The Yips

I have just been on ABC Victoria talking about sport across the weekend.

When we were chatting about the netball I used the word, “Yips.”

“What are the yips?” asked Ann-Marie, the fill-in presenter.

This led to a discussion about the yips, and then it kept coming up through the 20 minute chat. We were talking about the US Open, the World Cup of Darts (what a final between Scotland and England) and other sports.

I am in a near-permanent state of putting yips. There have been times when I have not had the mental strength to pull the putter back. I remember missing from 14 inches for par at the fifth at Ocean Shores, having already missed the six foot birdie putt. I can still feel it. I can still see it.

Why is it that we have such anxiety about something as trivial as a game of golf with a few mates?

Who are some of the classic yips sufferers?





About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. You following the Leader Board at the US Open Harmie? I don’t know if it’s the worse case of yips, but it’s the most recent I can think of. And arguably the saddest.

  2. Mick O’Loughlin in the 2005 Grand Final

    gave the swans some spark in the forward line though

  3. Dave Brown says

    Bob Massie a classic example in cricket. From 16 wickets on test debut to finishing a career on 6 tests. Completely lost the ability to swing the ball which was his main weapon. Remember seeing something recently suggesting they’d worked out the cognitive processes that lead to the yips. A bit late for my second serve, sadly.

  4. Bob Speechley says

    Although you were discussing it you presumably didn’t watch the Women’s Netball Grand Final – it was a classic case of yipping on the line.

    (Sorry I guess you were at The Cattery for Cory’s Memorable 300th)


  5. IBF

  6. Callum O'Connor says

    Travis Cloke going to the extraordinary lengths of asking people to stop criticising his goal kicking.

  7. Lewis Jetta kicking 19 points in a roe

  8. Fat fingers.www

  9. Yips/Mental Implosion Hall of Fame:
    1. Jana Novotna – Wimbledon 1993
    2. Scott Selwood – football in hand anytime, but particularly MCG 190615.
    3. Peter Baulderstone – Royal Maylands 200615. Best ball striking round until within 6 feet of the cup. Work in progress.

  10. Citrus Bob says

    Nat Fyfe in the 2013 Grand Final could not kick a goal to save himself

  11. Doug Sanders 1970 Open Championship & Jean van de Velde 1999.

  12. Jonathan Trott

  13. When discussing the yips I am always reminded of Chris Matthews, the left arm pace bowler who took truck-loads of Shield wickets, but yet could not land the ball on the cut surface in Test cricket.

  14. I hasten to add that a “near-permanent” state of the yips may well be called something completely different.

  15. Smoke, I was there at the Gabba for the Matthews disintegration.

    Re permanent state of yips, what’s the counter name then for the days when you are actually stroking the putts properly. (Once a year)?

    Dips, Go to St Andrews and stand on the first tee. The first and eighteenth fairways form one vast open paddock many footy fields wide. If you pull your drive you’re still not far offcentre. If you hook your drive badly you may trickle onto the eighteenth fairway. For IBF to reach the fence on the other side of the eighteenth fairway is a remarkable feat. You cannot imagine it’s possible. Here it is:

  16. Dr Goatboat says

    Ian Baker-Finch clearly comes to mind…

  17. Peter Fuller says

    I can relate to Peter Baulderstone’s personal reference. Yesterday in the course of my regular ritual humiliation on the golf course, I was striking woods and irons with abandon, but fell apart on the green, and occasionally nearby.

  18. The Great White Fish Finger, aka Greg Norman, was prone to a large degree of YIPS when he could least afford it.


  19. Malcolm Ashwood says

    John Watkins selected more on promise than performance in shield cricket for the last test against,Pakistan in 73 could not land his leggies on the mown strip
    ( did have match winning partnership with Bob Massie as it turned out) he then went to the West Indies where the players said he was our best bowler in the nets but again could not land them in the practice games came back to aust( don’t think he even played another shield game?) he retired soon after

  20. Peter Vine says

    Simon Eishold 1987 preliminary final. Last quarter miss from about 5 metres. Could have saved Jimmy from the ignominy of ‘the running through the mark’ incident

  21. Australian tennis player Mark Edmondson was prone to the yips. Wimbledon 1977 2 sets to love up against Vijay Amritaj; he lost. Same tournament three years later, 2 sets to 1, 5-1 up in the fourth against Wojtek Fibak,again he was rolled. Davis Cup semi final at White City 1979, he led the American Vitas Gerulaitis, 2 sets to love, had three consecutive match points, but could not convert them, on his way to another disappointing loss. Yep, Eddo was a chap prone to the yips.


  22. Harmsy,
    There may or may not be a story about a young footy-tripping Smokie who was unceremoniously ejected from Chris Matthews’ Hobart hotel. The young Smokie may or may not have ranted “How about concentrating on getting one on the pitch rather than booting me out?”
    But of course, what happens on the trip…

Leave a Comment