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Have the chipping yips? Here’s a drill to help

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Note: If you don’t have the chipping yips, hit the back button right now on your browser. You don’t need to hear this stuff! But if you do have them, or are really struggling with your short game, read on. 

Oh man, the chipping yips. They are such a horrible thing to watch, yet you can’t look away. It’s like watching a wreck at an Indy Car race.

Recently, I was asked if the chipping yips are curable, and unfortunately I have to say it’s very doubtful. I have never seen an amateur cure them in my lifetime on the lesson tee. Tiger Woods is the only player I’ve seen who has seemingly conquered them, but I will withhold my verdict until he comes back to play in 2017.

Generally, the chipping yips start as a mechanical issue, leading to chunks and skulls, or just poor chip shots overall. Eventually, these poor shots erode confidence, and your brain starts tell your body you can’t handle the shot at hand. This inner doubt leads to some involuntary action as the club nears impact, making it very difficult to hit the golf ball properly. From there, unless you cross the wires mechanically, you are often left to struggle forever.

While I don’t think chipping yips can be cured, I do believe they can be suppressed, and that’s what the rest of this article is about. I can think of a few players off the top of my head who have battled this very issue:

  • Brock Mackenzie, a Web.com Tour player, now chips with one hand.
  • Chris Smith, a PGA Tour winner, chips cross-handed.
  • Doug Barron, a former PGA Tour player, also chips cross-handed.

Let me get you to understand how the yips are often created, and give you a drill that will help you combat them if and when when they show up. Hopefully, you can make a mechanical change before things get too bad.

How a chip shot should look

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.15.27 AM

On the backswing, there should be some type of loading of the club to create a slight bit of lag on the way down. This can be done with a quick setting of the wrists, which you see in Rory McIlroy’s move, or with the change of direction at the top, as Steve Stricker does. But either way, there needs to be a bit of load.

It’s this lag that must be maintained into and through impact in order to maintain solid and consistent contact around the greens.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.15.44 AM

Next comes the rotation or pivot of the body through the shot, which keeps “lag pressure” on the club shaft through the impact zone, and pulls the clubhead into the ball with solid impact alignments. This is mainly a function of the rear shoulder maintaining a constant velocity through impact. When it slows or does not rotate toward the target, the hands take over. And when the hands take on too much of a role, the golfer is left very vulnerable to the yips.

What a yip looks like

The main problem with chipping-yippers is their inability to keep the pivot moving through the shot. Of course, there are different types of yips that occur for various reasons, but this is by far the most common.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.00 AM

Here you can see this player has the club lagging, but notice the right shoulder. You can see it is staying too far “back,” and thus the shoulders are not opening up as quickly as they should at this point in the downswing.

An bad shot is about to occur. Yikes.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.13 AM

You can this see this shot was hit fat, and the right shoulder has moved forward very little from the last frame above. When the pivot slows, the player tends to fall backward, moving the low point rearward. And from there, you are in trouble.

So how do you stop sticking your pick in the ground?

The One-Hander

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.29 AM

Set up with your rear hand on the grip as shown. Note that the handle and forearm form a letter “V” of a certain angle, and I don’t want to see that angle change.

The only way to achieve this is to use the pivot of your body to transport your arms, hands and club into impact, instead of flipping or blocking with your hands.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.16.42 AM

At impact (above), notice how far forward the rear shoulder has rotated! You can also see that the rear wrist is bent and the “V” is still intact, as it was during address.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 11.17.11 AMEven in the frame above, the right shoulder is still moving forward and the lag is still intact. This is the way to pitch the ball like a pro!

Still have doubts that the pivot of the body or right shoulder controls lag pressure? Check out this photo comparison below. There’s significantly more rotation in the right frame.

ChippingYips

So take your time and understand that if you slap at the ball it’s not a problem with your hands; it’s a reaction to your pivot slowing down. Try the one-handed pitching drill and I promise you will improve.

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: [email protected]

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Keith W.

    Oct 29, 2016 at 7:01 am

    The CHIP YIPS ARE REAL! At one time I had a +2.3 handicap and my short game was so good that I was described as “being able to get up-and-down out of a ball washer”…not a bad compliment, and true. Things changed, and for 10 years my short game became a total liability. But I found a fix that worked for me that eliminated the need to think about technique and built trust in my chipping again.

    Rather than thinking about the swing or manipulating my wrists, hands, club face or anything else I remembered something I had told and taught to junior golfers…”the club is smarter than you are”. Translation: the club has plenty of loft, and has bounce to accommodate the lie conditions…all it needs is a pilot.

    The FIX…instead of letting the hands, arms, and shoulders dictate the results, let the club dictate the shot. This is accomplished by addressing the ball in a slightly more upright position, taking the club back to what is appropriate for the length of the shot and once the backswing is in place simply drop the club from the top of the swing and allow the weight of the head to do its magic on the downswing. I could really feel the head and it works because the club has no fear, no doubt, and no brain. If you try this you will find that the club will do its job as manufactured.

    After applying this logic (and a couple of extra pieces of lead tape to and L wedge) in practice for about an hour on a chipping green, I found that I was no longer guiding the club to avoid errant shots, but instead releasing the head again and thereby curing the mechanical failures. After practicing this for a couple of days I took it to the course and had ZERO fat or skulled shots, and in fact reclaimed 90% of my proficiency with my lob wedge.

    Fast forward 3 years…since putting this into practice I have cured the chip yips and my confidence in my short game has returned. I don’t even think about it anymore…except for today, writing this advice.

  2. Steve S

    Oct 28, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Yips are a mental problem that CAN be cured. Confidence cures the yips. Confidence is gained by a lot of successful practice. Successful practice comes from good fundamentals. This applies to all sports and physical activity. A strong willed person can overcome almost any physical problem(pertaining to sports). A weak willed person needs to work on their personality.

    • tom stickney

      Oct 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Steve– ever taught someone with the yips before? It’s easy to help them overcome them in practice but when the light comes on during the tournament all bets are off.

      • Scooter McGavin

        Oct 28, 2016 at 4:54 pm

        Sorry, Tom, but Steve is mostly right. “Yips” is just a name people made up to make an excuse for their poor performance at something. When the “tournament light goes on” the golfer needs to have put in the appropriate preparation (slow fundamental practice) so they can rely on that. Calling it “the yips” only perpetuates the problem because it makes it sound like a disease that is out of the golfer’s control (“Oh noes, I got de yips!”). Honestly, I think golfers would be much better off if everyone stopped calling it the yips and just said “Hey, I’m having some problems chipping (putting, driving, etc.). I need to go to the chipping green and sort them out with basic, patient fundamental practice”. As a teacher, if someone tells you they have the yips, the best thing you can do for them is tell them there’s no such thing, and that they’ve just developed a flaw they need to work out.

  3. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Interesting that you didn’t go on to mention the skulled shots. But, as is obvious, they are the mental (faulty) correction to hitting fat shots. So they go together.

  4. Charlie

    Oct 27, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Tiger comment in 3…2…1…

    • The dude

      Oct 28, 2016 at 6:08 am

      He is set to retire after 17’….I promise

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TXG: Should you carry TWO DRIVERS? // Distance, Accuracy, Draw & Fade Setups

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Some of the best players in the world have been testing a two-driver setup for their bags. Does it make sense to play two drivers if they are set up for two different shot shapes? We test one driver setup for maximum distance and draw flight and another setup for accuracy and fade flight. See whether this could be an advantage for your game—and help you get off the tee better at your course!

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Fixing the shanks: How to stop shanking the golf ball (GolfWRX Explains)

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May you never be concerned about fixing the shanks! But if you’re begging the golf gods for guidance how to stop shanking the golf ball? Ready to offer up your first-born child for the wisdom how to stop shanking irons? Frantically asking Google how to never shank a golf ball again?

Fear not. We’ll get to drills to stop shanking irons shortly that are guaranteed to ingrain the proper feel and anti-shank action, but first, a brief discussion of what exactly a shank is (other than will-to-live crushing).

More often than not, a shank occurs when a player’s weight gets too far onto the toes, causing a lean forward. Instead of the center of the clubface striking the ball—as you intended at address—the hosel makes contact with your Titleist, and—cover your ears and guard your soul—a shank occurs.

How to stop shanking the golf ball

If you’ve ever experienced the dreaded hosel rocket departing your club at a 90-degree angle, you know how quickly confidence can evaporate and terror can set in.

Fortunately, the shanks are curable and largely preventable ailment. While there are drills to fix your fault you once the malady has taken hold, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

How to stop shanking the golf ball

If you’re trying to understand how to stop shanking the golf ball, you need to understand where the ball makes contact with the club during a shank.

Fixing the shanks

To avoid shanking the golf ball, it’s important to lock in on some keys…

  • Have a proper setup and posture…Athletic posture, arms hang down, neither too bent over nor too upright, weight on the balls of the feet.
  • Keep your grip light and arms tension free…If 10 is a death grip of golf club and 1 is the club falling out of your hand, aim for a grip in the 4-6 range. Make sure your forearms aren’t clenched.
  • Maintain proper balance throughout the swing…50/50 weight to start (front foot/back foot). 60/40 at the top of the backswing. 90/10 at impact.
  • Avoid an excessively out-to-in or in-to-out swing path…Take the club straight back to start, rather than excessively inside (closer to the body) or outside (further away from the body).

The best drill to stop shanking the golf ball

Set up properly (as discussed above), flex your toes upward as you begin your swing and keep your chest high (maintain your spine angle) throughout the swing.

Other than those focal points, keep your brain free of any additional chatter, which only exacerbates shankitis.

(For more advice, be sure to check out what our friends at Me and My Golf have to say below)

Now you know how to stop shanking the golf ball and have the tools to never shank the golf ball again.

Praise the golf gods!

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Cameron Smith’s 3-month Covid-19 training block

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Whilst Covid-19 has presented countless grave health and economic challenges to the world’s population, it has also provided opportunity for many people to focus their attention on projects that they normally wouldn’t have time for.

Turns out PGA Tour players are no different, and in the case of Cameron Smith, we used the enforced break from competitive golf to undertake a very rare, uninterrupted 3 month block of strength training.

Cam plays 25-30 events a year spread across 4 continents and this presents a number of challenges to overcome from a training and programming perspective:

– Varying facilities

– Travel fatigue and jet lag

– Concerns around muscle soreness affecting ability to perform on course

– Physical and mental cost of competing

When combined, these challenges can often render even the most carefully planned training programs redundant. So whilst many golf fans were coming to terms with a prolonged absence of PGA Tour events, I was getting stuck into designing programs that would hopefully elicit the following outcomes for Cam:

– More muscle mass

– More strength

– More power

In a normal season, I’m hesitant to prescribe programs that focus on muscle gain, because the nature of the training volume tends to tighten Cam up (reduce his range of motion), reduce his club-head speed and elicit a lot of muscle soreness…..not an ideal combination for short term performance! But I knew in this case, we could get stuck into some higher volume work because we would have plenty of time to recover from any lost mobility, reduced speed and increased soreness before tournaments started again.

 

Mid March – Program 1 – General Hypertrophy Focus

We decided with the global virus outlook looking dire and the PGA Tour promising to deliver a 30 day notice before resumption of play, we should focus on hypertrophy (increasing muscle size) until the 30 day notice period was delivered. At that point we would switch to a more familiar power based program in preparation for tournaments starting up again.

Program Breakdown:

– 4 weeks

– 3 sessions per week

– 1 x lower focus (legs, glutes, core)

– 1 x push focus (chest, shoulders, triceps, core)

– 1 x pull focus (back, biceps, core)

– Gradually increasing volume over 4 weeks (more reps and sets to failure)

Training Variables:

Sets: 3 to 4

Reps: 8 to 12

Tempo: 2-0-2 (2 seconds up, no pause, 2 seconds down)

Weight: around 70% of maximum

Rest: 60 seconds, but this can vary when pairing exercises together in supersets or mini circuits

 

Example Workout – Lower Body Focus (legs, glutes, core):

 

Example Exercises:

 

Mid April – Program 2 – Lower Body Hypertrophy Focus

As Cam was about to finish up his first hypertrophy program, there was a fairly clear indication that there would be no play until mid June at the earliest. Knowing that we had 2 more months of training, we decided to continue with another hypertrophy block. This time increasing the focus on the lower body by breaking down the leg work into 2 seperate sessions and ramping up the training volume.

Program Breakdown:

– 4 weeks

– 4 sessions per week

– 2 x lower body focus (1 x quad focused workout and 1 x hamstring / glute focused workout)

– 1 x push focus (chest, shoulders, triceps, core)

– 1 x pull focus (back, biceps, core)

– Gradually increasing volume over 4 weeks (more reps and sets)

Training Variables:

Sets: 3 to 4

Reps: 8 to 12

Tempo: 2-0-2 (2 seconds up, no pause, 2 seconds down)

Weight: around 70% of maximum

Rest: 60 seconds, but this can vary when pairing exercises together in supersets or mini circuits

 

Example Workout – Pull Focus (back, biceps, core):

 

Example Exercises:

Mid May – Program 3 – Power Focus

Once we received confirmation that play would be resuming 11th June at Colonial, we made the call to switch to a power focused program. Moving back to 3 days per week, lowering the volume and increasing the intensity (more weight and more speed in the main lifts).

The idea is to get the body used to moving fast again, reduce muscle soreness to allow better quality golf practice, and supplement the with more mobility work to re-gain any lost range of motion.

We also added some extra grip work because Cam discovered that with the muscle and strength gain, plus lifting increased weight, his grip was failing on key lifts…..not such a bad problem to have!

Program Breakdown:

– 4 weeks

– 3 sessions per week

– 1 x lower body focus (legs, glutes, core, grip)

– 1 x upper body focus (chest, back, biceps, triceps, core, grip)

– 1 x combined focus (legs, glutes, shoulders, core, grip)

– Volume remains constant (same sets and reps), aiming to increase intensity (either weight or speed) over the 4 weeks.

Training Variables:

Sets: 4 to 5

Reps: 3-5 for main exercises, 8-12 for accessory exercises.

Tempo: X-0-1 for main exercises (as fast as possible in up or effort phase, no pause, 1 second down). 2-0-2 for accessory exercises.

Weight: around 85% of maximum for main exercises, around 70% for accessory exercises.

Rest: 90 seconds, but this can vary when pairing exercises together in supersets or mini circuits

 

Example Workout – Combined (legs, glutes, core, shoulders, grip):

 

Example Exercises:

 

If you are interested in receiving some professional guidance for your training, then check out the services on offer from Nick at Golf Fit Pro

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