Be honest. Does this sound familiar: I went from a scratch golfer to an 80 shooter because of the yips. I could get the ball up and down from anywhere and still can – if that feeling doesn’t come over me… It is un-explainable to people that don’t understand it. People want to talk about techniques, grip, and alignment, but - they have no clue what it is like to feel handcuffed prior to pulling the trigger on a shot. Only those who have experienced this phenomenon can understand that helplessness when it strikes.
If you’re anything like this, then the information that follows could be the most important mental golf tip you ever come across! That’s right. I’m going to tell you how to cure the yips, all by yourself. Well, in order to actually eliminate the yips, we have to understand the problem first. So, what are the yips? Very simply – the yips are a fear. This fear is so strong that it controls bodily functions and creates that jerky motion that makes putting impossible. If you have the yips, the first thing you notice is your breathing. When you have the yips, you breathe differently. That’s the first thing to change. And what makes the yips so interesting is that all of it is in your mind. And that’s also the key to getting rid of them. So, what can you do? Control your breathing. Start breathing deeply, in and out regularly. Andrea Furst, writer for the Ladies Europen Tour, wrote this great article on breathing. Check it out here:
[...] The technical time spent on breathing is referring to specific time spent on being aware of your breathing with the aim of making your breathing deeper and more effective. This is so that you are using your lungs to their full capacity and that you are able to get oxygen moving around your entire body to relax your muscles. Effective breathing is a true blend of physiology and psychology; the psychophysiology of performance. The physiology of breathing is an area worth reading more about so that you can fully understand and appreciate its benefits. The psychology of breathing provides something for you to focus on. Something that is simple. Something that is within your control. Something that doesn’t need anyone or anything else but you. Something that is in the present.
Simply put, if you can manage your heart rate via your breathing there is a good chance you will be able to control your emotions, which assists with your focus and ability to play the game to your maximum on any given day. Breathing is a superb tool for enhanced psychological recovery, jetlag, emotional management, and clarity of mind.
There are several ways that you can breathe. There are numerous resources that you can access to provide the information to teach yourself to breath for golf performance. Diaphragmatic breathing is one breathing technique that many players find helpful. Diaphragmatic breathing is smooth, deep, rhythmical breathing from the diaphragm.
Here are some basic guidelines to assist you learning diaphragmatic breathing:
• Get into a comfortable position such as lying down on your back with legs and arms flat on floor, slightly spread so that they are not touching your body. • Loosen neck and shoulder muscles. Drop your shoulders and lengthen your neck. • Clear your mind of worries and distracting thoughts and aim to focus on your breathing. • Pick a ‘focal point’ to direct your thoughts to your breathing. For example, counting your length of breathes, observing the movement of the diaphragm, or feeling of air moving into your nose and out of your mouth. • Take long, deep breaths. • Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.
INHALE deeply and slowly through your nose and notice how your body seems to lift up:
• Breathe from your diaphragm in a relaxed, easy manner, and then let the air fill and expand your central and upper chest. • Push your mid-upper abdominal region fully outward as you breathe in as you fill your lungs. • The inhalation phase should last about 5 seconds.
EXHALE through your mouth:
• You should feel the muscles in your arms and shoulders relax. • Your mid-upper abdominal region will fall as you breathe out when you empty your lungs. • As you breathe out and relax, you should begin to feel centred and well anchored to the ground. • Your legs should feel relaxed, yet solid and firm. • The entire exhalation phase should last about 7 seconds. • It is important to exhale slowly and steadily. [...]
So now you know how to cure the yips, all by yourself. The easiest thing for a person to do to change their game is to start control their breathing. Simply put: Take a deep breath in, hold it for a second, let it go with a sigh. All of your muscles relax instantly. Get in the habit of taking a deep breath and letting it all go before you take your next shot. Not only will you cure your yips, but you’ll get greater distance (because you will have also gotten rid of some of that tension!)
Have you overcome the yips? What did you do? Have you tried any breathing techniques while playing? Let me hear your thoughts on this in the comments section below.