Big Play: How to beat swing yips that plagued Kevin Na at Players Championship

Big Play: How to beat swing yips that plagued Kevin Na at Players Championship

Kevin Na shot a 76 on Sunday at the Players and finished tied for seventh.
Carlos M. Saavedra / SI

WHO: Kevin Na
WHAT: 224-yard fairway wood from a cart path to the front of the green
WHERE: 462-yard par-4 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass
WHEN: Final round of the Players Championship

Na really has a problem, doesn't he? He says he can't pull the trigger because he feels uncomfortable over the ball with his posture and his setup. Na is simply thinking way too much, intently focusing on his swing rather than his target. I've never seen a case like Na's, which I would call the 'Swing Yips.' Somehow, Na improved a little between the third and fourth rounds. On Sunday, he still took an agonizingly huge number of waggles and re-swings, but he was at times a bit quicker. One of his quickest shots was his last full swing, a terrific fairway wood from a cart path. Na had a free drop and could've dropped in two places: in thick rough on a slope beside the path, or directly onto the pavement. He wisely chose the path because it was a smooth, flat lie.

THE DRILL: I see lots of people who are uncomfortable at address and have trouble starting their swings. All of them, like Na, are too focused on their swings rather than their targets. The fix: at address think target, not swing. Here are some things to do when practicing to free up your mind at address.

1. Give yourself a set time for the pre-shot routine. Then have somebody time you at address to make sure you never exceed the set time. This has been very helpful in my work with top players. Interestingly, I've found that when a player is too quick in his routine he tends to hit slices, and he'll hit hooks when he's too slow. (It's no coincidence that Na's big misses were often hooks.)
2. Visualize every part of the ball flight, things like the arc it will travel, where it'll land and how much it'll roll.
3. Relax your grip pressure. Lighter pressure frees your body and thoughts.
4. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Suttie teaches at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill.