Is there finally a cure for yips?

‘Yips’ The silent destroyer of many a professional sportsman’s career

‘Yips’ is a weird almost comical sounding word, but for those sportsmen that are unfortunate enough to suffer with this debilitating condition, their life can be a living hell!

What is it? How does it affect a player? Is there a cure?

Yips is a condition that affects the mental side of a player’s game. Often occurring in sports where the player is playing a relatively easy shot and has a lot of time to think. From my experience of working with players from a different range of sports, if you go back through the player’s life there is often a past traumatic experience where the problem started. Another bad experience subsequently gets stored in the subconscious and compounds the problem. This ever building pool of negative emotion gets triggered by pressure and will sabotage the player when they least expect it.

Easy two foot putt

For a golfer he may be standing over a crucial two foot putt . . .

As he swings the club the muscles in his hands go tense tight and a subsequent involuntary muscle twitch slices the ball way past the hole. This may be his first experience or perhaps it’s happened before. Imagine now this is being show on television and he has to play his next shot, he never quite knows when this twitch or jerking movement will happen again . . . how do you think he feels?

How bad can it be?

The term yips apparently was brought to light by a Scottish golfer Tommy Armour. In 1927 he had just won the Us Open, a month later he was playing the Shawnee tournament on the 17th hole he took 23 shots . . .

Many players in an attempt to free themselves of the yips will change their grip, stance and practice more. Often the condition gets worse, another bad experience is stored in the memory bank and as you can imagine the likelihood of it happening again increases. The thrill of competing is replaced by dread, the fear of being embarrassed, humiliated and the only option for many is to give up the game they once loved.

Yips is one of the reasons golfers use a belly putter, (perhaps a topic for another post). Does it affect many golfers? Incredibly, the yips affects between one-quarter and one-half of all mature golfers.The great Sam Sneed and Ben Hogan were forced to give up the game they loved because of the trauma of  suffering with this condition.

Although conventional sports science is aware of the dire consequences of this condition, it often is unable to help the player.

Other sports and sportsmen that can struggle with yips are:

  • Snooker – World champions Steve Davies and Stephen Hendry later on in their careers found nervous tension made it difficult to hold the cue steady and both gave up because of the pressure
  • Cricket– spin bowlers struggle to let go of the ball
  • Bowls – Due to muscle tension players find it impossible to bowl in a straight line
  • Tennis – professional players find it difficult to place the ball in the air for their serve
  • Baseball – players are unable to throw the ball
  • Darts – the condition is called dartitis – World champion Eric Bristow suffered with this and at times found it difficult to let go of the dart
  • Archery – is called the grips when archers are unable to release the arrow

The problem is a mental one, and because the self sabotage is coming from the subconscious no amount of practice will help because, under pressure that negative vibration will take step up and take a bite when you lest expect it.

Real Hope

The good news is that energy therapies such as EFT can be used to access the subconscious and take the power out of the trauma, fears, and limiting beliefs of a player.

The Captain

Tony* was the finest bowls player in his club and had been for years. He was the club captain, loved competing especially playing the pressure shots. If the game was close and his team needed a point, Tony enjoyed that feeling of being the go to guy – stepping up and delivering.

In one particular match however, the call came again, but as Tony stepped on the green he suddenly felt tense, tight, began thinking too much about the shot he was going to play and as he rolled the ball the muscles in his arm sent the ball way off target. As he lined up his next shot his heart started to race, the muscles in his arm and fingers tensed up again, with the feel and touch gone from his hands the ball again rolled way off target. As he walked back toward the pavilion he was too ashamed and embarrassed to make eye contact with his teammates.

Crushed and feeling like he let himself and teammates down Tony never recovered from that day. He tried to play again but the yips had got a hold of him, he tried changing his grip, different bowling stances, using positive affirmations but nothing helped. The muscles in his arm and hand got tighter more tense and he completely lost his confidence in his ability to roll the ball smoothly toward the target. This resulted in Tony giving up the game he loved, bowls was a huge part of his social life and was something that made him feel good about himself, all of this cruelly disappeared that afternoon.

The Comeback

17 years later Tony hearing about my work approached me for help.

I asked Tony to think back to that crucial match and imagine how he felt, the strongest negative emotion? The strongest negative emotion was shame and just thinking back to that time the muscles in his stomach and arm felt tense, tight. We used ‘tapping’ to take the destructive  power out of the memory of that traumatic experience, Tony felt lighter more relaxed and the tension in his body disappeared. The emotion changed to feeling embarrassed and then sadness that he had wasted so many years.

When he felt calmer, more relaxed we tapped on how he would like to play; calm, confident, trust himself and enjoy playing.

A week later he contacted me to say he practised playing bowls with a friend and couldn’t believe how relaxed he felt.

17 Years of suffering released in minutes

Following another session Tony played a match and was astonished that he could step on the green roll the ball free from tension and fear. 17 years of misery and suddenly he was free to play the game again he loved so much.

Is this a one off?  No, I have helped free a number of golfers and an international dart player from yips and a top young tennis player who suddenly couldn’t hit a backhand over the net.

I only say this to show the astonishing power of energy therapies

Different sports, often the same problem. A traumatic experience- unresolved- that is compounded with other negative experiences which create a negative vibration around the player 24/7, always looking for an opportunity to spoil the party.

The solution?

Good detective work combined with an astonishing technique offers real hope to those players out there who have struggled and maybe given up.

What price would golfers Lee Westwood and Marc Warren have paid for the use of a simple relaxation technique playing the final holes of the BMW PGA Championship?

Over to you, what have been your experiences? What have you tried, and has it helped? Have you struggled and been left frustrated and desperate? Please leave a comment or if you want to speak with me in confidence contact me at  for a free 20 minute consultation I’d love to help.

*Tony is not the bowls players real name

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