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"Curing" the Yips

We all know it when we see it. Sometimes, we can even see it before it happens. The twitch. The missed putt. The despair. The putter throw.

Alright, the putter throw is optional. But we all know what just happened.

A yip.

And we’re going to take a closer look through my lens for how we solved that issue for a mid range handicapper who needed some help.

This Particular Case

First, I’ll share a couple of the things that I’m looking for that might be the root cause of the issue. In some instances, the cause of a person’s twitch might be rooted from multiple areas. When taking a look at a problem like this, the answer isn’t often one dimensional. In Terry’s case, we’re going to take a look at his setup, movement pattern, and the equipment.

That’s a lot going on for one session, but we broke it down into a few steps that you might have seen in his Putting Story on my Instagram.

What I Saw

Let’s start by taking a look at the DTL video:

It’s pretty safe to say where the problem is coming from in this case. His hands clearly rotate the putter more than we want, but this doesn’t answer why.

So time for me to get to the why. Here’s the quick list of the things that I noticed that might be the cause for what happened:

  • Setup

  • Arm Structure

  • Movement Strategy

What I Measured

Some coaches might steer away from collecting data when the stroke and pattern are as unstable as the strokes that we’ve seen thus far. Rather than shy away from that though, part of my coaching process is just that - a process.

First, I need to know more about the tool that we’re using for the job. And immediately upon picking it up, something was wrong.

It was heavy. Really freaking heavy. I saw the aftermarket grip during my initial look, but the excessive counterweight was heavier than I was expecting. The total weight of the putter was nearly 20% heavier than a standard weight putter. While this might not be the entire cause of the problem, maybe it had something to do with the poor pattern that he developed. There are some cases where the problem isn’t the Indian, it’s the arrow.

The 10 putt measurement comes immediately following the initial video. Take a look at the chaos.

The circled areas are the Rotation Rate at Impact (how fast the putter face is opening and closing relative to the target line measured in degrees per second) and Smoothness (Rotational Acceleration).

Instead of hiding that information from the player though, I knew enough about Terry to recognize that he likes to understand and quantify other parts of his game. While it doesn’t have to be at the level a coach would understand it, that was enough for me to spend time with him looking at the above data.

We talked about how the setup and radially deviated wrists (very low hands) could create the inconsistent face rotation. Then, we established the smoothness graph was going to be our barometer for improvement.

Lastly, we used the SAM PuttLab 3D software just to verify how much the grip was moving during the stroke. Check it out. We’re going to need that later…

What We Tackled

Like any good session, it started with establishing the new concept. First order was understanding why the setup was not going to be functional. The excessively low hand position didn’t allow him to manage how the putter moved during the stroke.

That led to us exploring different setup positions and grips to help reduce how much the hands rotated during the stroke. That exploration included The Pencil Drill (IG: @flatstickacademy) to make sure that the visual with the drastically different setup looked straighter.

Lastly, we agreed to try left hand low to help reorganize how he was moving the putter. He noted that the putter was much more comfortable in the left hand…

Remember the 3D video that we took a look at earlier and how the grip travel was unstable? I took the information that he gave me about the left hand feeling better on the putter and used that to frame the next step.

Making a Change

Rather than the focus on hitting the putt, we isolated the strategy to the left hand, something he liked the feel of, and moving the grip with very little rotation. After that, we lengthened the stroke to allow for a slower stroke/cadence. Take a look at how the smoothness graph changed:

In addition to changes that we see in the smoothness, we also saw some positive changes to the face and grip movement, both 2D and 3D.

Not bad for someone who struggled to touch the cup from 4 feet on some days. But for these changes to take hold, we needed to make sure he as able to take the topics covered and hit on some key words that triggered these changes. Here’s what we decided to use:

  1. Setup

  2. Stability

  3. Cadence

As always, there’s more to come. We can’t solve all of the problems in one session, especially when dealing with a full blown case of the yips. But, they can be avoided, limited, and a mid range handicap can return their stroke to something a bit more functional.

But not without proof of improvement of course.

Thank you for reading and learning a few things about managing the dreaded yips.

Thank you to all of those have provided information for me over the years including David Orr (@flatstickacademy) and Garrett Chaussard (@gchaussard)

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