Overhead photo of 30 empty pickleball courts.
Life Time Kingwood, site of the Veolia Houston Open earlier this season on the PPA Tour. PPA Tour

SOS: I have the pickleball yips

DALLAS, TX – I hate to admit it, but I’ve had a case of the pickleball yips.

I called out “0-0-2” and suddenly it’s like I completely forgot how to serve.

Do I drop serve? Do I let the ball bounce first? Hit it overhead like in tennis? Goodness no, that can’t be right. That’s not even legal.

My ball crashes into the net and it has none of my usual power and control. Then, my partner is looking at me in complete bewilderment. After all, they’ve seen me serve successfully hundreds of times by now. 

So, what’s going on?

That's definitely the yips.  

What are the yips? 

The term “yips” was popularized by Tommy Armour, a professional golfer turned teacher, who used it to explain the phenomenon of athletes suddenly being unable to perform basic tasks seemingly because of nervousness.

While it was originally coined for golfers, the yips is a condition that affects athletes in every sport - including pickleball. 

Spectators have witnessed countless yips-related scenarios in baseballgolf and tennis, not to mention cases upon cases in recreational and amateur play.

Strategies to beat the yips:

1. Practice your serve standing midcourt. Then gradually take a step back every time your ball is in.  

2. Change up your serve.

  - Hit a backhand serve.

  - Try a drop serve.

  - Hit a bounce serve.

3. Slow down and think about your timing 

Oftentimes, the yips are caused by performance anxiety. So, slow down, take a breath, and hit your serve with a bit of a delay to focus on the timing of your serve. 

4. Distract yourself

Sing your favorite pickleball hype song to calm the nerves. It might sound silly, but you’d be surprised how well it works. 

5. Stop serving and start drilling

One of the best things to do is just get your mind off of it. Start doing wall drills like   Christian Alshon, or practice those cross-court drills you’ve been wanting to try out. Stepping away from serving can actually serve you well. 

Even professional pickleballers get the yips. At MLP AtlantaConnor Garnett appeared to have the yips on his serve. 

He recovered quickly, though, and got his serve back in working order.

Bottom line... if the pros can conquer the yips, so can you. 

Any tips for the yips? Share them with us on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).