Six Mental Game Steps for Beating the Chipping Yips

Are the yips caused by a mental or physical problem? The debate is still ongoing and the answer depends on if you are a mental game coach or a swing instructor. Occasionally, I will have students that seek me out because they have what they think are the chipping yips. Similar to the putting yips, but with a different club obviously, the chipping yips occur when a play perceives as if he is stabbing or jerking at the ball upon impact. Some players describe it as an uncontrollable stab at the ball, beyond conscious intervention such as an automatic response that they have no control over. However one describes the yips, it still a menace for some unlucky golfers and can be very embarrassing at the least.

Last weekend at the New Orleans PGA Tour event, you saw a Tour Pro using a cross handed grip with his chipping clubs because he had the yips. So even the best players in the world can get the chipping yips and it is not a phenomenon exclusive only to senior players. Some instructors, such as Hank Haney say that the chipping yips are caused more by poor technique than a poor mindset. By changing your grip, such as how you grip the putter (to take out the wrist in putting), golfers can cure the putting yips Haney confesses.

I have a different take on the yips and in this case, the chipping yips. I think the yips start with fear—fear of hitting a bad shot, fear of being embarrassed, or any other fear you can imagine. The fear causes more golfers to try too hard to make a good stroke or at the very least over control the stroke. My philosophy is that trying too hard and over control lead to a feeling of jerking the hands or club at impact. I have had success with students on trying to be less conscious of the stroke and more feel oriented. Sure, good technique is very important in all phases of the game, but no matter how good your form is, fear and over control will get in the way of the most technically sound stroke.

Here are six tips getting beyond the chipping yips:

Let me first say that you can improve and get beyond the chipping yips. You must believe you can change and improve otherwise you will stay stuck in your current mindset by thinking you have a golfing “disease.”

Stop the self-labels! The first step is to stop labeling yourself as having a disease with the chipping club. When you label yourself as a person with the “yips” you are saying that you will always struggle with this dilemma and just have to cope with it. Once you adopt the label and believe it, you make it very hard to shake loose of the negative stigma associated with the yips. You leave no room for confidence to grow in your chipping as you are stuck to accept the self-label you have adopted.

Identify the fear or source of over control. Step 2 is to identify the specific fear associated with hitting a bad chip. However, the yips is often not about the fear of hitting a bad shot, it’s about fear of the consequences of hitting a bad shot, making a high number on a hole, or shooting a crummy round altogether. You have to go even further down the line of consequences to figure out what the eventual fear means to you. So you don’t chip well and ad a couple strokes to your score? What does that mean to your ego? Is it embarrassing? Are you worried about what others may think if you have a poor round? Are you protecting your single-digit handicap? You have to look at the consequences to determine where the ultimate fear lies and then you can address it head on.

Change your practice routine. Step 3 is to stop working on technique for now (temporarily) until you can free swing the chipper in practice and then on the course. Working too much on technique or positions in practice can cause you to further over control your stroke on the course because you will think too much about how to make a good stroke rather than seeing a good shot in your mind and reacting to that image or feeling. Instead, you should work on freedom of movement and touch or feel in your practice. Good touch and controlling distance in chipping is essential to good scoring. To do this, you need a good sense of touch around the greens. This requires that you working on controlling your trajectory of the shot and judging the distance correctly. Practice reacting to a spot on the green you picked out and “tossing” the ball there with your club.

Let go of precision and get into feel on the course. In my experience, the yips start by trying to be too precise or thinking too much about the mechanics of the stroke. Great players focus more on the feel or imagination of the chip rather than the how-too. Let me explain. Great putting or chipping is about programming your mind and body for execution with images in your mind. A visual player prefers to see the trajectory, landing area, and roll out in her mind just prior to hitting the chip. A feel-oriented player will want to feel the tempo necessary to hit a given shot. In both cases, you need to react to the image you see or feel in your mind and let the stroke flow from this. Step 4 is to give up control and work on being freer with the actual stroke. You have to give up control of precision to gain control of your touch.

Hit the shot you are more confident hitting. Step 5 is to employ a shot-making strategy by hitting greenside shots that you are most comfortable hitting when on the course. For example, you have nothing to be ashamed about if you use your putter to hit a shot that is 6 feet off the fridge. The name of the game is SCORE. Sometimes golfers trap themselves into playing the “right shot” or conventional shot, which may not be the right play to make a “scoring shot.” Pick the club and hit the shot you are most comfortable hitting in that situation and don’t feel like you have to play the perfect lob shot over the bunker to get it close.Free yourself up by having a strategy that will help you simplify the shot and use your strengths.

One bad chip does not mean you are yipping today. Step 6 is to not make assumptions about the first bad chip you make of the round. Do not engage with the…”Here I go again, hitting poor shots with the chipper. Am I going to struggle all day with this?” This mindset is self-defeating and reinforces the self-label of yipper—that you cannot get away from it—and you are stuck with it no matter what you do. You have to do your best to let go of the bad shot and write it off ASAP. You can only give yourself a chance of recovery (from the yipping blues) if you convince yourself that the next chip you are going to hit stiff. A good putter would never tell herself that she is going to miss four footers all day after missing the first four footer of the day!

The Golfers Mental EdgeTake the next steps to improve your golf game today:

1. Download our free Golf Mental Game Report titled, “Six Costly Errors Golfers Make During Their Preshot Routine

2. Learn strategies pro golfers use on the course and order The Golfer’s Mental Edge Workbook and CD Program to improve your mental game!

3. Read more about how to overcome the putting and chipping yips.

4. Get expect mental coaching to cure golf putting or baseball throwing yips.

29 thoughts on “Six Mental Game Steps for Beating the Chipping Yips”

  1. Thanks for the advice, I am a 3 handicap golfer and this chipping problem has really destroyed my golf for the last two year. With your advice I am going to get over this problem! Chipping has been a very strong part of my game in the past and I am going to make it strong again.

    Kind regards


  2. Tour advice is good…in theory for me.In PRACTICE i’ve successfully had good contact and a fluid Motion with over 90% of my chipping strokes.In actual play after some smooth practice swings,my mind KNOWS that the next swing is for real so i TOTALLY miss, either hitting behind or over the ball .The weird thing is that I have good success on green side bunkers,probably because it is more of a full swing. So I try to duplicate the same swing on green side grass…to no avail,the result being a whiff or a chunk.
    The only way I have little success is by chipping with one hand only.The movement is then fluid but,of course more diffiicult to control.
    I’ve had lessons with several teaching pros and great amateurs chippers, with little result.
    Do you have a solution ?


  3. Do you know of anyone in the Phoenix area that is qualified to work one on one with the chipping yips. I have read numerous articles, books, etc on the subject with little success. Perhaps there is someone that is qualified in the Phoenix area to help,

    Thanks for any information you can provide.

  4. Bob: I do not know anyone that helps golfers with the yips in Phoenix Are. Although I’m in Orlando, FL, I do help golfers with yips via Skype and other video conferencing technology.

  5. I have carried a single digit handicap most of my life, but chip yips have begun to put this at risk. I discovered a simple drill that helps me, and may be of use to others. Simply practice a few chips with your eyes closed.

    Yeah, you heard me. Set the shot up normally – line, stance, etc. Then close your eyes and keep them closed until you complete the stroke. You will be amazed at how well you do. You will be forced to rely on feel, balance and tempo. Since you can’t “see” when you are going to make contact, will make the proper smooth, brush stroke required.

  6. Hi

    I played off 1 at age of 14 and have had the yips from then until now aged 65 and now off 10.

    I can empathise with the idea of letting go of control because for me the worst time for my pitching is after I go and have another lesson from my pro. This is usually because I feel that I have to do something or give the game up.

    Those playing with me tell me that I have a text book backswing and then just lunge at the ball dipping my head as I bring the club into the ball and usually hitting it heavy because I have lost height. Main problem I find though is that I cannot even feel myself lunging at the ball.

    Anything that you can do for me in Scotland?


  7. Alan: We work with athletes from all over the world via Skype and goto meeting. Let me know if you want the details.

  8. How do you work via Skype and what are the details.

    As posted in June, I have the chipping yips and no amount of work, lessons, etc has seemed to help even though I feel I know the mechanics, etc.

    Thanks for any information you can provide


  9. You can participate in a mental coaching program via phone, Skype, or FaceTime from anywhere in the world. And, of course, you can do an in-person program in Orlando, FL with the Gold Program.

    Please call 888-742-7225 or email me so we can discuss the best option for you. Also, you can listen to mental coaching success stories from our athletes on this page:

  10. I totally agree with these posts. 33 years old, played since I was 5. Over past few years developed awful chipping yips. From 7 to 12 handicap as a direct result. In practice I chip ok, but when it matters (ball and score) I generally thin the ball badly. Then I’m usually faced with another chip.
    I agree it’s deep routed psychology based on fear of bad score and embarrassment. I want so desperately to hit a good shot my brain shuts down and flicks at it. Can hit lots of good shots on practice green, then no idea on course when it matters. Nearly given game up as a result. Soul destroying as I struggle to compete. Thinking of trying to chip left handed, heard of some that have had success with that.

  11. Short Version:
    The Yips are analogous to a bad baton pass in a relay race; snooker, golf, darts, life etc. Same problem in your head.
    Started snooker at 17 (50 now). Hundred break within 14 months. Yips within a year. Could NOT hit the ball sometimes. Not the same game. Done!
    Played pool for living in 90’s US poolhalls: Bigger pockets allow for a little flinch in your action.
    Yips cost me 1000’s!
    No more! 2 reasons. I don’t gamble and l now thoroughly understand the What How and Why, of the Yips. So does my son, nearly.
    The Yips are the flip side to flow, what l was actually looking for when recognising “NO YIPS….AT ALL!” with the ‘recognizable’ loss of intensity when approaching flow. And beautiful ‘flashbacks’ to previous “Wow!” moments of play and moments of feeling ‘as one’ (cringe, but true) with the game.

  12. I have had chipping yips for years now and it is the single biggest reason for my handicap going up to 15 from 7. I have spent 1000’s of dollars on lessons and hours on the practice range but to no avail. I had the yips on putting too but overcame it with the claw grip. Should I try something drastic like going left handed or even one handed. I can hit the ball pretty well with my right hand alone but not very consistently. But the feel is great and I can get height again. My son is getting his Masters in Sports Psychology and recommended that I reach out to you as he has read a lot of your material. Can you really help me over Skype or would it be better to come down there to ORlando? I live near Clemson, SC. I look forward to your response. I will beat this but need help. It is not a mechanical issue it is what takes over in my mind on a swing

  13. Amazing reading this article and these other stories, I thought I was the only one with these issues.BKm5

  14. I have very similar chipping yip issues to the comments expressed. Have practiced extensively but can’t overcome it when playing for real. It’s not technique it’s psychological!! Looking for solutions because I’m ready to quit!

  15. Definitely share Howard’s view in that it is sobering to know we are not alone. Alas, I too am a yipper and becoming a good one at that. Worrying to see so many of us willing to try anything to keep on playing, but without any real success. Also thought about switching to left handed, but not sure I want to really go down that road. Have been playing for 28 years (currently playing of a 6), but I fear that won’t be for long if I’m not able to find a cure. Putting yips appeared in 2008, but similar to Wayne Anderson, switched to the claw grip and was able to save face.
    Have tried to chip and run with a hybrid, 3-wood even and sometimes it works. It’s those more delicate ones where you shortside yourself that seem to get me.

  16. Great to read, I developed the chipping yip a few years ago. I have played off 16 for the last 5 years and just can’t get lower without getting this under control. My driving and iron play has got better and better, but just can’t get better without getting this under control. I would rather find a bunker than be short or in a position requiring a chip. I can play well below my handicap when my iron play is on and I find a lot of GIR, then miss a green by a fraction and it’s all over. It has even now started to creep into my long putting. I actually thought I was developing some brain/ fine motor disease. It is a bizarre feeling to stand and make 4 or 5 smooth practice swings and then step up to the ball and just go JERK. I actually find it comical sometimes.
    I have started going one handed with my long puts and chips in practice.
    But I want work on the fear side of it as stated above. That’s where it comes from, then you expect it, and it gets worse.

  17. Great to find something out there about chipping yips instead of putting yips. I’ve suffered from the chipping yips for quite a while. I’m convinced it’s mental more than anything. I’ve been reading a lot about brain neuroplasticity and feel the answer lies in there somewhere. Effectively the yip becomes a learned habit based on fear and the neural pathways and created and formed. Neuroplasticity states that there are ways to “retrain” your brain and trim the old pathways and create new ones.

    Dr Cohn – have you worked with people based on these theories?

  18. I too have now struggled with chipping yips for 3-4 years despite numerous lessons. Agree that the hundreds or thousands of practice shots have likely ingrained my problem further. The only improvement comes w one handed attempts. Utility woods work well, but only when pathway free of obstructions. I’ve deteriorated from a 7 to a 12 or so.

  19. My son is not a golfer but a young 15 year old baseball player who recently develop what they call the yips. He is a catcher and at this young age he is painfully suffering from this weird thing. I just dont know what to do for him and as a result I’ve lost about 10 pounds thinking about my son’s issue and not being able to help him.It breaks my heart to see such a beautiful kid that loves the game of baseball and is so good at it suffer the way he is suffering.

  20. The yips are common in baseball and golf, but even in other sports like tennis and serving. It’s really hard to understand this problem with athletes because the harder they try the worse the yips become–it’s an over control and fear issues. The best thing he can do is simplify his throwing, try NOT to be perfect, and throw to a bigger target.

  21. I used to have the putting yips, but overcame them by changing to a left hand low grip, and most importantly closing my eyes for the real stroke and only focussing on the stroke length/tempo (trust me, after a couple of sessions on the practice green, you’ll be amazed how well this works, and nobody will even notice you’re doing it!). However, I don’t find I can chip with my eyes closed!

    I still woking on it and yip sometimes when the pressure is on, or I have a tricky lie, or a bunker to go over, but they are getting rarer. We CAN beat this, but I think both psychologist and swing instructor are correct. Yes it IS mental, but beating it takes a combination of physical practice and a change of mentality:

    1. Practice a lot, so you KNOW you can do it and understand where you usually go wrong and give yourself a chance to get extremely familiar with a ‘good’ chip; 2: Physically relax your muscles, grip and jaw prior to the shot (I even let my tongue poke out a bit 🙂 ); 3: Remind yourself not to do whatever your issue is (no body turn, flicky wrists etc, in my case its “get your left shoulder turning early”), have a positive image of the trajectory, then let go a “normal” golf swing – I found that notion particularly odd because I have been polluted by so much contradicting advice about chipping – ball back, ball forward, open stance, etc. NO, just make a regular swing, albeit shorter, and let the weight of the club head do the work (you’ll have to if you’re still barely holding it!). 4. Give yourself a break – if your next shot is a putt, no matter how long it is, then consider that a victory!

    Guys, it’s going to take time, but I believe over a couple of months you’ll see a dozen yippy chips become 10, become 8, become 6 and so on. You may still hit the odd duffer, but if it’s NOT because you yipped, then who even cares!?!?

  22. I’m a former college golfer who joined the Army and the chipping yips crept in about 5 years ago. Even when I first joined and never practiced, I was always an excellent chipper – only thinking of making all my chips and never any negative thoughts. I just figured these “yips” were the result of bad nerves from so many deployments as it has progressively gotten worse. Like most of y’all, it started with putting but the claw fixed that. However the chipping yips are killing me. On days when I strike the ball well and can get by with pitching with a utility wood, I may shoot 66. But when I have to rely heavily on my short game it gets really ugly – really quick. Blades over the green, chunks, double hits. That uncontrollable flick of the right wrist at the bottom of the stroke that is so embarrassing I won’t even practice chipping if anyone’s on the chipping green. However, yesterday things started changing a little because of a physical change I made. Once I took my last look at my landing spot, I move only my eyes back to the ball creating a very blurry image as my left eye can’t see that far back. As I practiced this yesterday I started getting a lot of feel back into my hands. Although I still hit a few squirrely shots, most of them at least FELT GOOD. I’ve been craving this feeling for years. I agree that this is all psychological, however the harder I have tried to think my way through this the worse it has gotten. Hopefully this physical change helps and hopefully it may assist you guys too. I will keep you posted on my progress.

  23. Tim: The physical changes will only be a temporary fix. You have to address the real fear that is holding you back and learn how to free up the stoke. Check out my website on the putting and chipping yips here for more information on this topic.

  24. I have pretty much isolated my particular problem but as yet have not found a solution. Of all of my bad chips, 90% of them occur when I flick my eyes and head up away from the ball just before impact. It creeps up into my iron play too. The difference is clubhead speed. It’s partially masked with the full swing. It really shows up with chipping though. Like others here, it causes me immense frustration and pushes me closer and closer to quitting. I’ve been to 3 swing instructors and they are of zero help.

    Golf is not the only thing that is affected by my little issue. Recording music is where it was graphically illustrated for me on my computer screen. My musical notes are all 25 to 100 milliseconds ahead of the beat. When I tense up, even a little, my mind accelerates the physical sequence of the task. My mind wants the task to be over with, before it really is. I have always had this. I know because my grade school teachers all tried to fix my handwriting. It was terrible then and still is. Try writing legibly when your brain is pushing the pencil way faster than you can physically manipulate it.

    Reach for an object and occasionally you fumble it and have to grasp at it again. It happens to everybody. It happens to me constantly. Remember back when you were in little league, you dropped the ball and in your haste, made repeated attempts to pick it up and throw to the right base. Same thing, your mind had the ball in your hand and was already throwing it before you really had it in your hand.

    I am relating this here because many of us who golf, especially in our 60’s, are seeing this because chipping really reveals it. If this sounds familiar to some of you, then quit wasting your time and money on swing coaches. I’m not even really sure that there is a psychological answer for me. I’ve tried all of the relaxation and focus tips and even hypnotherapy. Nada. Maybe there is a drug that can help get my brain in sequence with my body.

    What do you think Mr. Cohn?

  25. It’s for sure a mental game issue when you flick my eyes and head up away from the ball just before impact. No teacher would tell you to do this. The fear of messing up is the culprit.

  26. Thank you for your your advice. Chipping yips are a nightmare to me, not so much on the rough as on cut grass. No problem when practicing, but I’m desperate if the shot is for real in the course. It may sound stupid but, when putting is not possible, this is what I do: after a couple of short swings I go on the ball and I CLOSE MY EYES! This is 70% efficient, much better than the 20% I get when I just say to myself ‘this time is going to be OK”. I think that by closing my eyes I’m avoiding anticipating the shot, I’m thinking just on repeating the last swing and concentrating on the finishing position… As a said, it sounds very silly, but is better than quit! Anyway,
    I think I will try your strategy to recover a shot that was my favorite ten years ago. Thanks!

  27. I have same problem. All in mindset. I have jumped from a 1 to 5 handicap. All related to chipping. Sad to say that the best cure for me is alcohol. When drinking I play more relaxed and don’t worry about result as much. I have even thought about being hypnotized with this yips problem.

Leave a Comment