Tip From the Archives

Driver Yips

Problem

Your tee shots are very unpredictable and you cannot pinpoint a cause for it. You might even notice a jerking sensation in your arms or hands at impact.

Cure

Small spasms or twitching of the muscles in the arms at impact causes an unpredictable clubhead movement, just as you see with the putting yips. When you suffer from the yips, the way your brain and muscles controlling your hands communicates is disrupted somehow, causing you to unintentionally move the club in anticipation of contact. As you would with the putting yips, you need to change the way you perceive the point of impact either mentally or physically.

Therapy

Try different gripping styles with or without overlapping your fingers and see if this helps. Start by aligning your fingers onto the grip or squeezing the grip with your palms and then wrap your fingers around it for support. This can change the way your brain interprets the signals it receives from your hands. The simplest way to cure the driving yips is to change your preshot routine trigger. For example, one golf pro says that her trigger is to touch her golf bag and it mentally prepares her to swing. Try changing your key thoughts as you swing. These are thoughts you use to improve your swing; such as, keep your head down or make a full follow through. Most people watch the ball as they make contact and think: keep your eyes on the ball. One thing you could do is to start staring at your nose instead of the ball. This requires that you trust the way you set up to the ball and your swing. The benefit to this is that it reduces your anxiety or simply changes the way your brain interprets the swing in hopes to prevent the yips.

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13 votes

 
charles pollack | 9 years ago, mid-August

I get the yips as I start my back swing with short and medium irons. It is a jerky move which throws my swing off. I would appreciate any help for my problem.

charles pollack | 9 years ago, mid-August

I get the yips as I start my back swing with short and medium irons. It is a jerky move which throws my swing off. I would appreciate any help for my problem.

james | 8 years ago, at the start of May

My problem, in looking at my swing, occurs at the top of my backswing the instant before I start my downswing. My left wrist breaks over and the club gets loose and throws the plane off. All the other mechanics of my swing are solid but this issue continues to plague me. i can't even feel the move which irritates me to no end.

Barbara Smith | 8 years ago, mid-August

Three years ago I gave up golf because of driving yips. They started at a time when I was playing my best golf. I suddenly felt a movement as I took my back swing and from then on I couldn't drive in anticipation of it happening again. At one point I froze on my back swing. My stableford points went down as low as 3, and I lost a national matchplay final because of them. After a break of six months I started playing again and they had gone. However, it has returned several times since then but only for short periods. Each time I manage to fend them off after a few games. The sad thing is that I don't enjoy my golf nearly as much now because whenever I get close to a final or an important match, I have fears that they will return.

Themba | 7 years ago, mid-December

I too have been suffering from this nasty experience. Mine happens mostly with my driver and irons, including chipping and bunker shots. I freeze just as I need to take the club back to start the backswing. I have developed a trigger, which unfortunately leads to reverse pivot. It sometimes gets so bad that I tee before my playing partners have shut up and this seems to work as my focus is less on the ball, but this works in the middle of a bad round. The tighter the game, the worse it gets. I have tried banging the club on the ground, but the fear of slowing play is what is making me force myself. I really need help

Darlene | 6 years ago, mid-March

I have been struggeling with Driver Yips for 1 1/2 years and am about ready to walk away from the game. Our life revolves around golf so this is especially difficult. It has always been my favorite club & strength. It happened so fast in one round and suddenly I couldn't feel the club at the top of the swing. As a result I didn't know where the club was and the result was a swing that could go anywhere along with the ball. I am such a feel player and when something feels wrong, I'm lost. I have tried putting weight on my club head. I have a new driver that has adjustable weights on it. I read The Inner Game of Golf by W.Timothy Gallwey and his suggestions helped for awhile but I am now lost again and feel like I'm going crazy. It's nice to know that this is a real thing and I'm not alone but I really need to find a cure that will stay. I have been a former Club Champion and played on our golf team for years and now I don't know if I can even play with the ladies this year. Any suggestion?

Darlene | 6 years ago, mid-March

I have been struggeling with Driver Yips for 1 1/2 years and am about ready to walk away from the game. Our life revolves around golf so this is especially difficult. It has always been my favorite club & strength. It happened so fast in one round and suddenly I couldn't feel the club at the top of the swing. As a result I didn't know where the club was and the result was a swing that could go anywhere along with the ball. I am such a feel player and when something feels wrong, I'm lost. I have tried putting weight on my club head. I have a new driver that has adjustable weights on it. I read The Inner Game of Golf by W.Timothy Gallwey and his suggestions helped for awhile but I am now lost again and feel like I'm going crazy. It's nice to know that this is a real thing and I'm not alone but I really need to find a cure that will stay. I have been a former Club Champion and played on our golf team for years and now I don't know if I can even play with the ladies this year. Any suggestion?

Patrick | 6 years ago, mid-June

I suffer from a similar affliction that is ruining golf for me. I?m a single digit handicapper that drives like a 35 handicap. The ball could go anywhere or nowhere. Usually it goes right off the planet? either the left or right side. Sometimes I top it and try to push it straight down to China. It?s been 3 years of torture. Before that I rarely ever had issues. I found this article which gave me some hope that at least I?m not alone (before finding this thread we are on): http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HFI/is_8_55/ai_n13467303/?tag=mantle_skin;content Interesting that Hank suffered the same thing. The only thing that has had some positive impact for me to date is an impact bag. I?m using it to remove all swing thoughts and take it down to a physical level? just using my muscles to beat the impact bag. On the tee, I visualize hitting the impact bag and not the ball. That?s been the best thing I?ve come up with to date.

Ben | 6 years ago, at the end of August

Ihave had backswing yips for at least 10 years. In my case I can't initiate the backswing,just freeze .there is one solution that for me works but it is a little drastic. When you are over the ball make small forward swing over the ball and use this momentum to go straight into your backswing . Hope this may help

houstonyid | 5 years ago, at the start of April

For me the only cure(ish) was to tee it real low and hit with my body not arms. I hardly break my wrists on the backswing. I hit is shorter and with a fade but at least on the golf course. Hope this helps someone - wish I'd read it 4 years ago (when I was a 4!).

Steve | 5 years ago, at the end of July

I've had full swing yips on and off for about 10 years i got to a 10 handicap and then they got really bad again and went back to 15. I'm at my wits end i didn't think any body out there knew what i was going through. Nobody at my club seems to know whast happening or how to cure this. I can hit the ball ok on the range but not on the first tee, i don't suffer from this when i putt. please can anybody HELP?

eric | 5 years ago, at the start of August

I have the same thing going on that Steve has. On the range I'm fluid and smooth. But when i get to the tee box i get in some kind of daze like i cant hit the ball. Driver, iron it doesnt matter. then i recover and make plenty of boogies and pars. but the funny thing is that from time to time i play perfect. driving the ball solid then its gone again. I too want to quit but i got game and i want to play. help

Conor | 5 years ago, mid-October

great to know I'm not alone. I've had this problem for 30 years. any full shot is the issue. No problem chipping putting or from bunkers. my handicap has gone from 5 to 12 back to 5 during a summer of remission following a read of Bob Rotella's Golf is not a game of perfect. i'm back to square one again however and off 13 now. my problem appears in my back swing which I get the feeling won't stop going back. I sometimes try to stop it or create a pause but this makes things worse. Infuratingly I've no problems banging balls into a net or on the range. Even playing on my own on the golf course this problem persists. I'm terrified there's no cure but am ever hopeful. any help or tips ?

Jason Formalyn | 5 years ago, at the start of November

I'm joining the club I don't want to join. I'm a 4 hcp'r that should be scratch but I've had the full swing yips for decades, recently returned after a long hiatus and returned with a vengeance. I twitch right at impact, my right hand flailing open (turning to the right) even though I want both hands to turn over to the left. I have actually sprained my right wrist as it violently turns right instead of left, at impact. Easy to pick out strains of similarity among all posters: generally single digit handicappers or better, long time golfers. I've had all the symptoms most of you have expressed. For years I couldn't chip so I had to open the SW pretty full and take mostly full swings---even from 4 or 5 yards. Then I couldn't even take back the driver (ala Robert Karlsson just prior to dropping out of the Open). Nothing has really worked but I'm going to try every suggestion that others here have said worked or is working for them. Leave no stone unturned. Fwiw I think this is not just a function of pressure although that usually precedes the yips. This is a function of bad brain wiring. So many people have this it couldn't really be solely psychological, just couldn't. Unscrambling the preset bad wiring is what I'm targeting.

Clayton Wallace | 5 years ago, mid-December

I feel your pain, everyone. I'm a pro playing on the Asia Pacific Champions Tour, and suffer with the driver yips on and off. I played last week and stoned every iron shot I hit- one of my birdies was a 185 5 I to 1 inch- yet every drive was a new adventure-no real feeling for where the clubhead is. Not a lot of fun. I have had success beating it sometimes by totally relaxing my shoulders and slowing everything down, but the yips come back eventually

caromik | 4 years ago, mid-November

I have the yips for a number of years, sometimes I can play fine and then out of the blue the swing breaks down even in the middle of a round. I just cannot trust my swing so therefore I never trust myself to represent my club it is so frustrating. I have also thought about chucking in the game but I keep hoping that someday I will conquer it.

fn hackendoosh | 4 years ago, mid-November

Fuck me....... I have it!

Boone La | 3 years ago, mid-May

I have been playing golf for 20 years plus, I am around 14 handicap.. The last 3 rounds I could not pull the trigger, I got stuck & had to reset, but could not pull the trigger. My shots go wild, high hooks, low & short. It seems that I am afraid to swing, afraid of the result? I practiced for 3 hours & have found a temporary cure! If I keep both feet together then I can pull the trigger. It seems to me that I did not over-turned & did not loose my balance. Guess what? I hit more sweet spots than before, not specially long but mostly on the fairway. I am loving it for now, & hope that it lasts. I think the main reasons are that I am more stable & rotate around my spine... Just want to share.

Jason Formalyn | 3 years ago, mid-July

Hi, just wanted to let you all know there is hope but I doubt there is a once and for all cure. My driving and chipping yips pushed my 4 hcp to almost a 7 (if it weren't for the limitation on the number of strokes you could count on any one hole---for handicap purposes--I'd currently be like a 14. I started meditating and doing relaxation exercises + I started focusing one one thing other than swing mechanics or the ball. In my case I started focussing on bracing my trailing foot--feeling pressure toward the target at address from about the foot bottom through my shins. Whenever I had the yip feelings (you all know what I'm talking about) I'd back away from the shot, shake my body like a dog shaking off a wet outing (not an impressive looking move for witnesses) and cram my grip hard under the thumb pad (I guess hands moving away from the fingertips into the palm area). This left me feeling like I could maintain the proper grip pressure without really squeezing my hands. Anyway, here's the point. I'm now almost scratch with almost only occasional signs of the yips (I previously had switched putting to the other side because of the yips and that worked)----until yesterday when the yips sprang up and bit me, 3 OB drives in a row, the usual off the planet direction. This was at the turn. 1 under after 8 and then 6 over after 10. But, here's the good thing, I got my body to relax and got my mind to focus on something EXTERNAL--meaning, some visual outside my body, like a tree in the distance, the flag, a cloud, anything to maintain focus on something else. I say something else but you all know that once you have the yip feelings it's nigh impossible to think of something other than those feelings. But don't succumb and say it's hopeless. Adding the aforementioned external thoughts seem to dilute the yip ones and in a short time I was back to my new "normal." I sit here typing and worrying that my next outing will be disastrous but then I picture myself striping the ball (at the same time of course---you all know this---I'm also thinking of yipping). It's a war inside my head. All I can say is that this is a combination of something physical (the Mayo Clinic study in the USA circa 2004? concluded that two muscles in the wrist which ordinarily never fire at the same time---because one is for contracting and one is for uncontracting--actually physically do fire at the same time in the yips. So there you have the physical but it is complicated as mental pressure exacerbates the problem. Perhaps mental pressure is the cause but the effect is indeed physical, the reaction to stress. Stress, mental, causes physical reactions. This is not new news. I'll keep everyone updated.

jason formalyn | 3 years ago, mid-July

Follow up on what I recently wrote, and this may be of more value to you than that post. So guess what? The driving and chipping yips merrily appeared on my next outing, so much so that when trying to extricate my ball from the trees with a 30 yard shot using a 5 iron because of the low hanging limbs I almost could not even take the club back. This has happened to me many times before. I managed some kind of spastic flail at the ball which sent it about 4 yards still in the trees. Add that to my driving yip misses which are not as bad as in their prime and I ended up with an 88 (equitable score 82). For a 1.2 hcp'r that's not too brilliant. Was absolutely afraid to venture out again so I thought I'd go out of town to a fine course and try my technique of not only holding the club loosely (I'd jam the grip into my thumb pad and do the same with the top hand fingers---jamming them into the grip so that the club felt like my hands ware not squeezing the club but squeezing each other. Please re-read that last sentence because it is part of what I think is one of the keys for overcoming the driving yips. The second part is concentrating your kinesthetic channel to feel this grip throughout the swing from address to finish. Have this feeling and concentration on this squeeze upon the grip be a primary swing thought and feel, a real focus point. It worked yesterday and I shot 1 over on a SS 71.9/135 course. Never give up!!!!

Fernando | 3 years ago, at the end of July

Jason, I am a 4 hdc turned 15 because of driving and, especially, long iron yips. I am from Chile and have had very ggod rounds lately only to see everything go astray yesterday, when the yips went wild. I am interested in trying your jamming grip technique, but I don't quite understand how I place the hands on the grip. Is there a chance a of a drawing or picture of them? Many thanks to all in this forum. I was feeling quite lonely down here.

John | 3 years ago, mid-August

Great comments,misery loves company. Driver yips,yipes! I am 62 and have gone from a 3 to 8 over this issue. My driver and the practice range are fine. When I go to the tee box there is a cranial breakdown. I have enjoyed reading and knowing there is a special group of goofey golfers in a similar plight. My remedy at this point is not to hit the driver off the tee. I have adopted my 3 wood as the go to club and I am hitting off the grass. I stay down with the ball and actually am taking a swing through the ball. No cranial misfires. My "drives" are not as long as the group that I play with; however, I am in the fairway with a respectable shot that does not take me out of the hole. I hope that I can build and recover a good drive from this point. In the meantime a 3 wood in the fairway is a functional option.

Brett | 3 years ago, mid-August

I am exactly the same as you john. i dont use a driver anymore.

John L | 3 years ago, at the start of September

Long suffering 10 years from driver yips - I am 65 , played my whole life, gone from 8 to 19 painful and embarrassing. 5 minutes on range I am back like before. on course hit left and right and grounders off the tee, recover with some good shots. but whole game is now a mess due to my nerves are shot, golf is no longer enjoyable this way can only use 3 wood or off the deck or very low tee, , seems easier like John says but even that is not working anymore need a brain transplant or maybe drugs. tried lessons only made it worse. is there any hope?



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