While I have many challenges in life, the yips ruining my putting is NOT one of them. However, I do know this condition is real and has sent many golfers to the sidelines or to the couch!
Bob Pritchard runs a business named Somax Sports out in Tiburon, CA. He has made a name for himself in the world of athletics by helping athletes across a range of sports, including golf, become better at their sports through a form of massage and manipulation that helps to free up "tight" muscles. This is not stretching per se, but a specific technique Mr. Pritchard employs that can result in dramatic improvements in range of motion. Learn more at the website for Somax Sports www.somaxsports.com
Yips: Mr. Pritchard has an interesting theory about why golfers develop yips. Rather than paraphrase, I will copy his emailed excerpt for you all to read.
Who out there suffers from the yips? How do you combat this affliction?
“I was interested to see why many of the great ball strikers like Snead, Hogan, and Trevino found their careers ended by the yips,” says Bob Prichard. “I wondered if there was some commonality in their swings that might give us a clue to the origins of this terrible disorder where the muscles of the forearms spasm during putting or swinging the club, forcing the golfer to mishit the ball. Many hours of careful frame-by-frame measurement of their swing mechanics over several months showed me that the only thing they had in common was that they fought centrifugal force with their driver.”
Adapting to Centrifugal Force
During the downswing, the driver is travelling around 100 mph and is pulling away from the golfer with 100 lbs of force, the same amount of force we experience on our arms when we try to lift a 100 lb sack of cement, only for a much briefer time. Most golfers wisely adapt by allowing this centrifugal force to straighten their arms and club into a straight line.
But as the arms and club straighten prior to impact, the distance from the shoulders to the club head increases about 7 inches compared to the distance at address. This forces the golfer to stand up during the downswing in order to make contact with the ball. Because they can’t see how many degrees they need to stand up, golfers have to hit thousands of golf balls to ‘groove’ their swing—and even then mishit the ball at the most critical moment.
Snead, Hogan and Trevino determined they could make better ball contact by not allowing their arms and club to straighten, effectively returning their hands and club to the exact same position at impact as they were at address.
Restraining The Driver Causes the Yips
While this adaptation was successful, and is unfortunately taught to many golfers today, it required tremendous forearm muscle contraction and grip pressure in order to resist 100 lbs of centrifugal force. These successful golfers used their technique not only while playing, but also while hitting thousands of golf balls at the range. By over-using their small forearm muscles to fight 100 lbs of centrifugal force, they tore many of the tens of thousands of tiny muscle fibers that make up each forearm muscle. As these fibers repaired, they became bigger and stronger.
Unfortunately microfibers, a mild type of scar tissue, also formed in the connective tissue between their muscles as part of the healing process. These microfibers not only did not go away after the muscles repaired, they actually increased over time, making the forearms stiffer with age.
In addition to physically binding adjacent connective tissue membranes together, microfibers also bind tension into place. When these famous golfers tried gripping their putter very lightly, their stiff, tense forearm muscles went into spasm, forcing them to ‘yip’ their putts.
“The gradual accumulation of tension and microfibers in the forearms” says Prichard, “is the main reason golfers get the yips. By releasing these microfibers, our golfers have greatly improved their putting. They report that they have a much softer grip on their putter, have a better feel of the putter face, and can more reliably strike the ball with the center of the putter face.”
The Third Way
“There is a third, more successful and safer way of dealing with centrifugal force during the downswing, one which we teach our golfers” says Prichard. “By having our golfers extend their hands until their arms and club are in a straight line at address, they can allow centrifugal force extend their arms and hands, safe in the knowledge that their hands and club will be in the exact same position at impact as they were at address--but without the need to over-exert grip pressure. The result is that many of our golfers improve their percentage of fairways hit from 50-60% to 90% and more. In addition, they reduce their chances of ever getting the yips.”
About Somax Performance Institute
Since 1970, the Somax Performance Institute has helped athletes of all ages improve their performance by improving their efficiency. Its 17 Olympic athletes have won 44 Gold Medals and have set 11 World Records. Their pro golfers have won the US Open as a rookie, improved their putting from #113 to #1, quadrupled their tour income and increased their longest drive from 295 to 400. Tennis players have added 20 mph and more to their ground strokes and serve. Their baseball players have increased their salary from $500,000 to $1.75 million after increasing their bases stolen, increased their long ball from 400 to 480, increased their velocity and strikes thrown, and reduced their 40-yard time from 4.9 to 4.27 seconds.
You can feel the strain on your forearms by holding your address club angle while someone pulls the clubhead away from you
Conventional address position with hands dropped at address
Yipper impact position= fighting 100 lbs. of force
'Going Ballistic', or letting centrifugal force extend arms and club in straight line--the safer way to adapt to centrifugal force
Putting hands on swing plane at address insures both accuracy and less forearm stress
Somax Performance Institute
4 Tara Hill Road
Tiburon, CA 94920, USA