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Sunday, October 4, 2020

Why Putting with Your Eyes Closed Works (Video)

I just want to take a few moments to talk about why Sergio is putting better with his eyes closed. Here's his Saturday interview with Lisa Cornwell, and we'll go from there.

Everybody thinks the yips are some kind of mystical unexplainable problem that has no clear treatment. But in most cases, my friends, that is a pure and utter lie.

It's true that some cases of the yips are caused by physical problems. For example, the great Harry Vardon's putting stroke was altered by the effects of tuberculosis. Vardon won six majors before he had TB but only one major afterward. The disease did, on occasion, affect his full swing but for the most part it just made his putting unpredictable.

The real source of the putting yips is mental and it's easy to describe. Putting yips are merely the result of trying to micromanage your stroke. It's the same for any type of yips -- driving yips are no different.

Here's how it happens: It begins when you think you're missing too many putts and you decide you're going to improve... but that's not the problem. Rather, it's how you decide to improve. You start trying to control every little aspect of your stroke.

  • You try to create the perfect swing arc -- or straight line stroke, if that's your chosen approach to the task.
  • You try to create the perfect angle of attack, so the putterhead is moving level or just upward at impact.
  • You try to develop create perfect contact at impact so you're always hitting exactly in the center of the putterface.
  • You try to create the perfect rhythm for your stroke, with the backswing being just the right length and the followthrough being just the right length, with no recoil at impact.
  • You try to create perfect distance control so the ball always drops in with perfect pace or rolls precisely 18 inches past the cup when you miss. Again, your exact goal may vary depending on your chosen putting method.
  • And so on...

There's nothing wrong with trying to get better at putting. The problem is that you try to make it perfect and, as a result, you start trying to control movements that should happen naturally.

Imagine how horrible it would be if you had to control every breath you take, constantly adjusting for exertion, air purity, emotional state, and so on.

At the very least, you'd lose all rhythm. Your breathing would become jerky and irregular. You'd end up gasping for breath because you could never adjust for all the variables.

In a word, you would have 'breathing yips.'

What's the solution? You'd need to stop trying to control your breathing all the time and 'just let it happen.'

I know, easier said than done. But Sergio is closing his eyes when he putts in order to do just that.

Listen to what he says in the video. He says he's trying to get more smoothness in his stroke. And I like when he says that 'the less things he has in his eyes' the better he does.

That really is the key here.

Putting yips are centered around trying to overcontrol the moment of contact with the ball. As the putterhead approaches the ball you become more anxious, your muscles tighten, and as a result you interrupt the normally smooth stroke that you'd make if you weren't trying so hard.

Sergio understands. If you can't see the ball, you don't know when the club is about to make contact. And if you don't know when impact will happen, you don't tense up in anticipation of hitting the ball. Since you can't see when it's going to happen, eventually your mind stops trying to guess when and just lets the putter swing

Tah-dah! The result is a smooth stroke.

You address the ball, close your eyes and all you can do is try to feel how hard to swing in order to get the ball to the hole. You have to trust your memory -- visualize the putt -- and just trust your feel.

Over time -- and it doesn't have to be a long time, although it's hard to predict how long it will take any given person -- but over time your mind gets out of that 'perfection' mindset and just starts swinging the club the way you did when you were a kid. When you finally realize that you don't have to be perfect and you start to trust your swing, the yips go away and you just might be able to start looking at the ball again when you putt.

Basically you're just retraining your mind to think like a child and NOT think about technique.

It really is that simple... and that hard. Giving up control and just letting the putt happen can be extremely hard or extremely easy. Perfectionists tend to have more trouble with it than laidback players. But in the end it's really all up to you because everybody can do it, because you do plenty of other things everyday that you don't overthink and you do them well. Just approach putting the same way.

Stop making the act of putting so important, and you'll be surprised how easy it can be.

1 comment:

  1. Erika Hara posted a 66 on Saturday when most other contenders were struggling to take the lead by 4 strokes at the Japan Women's Open, then put it into cruise control on Sunday with a final round 68 to maintain that margin for her first ever JLPGA major.