood over a putt that would win him a sizable amount of money if he made it. He took longer than he normally would to play the shot and missed. Frustrated and determined for that to never happen again, he practised more – his game got worse, that one time trust and belief he had, especially on putting deserted him.

By the time he came to see me he was desperate. Standing over a putt his arms would freeze and he found it difficult to actually move the club. Tony also had a reoccurring dream that he was standing over a putt with a door behind him, making it impossible to take the club back.

When I asked him how it used to feel when hitting a putt like that. He said: “I would follow my set up routine, see a line tracking its way to the hole and just hit it.” Now having given up his job, the pressure to earn money for his family and impress his sponsor has destroyed his game. The shame and embarrassment of what happened on that day and the sheer dread of having to play again, had turned his dream into a living hell.

A life transformed

When working with players I use a three step process;

  1. Identify the problem (often the trauma triggering the body’s fight or flight)
  2. Use the body’s acupressure meridian points to release disruptive negative energy
  3. Re-frame reprogram – when the player is calmer more relaxed his mind is more open to embracing the positive; how he would ideally like to play

Step One: I asked Tony to talk me through that first time it happened how he felt standing over that make able putt.

“On an energetic level how does that feel, even though it was probably a long time ago he scaled it about 8/9 out of 10.” I then asked, “What’s the strongest emotion you feel? “Frustration embarrassment, anger” I then asked if he could feel any stress/tension in his body – with such a experience people will often feel the stress in their body. Just talking about it, Tony could feel a tightness in his back, chest, tension in his arms and a tingling in his fingers. This is quite common with golfers

Step Two: We tapped on the body’s acupressure points, this sends calming messages to the brain, his nervous system that has been stuck in red alert following the trauma began to relax the trauma was beginning to be released.  We begin to break the negative cycle -releasing the trauma helping the body feel it’s safe when playing.

I asked Tony to take a deep breath and talk me through what happened again, the number dropped from an 8/9 to 6/7, the tension in his body was also less. Persistence is the key, more rounds of tapping, checking in to scale how he felt each time.

The number eventually dropped to around 2/3 and the tension/stress in his body was released. At this stage it became difficult for Tony to access the negative charge from that memory – which is quite common using tapping. Tony would still have the memory, however because the trauma had been released he felt able to leave it in the past – with the negative cycle broken we were able to move onto . . .

Step Three: With Tony feeling lighter, calmer we were ready to re-frame using performance psychology – how he would like to play. We tapped a few rounds focusing on how he felt when playing golf was fun and easy: “I would follow my set up routine, see a line tracking its way to the hole and just hit it.”  

Tony was able to go back on the tour and enjoy playing again. So this is just the start and just a brief overview of the process I use to help releasing players from the devastating grip of yips.

How can I talk with such certainty because I’ve seen the positive results again and again.

If your career is unraveling, or if you’re a social player who is struggling – just get in touch! Contact me for a free 15 consultation on 07818851643 or message me at

*Tony is not his real name

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