It doesn’t matter whether you call it choking or having the Yips, this eventuality is beyond frustrating for any golfer. Sometimes it just happens, but then the more frequently it happens the more you come to expect it to happen and then a self-fulfilling prophesy becomes an embedded part of your golf game.
For some golfers, choking is confined to one single part of the game. Perhaps you have the yips when putting, or maybe when faced with an important sandy save, or alternatively it becomes your cross to bear when attempting to hit a tee shot or a tricky recovery shot from the rough. For some golfers it is specific to the shot, whereas for others it is related to the club or the particular circumstances in which you are found.
Every golfer has “choked” on some shot at some time. The degree of choking and its frequency differs from one individual to another. At first you will recognize its appearance as a result of your lack of trust or lack of commitment to the shot in hand. But if it takes root and appears more often then you can see an automated pattern begin to appear that seems to happen unconsciously, of it’s own accord.
In this sense it can be likened to a slight fear that has managed to puff itself up into a full-blown phobia. It might be seen to be totally irrational. But irrational or not, it is very real, and totally and utterly debilitating and frustrating for the golfer who is held within its octopus like tentacles.
No amount of lessons or practice will unwrap those tentacles from your wrists and allow you to swing freely and regain control of your club. It is not a physical or a mechanical issue. It is an emotional and unconscious issue that has become entwined into a part of your game. It’s manifestations are physical and mechanical but it’s cause is anything but.
It has somehow become associated with or incorporated into your pre-shot routine. Thus you need to shake your pre-shot routine up and change it. You need to change whatever it is that serves to (unconsciously) trigger this instinctive and automated response. If you change your pre-shot routine then you stand a very good chance of throwing off those choking tentacles. Try it for yourself and see what happens.
The other thing that you might like to consider is the robustness of your post-shot routine. If you had a bullet proof post-shot routine then any negative emotional responses to bad shots would have been left behind and there would be nothing left over with which to trigger the choke or the yips.
I have also found it beneficial to suggest to golfers who suffer from the yips that they work an extra component into their pre-shot routine; One that involves intentionally relaxing his or her muscles so as to promote fluidity and naturalness of motion. Once again, try it and see how this feels for you. Everyone is different and so you have to try things and make them work in your own way.
As I always end up saying, golf is a very, very mental game. Even things that appear to be entirely mechanical or physical incorporate a huge mental component. Every swing that you make begins with a thought, be it conscious or unconscious. To play golf well, one has to respect the input of his or her mind and work to control and direct both conscious and unconscious thought and emotional processes.
Roseanna Leaton, golf addict and specialist in golf hypnosis mp3s and author of the GolferWithin golf mind training system.
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