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Conquer Chipping Yips: Techniques to Improve Your Golf Game

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chipping yips

You’re standing over the golf ball, a mere 15 yards from the green, confident you can make that perfect chip shot. You’ve practiced this countless times and are ready to save par. But then it happens: your wrists lock up, your muscles tense, and the club head decelerates. The result? A lousy, bad shot that leaves you frustrated and embarrassed – if this sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. You’ve encountered the dreaded “chipping yips”. The good news is it is not a golfing death sentence and it is curable!

In this article, we’ll explore the causes of chipping yips, share proven techniques to beat them, and provide actionable tips and drills to help you improve your short game. So dive in and take that first step to cure poor chip shots!

What Are Chipping Yips?

Chipping yips are involuntary muscle spasms or jerky movements that occur when golfers attempt chip shots. They often result in shanked or chunked golf shots, increased scores, and a significant loss of confidence in one’s short game. Even professional golfers on the PGA tour can suffer from “chip yips”. It is well documented that Tiger Woods has struggled with the golf yips at some point in his career.

Causes of Chipping Yips

One of the most significant contributors to chipping yips is mental pressure. Fear of failure, self-doubt, and anxiety can trigger yips, causing your body to tense up and disrupting your smooth golf swing

However, physical issues such as muscle tension, poor technique, or misaligned body positions can also lead to chipping yips. These physical problems can prevent you from striking the ball cleanly and consistently with a leading edge.

Finally, your equipment may need to be better suited to your playing style or body type. For example, using the wrong club or an ill-fitting grip can lead to poor shots and chipping yips.

In certain situations on the golf course, a lob wedge can be an effective alternative to a traditional chip shot, especially when you need to hit the ball high and land it softly on the green. In addition, this high-lofted club can help you overcome chipping yips by offering more margin for error and allowing you to execute a putting stroke-like motion.

Maintaining a smooth, pendulum-like putting stroke can generate consistent contact with the ball and minimize the chances of fat or thin shots. This approach will also help you develop better control and feel around the greens, ultimately leading to lower scores and increased confidence in your short game.

How Do You Stop the Yips in Chipping?

Breathing Exercises

One effective way to combat chipping yips is by practicing deep breathing exercises before each shot. This helps relax your body, calms your mind, and reduces tension.

Visualization Techniques

Visualize the ideal chip shot from the trajectory to the landing spot on the green. This mental rehearsal can help you feel more confident and focused when you approach the ball.

Grip Changes

Experiment with different grip styles to find the best one for you. A lighter grip can help reduce tension in your hands and wrists, allowing for a smoother swing.

Stance Adjustments

Modifying your stance can also help alleviate chipping yips. For example, try shifting your weight forward, leaning the shaft towards the target, and positioning the ball closer to your back foot. This setup promotes a downward strike on the ball, leading to cleaner contact and better chip shots.

chipping yips

Equipment Modifications

Make the correct club selection for the shot, considering factors like distance, green conditions, and obstacles. Utilizing a variety of different clubs for chipping can help you become more versatile and confident in your short game. Sometimes a sand wedge might not be the best option and you might be better off with a bump-and-run style shot with an 8 iron.

Custom Fitting

Invest in custom-fit clubs that are tailored to your body and swing style. This can significantly improve your overall performance and reduce your chances of getting the yips.

Effective Golf Chipping Drills and Exercises

Incorporating various drills and exercises into your practice routine can help you overcome the chipping yips and enhance your short-game performance. The following drills and activities focus on improving your technique, tempo, and mental toughness, which are critical components of successful chipping.

  • The Coin Drill

As mentioned earlier, place a coin on the ground and practice chipping the ball off the coin. This drill helps you focus on making clean contact with the ball, improving your precision, and promoting a more consistent swing.

  • The Towel Drill

Fold a towel and place it behind the ball. This positioning will force you to swing shallowly to avoid hitting the towel. This promotes proper technique and helps eliminate fat or thin shots.

  • The Landing Spot Drill

Choose a target or landing spot on the green and practice chipping toward it. Focusing on a precise target is the best way to improve your distance control and accuracy.

  • The One-Handed Drill

Practice chipping with only your left hand (lead hand) on the club. By removing the right hand (rear hand) from the equation you develop better control, balance, and feel for the club head through the impact zone.

chipping yips

Swing Tempo Exercises

  • Metronome Practice

Use a metronome to help you develop a consistent swing tempo. Swing the club in sync with the metronome’s beats, aiming for a smooth, rhythmic motion.

  • Rhythm Swings

Practice taking swings without a ball, focusing on maintaining a steady rhythm and relaxed muscles throughout the swing. This exercise helps you find your natural tempo and reduces tension during the swing.

  • The 4-4-4 Drill

Execute your swing in three stages—backswing, downswing, and follow-through—each taking four seconds to complete. This drill promotes a controlled, even tempo throughout your swing.

Pressure Training

  • Tournament Simulation

Recreate high-pressure situations, like tournament play or challenging shots, during practice sessions to build resilience and learn to perform under stress.

  • Challenge Yourself with Friends

Compete with friends or fellow golfers in friendly matches, setting goals and challenging each other to improve your short game and overcome chipping yips.

  • The Par-18 Drill

Create a nine-hole chipping course around the practice green, with varying distances and lies. Attempt to get up and down in two strokes or fewer for each hole, aiming for a score of 18 or lower. This drill simulates real on-course pressure and helps improve your ability to execute under pressure.

By incorporating these drills and exercises into your practice routine, you’ll overcome chipping yips and develop a more well-rounded short game. In addition, regular practice and dedication to improvement will also lead to greater consistency, confidence, and, ultimately, better golf scores.

Golf Mental Process to Cure the Chipping Yips

The mental aspect of golf plays a significant role in overcoming chipping yips. Developing a strong mental process can help you regain confidence, stay focused, and maintain a positive mindset on the course. Here are some key strategies to strengthen your mental game and combat chipping yips:

  1. Pre-Shot Routine

Establishing a consistent pre-shot routine is crucial for maintaining focus and reducing anxiety. This routine should include the following:

  • Visualization: Before each chip shot, take a moment to visualize the trajectory, landing spot, and roll of the ball. This mental rehearsal can help you feel more confident and focused when you approach the ball.
  • Breathing Exercises: Incorporate deep, controlled breathing exercises into your pre-shot routine. This helps relax your body, calms your mind, and reduces tension, allowing you to execute a smoother, more consistent swing.
  • Positive Self-Talk: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations and self-talk. Remind yourself of your abilities, past successes, and the progress you’ve made in your game. Positive self-talk can help you stay confident, even when facing challenging chip shots.
  1. Focus on the Present

Stay present and focused on the task rather than dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future outcomes. Concentrate on executing the current shot to the best of your ability, and let go of any negative emotions that may arise from previous poor shots.

  1. Setting Achievable Goals

Set realistic, achievable goals for your chipping performance. Then, break down big goals into smaller, more manageable steps, and celebrate your progress.

  1. Mental Toughness Training

Incorporate mental toughness training into your practice routine. This may include meditation, visualization exercises, and setting specific mental goals for each practice session. By strengthening your mental game, you’ll be better equipped to handle pressure and maintain confidentiality on the course.

Implementing these mental strategies can effectively combat chipping yips and elevate your golf game. Remember, the mental aspect of golf is just as crucial as physical technique, so invest time and effort into developing a strong mental process to conquer the chipping yips once and for all.

Additional Resources for Improving Your Golf Game

Professional Coaching

Consider working with a golf instructor or coach to help identify and address the root cause of your chipping yips. They can provide valuable guidance, personalized feedback, and tailored practice routines.

Online Tutorials and Videos

Search for instructional videos and tutorials from reputable sources like Golf Digest or Golf Magazine. These resources can offer valuable tips, drills, and techniques for improving your chipping.

Books and Articles on Chipping

Read books and articles on chipping techniques, mental game strategies, and golf tips from renowned golfers and coaches. These resources can help deepen your understanding of the game and inspire improvement.

Also, see our comprehensive guide on hitting chip shots

How did Tiger Cure Chipping Yips?

Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time, but even he struggled with chipping yips at one point in his career.

To cure his chipping yips, Tiger Woods worked with his coach, Sean Foley, to develop a new chipping technique. The technique involved using a more upright stance and a more aggressive swing to create more loft and spin on the ball. The idea was to take the hands out of the chipping motion and rely more on the body to create a smooth and consistent swing.

In addition to the new technique, Tiger also worked on his mental game. He focused on staying calm and relaxed during his chipping shots, visualizing the shot he wanted to make and trusting his instincts. He also worked on his breathing and relaxation techniques to help him stay focused and in control.

The combination of the new technique and an improved mental game helped Tiger overcome his chipping yips and return to his dominant form on the course. He went on to win several major championships and cement his place as one of the greatest golfers of all time.

Tiger’s experience with chipping yips is a testament to the importance of technique and mental preparation in golf. Even the best players in the world can struggle with their game, but with the right approach and mindset, they can overcome any obstacle and achieve greatness.

Bonus Tip – For the most comprehensive guide on chipping, including flop shots, bump and runs, and bunker shots, see our golf chipping page.

Conclusion

Overcoming chipping yips is possible with the right mindset, practice, and techniques. By understanding the causes, implementing the strategies above, and dedicating time to practice, you can regain confidence in your short game and enjoy lower golf scores

Remember, improvement takes time, hard work and persistence. Keep striving for progress, and soon you’ll be chipping your way to better golf scores!

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AUTHOR

Tommy is a confirmed golf fanatic. He's been playing golf for 20 years and just loves everything about the game. His dad used to play golf a lot and watch the PGA and European Tours, so Tommy started watching too. Now he knows a lot about golf and loves to coach people and help them play better.

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