Brazilian Journal of Motor Behavior
Research Notes
400 of 406
Quiet eye training alleviates the yips in golf putting: a research proposal
Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
Correspondence to:!Joan N. Vickers. Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Canada.
AB Pseudonym of a professional
EEG Electroencephalogram
ms Milliseconds
QE Quiet eye
QET Quiet eye training
YIPS The occurrence of involuntary
movements during the execution
of a fine motor skill
Received 09 04 2022
Accepted 17 11 2022
Published 15 12 2022
A research proposal is presented based on a unique quiet eye training (QET) program developed for a golfer
who suffered from the YIPS. After receiving the QET program she overcame the YIPS and continued to perform
on the LPGA tour. While positive results with one golfer is encouraging, a larger study is proposed involving
YIPS sufferers in two groups, a QET group that received the program described herein, and a Control group
undergoing traditional YIPS motor training. Both QE and electroencephalogram (EEG) data will be collected,
with the goal to determine if the QET group established a neural network that differed from that of the Control
group that contributed to a return of putting accuracy.
KEYWORDS: Eye movements | Sport | Expertise | Vision | Anxiety
The YIPS got its name from Tommy Armour, a professional golfer who in 1927
found he could not perform the fine movements needed to putt accurately. The YIPS is
“defined as the occurrence of involuntary movements during the execution of a fine motor
skill and it is a common phenomenon, with a reported prevalence of 28 48%” of elite
golfers (p. 1)
. Smith, Adler
define the YIPS as “a psycho-neuromuscular impediment
affecting the execution of the putting stroke in golf” (p. 426). Watanabe, Yoshioka
define the disorder as lying on a continuum with focal dystonia at one end (neurological)
and choking under pressure at the other (psychological choking). The cause of the YIPS is
unknown, but the symptoms have been widely documented. For example, in a meta-
analysis by Clark et al (2015)
of 1429 studies, the YIPS occurred in sports as diverse as
golf, shooting, darts, table tennis, cricket, cricket, bowling, baseball, archery, gymnastics.
The YIPS tends to afflict older elite athletes who are no longer able to perform well learned
skills where fine motor control is critical. The symptoms include heightened muscle
activation, an inability to initiate well learned movements, anxiety, obsessive thoughts
about technique, erratic eye movements and loss of focus. Of these the lack of visual
focus which prevents the golfer from reading the green appropriately during the aiming of
the putt, and an inability to maintain a long duration quiet eye (QE) during the stroke is
A research proposal is presented based on a quiet eye training (QET) program
developed for a professional golfer AB (a pseudonym) who in her 13
LPGA season
BJMB! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!Research Notes!
401 of 406
suffered from the psychological form of the YIPS. After a QE training program of about four
months, AB overcame the YIPS in her 14
season and experienced her 2
best year
financially on the LPGA tour
. She was 15
in putting average in the league, improving
from 1.86 putts per hole to 1.79. She is currently participating in LPGA events. AB
ascribed her success as her mind being so busy on quiet eye (QE) she had no time, or no
other space to think of other things.
While positive results with one golfer are encouraging, a larger study is proposed
involving two groups of golfers who are suffering from the YIPS, a QET group that receives
the QE training program described herein, and a Control group that undergoes traditional
technical motor training. Two goals are pursued, to present a unique QET program
designed for YIPS that improves accuracy, and provide electroencephalogram (EEG)
evidence that the QET program leads to changes in neural activation that is unique for the
QET group compared to the Control group.
What is the QE and QET?
The first QE study was published 25 years ago
and the first QET studies shortly
. The QE is the final fixation or pursuit tracking gaze that begins before the
onset of a critical phase of the movement
. The QE is maintained on a specific location
or object in the task environment within of visual angle (or less) for a minimum of 100
milliseconds (ms). Studies in golf putting show the QE is the final fixation that is located on
the back of the ball before the onset of the backswing within of visual angle for more
than 100 ms
. The QE offset occurs when the gaze deviates off the ball and
underlying green by more than for more 100 ms. The QE duration of highly skilled
golfers is 2.0 - 3.0 s compared to 1.0 - 1.5 s for lower skilled golfers, with longer putts
having a longer QE. Meta-analyses
confirm that a long duration QE is a significant
characteristic of high levels of expertise and accuracy in golf putting and many other skills.
Moreover, once the QE of expert golfers is known, those undergoing QET develop a
longer QE duration and a significant increases in accuracy compared to those who are
technically trained
A QET program for the YIPS in Golf
AB revealed she had trouble focusing and no longer trusted the visual information
she was using as she set up and performed short putts, while she had no problem on
longer putts. One characteristics of the YIPS is that it occurs primarily during short putts,
when both near and far target information is available, and rarely during longer putts where
it is impossible to see the target peripherally. AB explained she used brief eye movements
on numerous targets - the hole the ball, the club, the green and experienced a state of
confusion where she could not decide which was best as the stroke was performed - to
rely on near vision on the ball and/or club, or far vision on the target, or a combination of
both locations.
The steps used to implement a QET program have been explained elsewhere so
they will be briefly described here
. The first step is to record the QE of the trainee
using a mobile eye tracker synchronized to an external camera that records the putting
movements. Second, using a video of an expert golf prototype derived from research the
optimal QE location, QE onset, QE critical movement, QE offset and QE duration is taught.
Third, video feedback is provided the trainee of their own QE compared frame by frame
BJMB! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!Research Notes!
402 of 406
with that of the expert. Fourth, QET continues until all five QE characteristics (QE location,
QE onset, QE critical movement, QE offset, QE duration) have been mastered under a
variety of practice and play conditions.
The goal of QET is to shift attention away from trying to control specific muscle
groups during the stroke to a QE focus that uses a sequence of eye movements not
reported before in QET studies. Golfers who suffer from the YIPS are overinvested in their
physical/ biomechanical technique and often fail to read the green properly and develop an
aiming strategy that is effective
. As a consequence during QET there is limited emphasis
on the physical, technical aspects of putting and instead emphasis on visual and cognitive
skills needed to successfully aim for accuracy. Two phases of the putt were emphasized -
an aiming phase and a QE phase. During the aiming phase the golfer assumes their
stance and places the putter face as close to the back of the ball as possible. Fixations are
used on the green to determine a specific target location where the ball will be aimed. Two
targets exist in putting, a location on the hole on straight putts, and on sloping greens a
location where the ball is expected to roll toward the hole. Through a process of pattern
recognition and decision making an aim line is established between the target location, the
back of the ball and the middle of putter face. Most putters have a line inscribed on the
centre of the putter and golfers often mark a centre line on the ball. This aiming process
establishes the location, direction, and distance to the target. The QE phase begins about
a second before the backswing and begins once the line between the centre of the putter,
the centre back of the ball and target has been refined and committed to memory. During
the stroke the QE is held stable on the back of the ball during the backswing, foreswing,
contact, and on the green under the ball as the club follows through toward the intended
target, resulting in a total QE period of two to three seconds. This means the only thing the
golfer focuses on as the stroke is performed is perfecting the contact between the centre
club face and the centre back of the ball. The stroke is therefore performed with cognitive
information pertinent to aiming accuracy held in memory. Studies that have assessed both
the QE and club movement show that misses occur when golfers have a shorter QE
duration, resulting in poor club-ball contact, while those with a longer duration QE exhibit
stable acceleration and increased accuracy
QE and EEG of The QET and Control Groups
At the outset alleviating two YIPS characteristics was proposed. The first was to
re-direct the attention of the QET group away from thoughts about physical technique to a
QET routine that establishes a precise aim line to the target that takes into account
meaningful aiming conditions on the green. A secondary goal is to determine if the QET
group establishes a neural network that differs from that of the Control group. Biological
neural networks were first described by Hebb
as occurring “when an axon of cell A is
near enough to excite a cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some
growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A's
efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased’ (p. 62). Shat (p. 64) caught the essence
of this neural event in the famous rhyme: “what fires together, wires together”
The past ten years has resulted in studies seeking to determine how specific areas
of the brain lead to increased accuracy in aiming sports
. Of importance in the current
proposal is a novel study by Chueh, Lu
in which four neural networks (Fθ, FCα, SMR,
T3a) were investigated during successful (61%) and unsuccessful putts (39%) performed
BJMB! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!Research Notes!
403 of 406
by highly skilled right handed golfers. Sixty putts were performed three meters distant from
a regulation hole. Instead of reporting results from individual electrodes, clusters of
electrodes were combined known to have specific cognitive and/or motor processing
functions. Fθ frontal theta included activation of F3, Fz, and F4 and measured attentional
focus to achieve a specific motor goal. FCα included recordings from FC3, FCz, and FC4
and measured activation from the supplementary motor area associated with motor
planning and organization of voluntary action. SMR recorded from the motor cortex C3, Cz,
and C4 and is associated with a quieting of the motor cortex during well learned actions.
T3a (also labelled T7) was a single electrode recording from left temporal cortex involved
in the inhibition of distracting thoughts and emotions. The results showed that successful
putting was not explained by the activation of one of the networks alone, or one of the
electrodes. Instead, successful putts occurred when both frontal theta Fθ and left temporal
T3a were activated, along with the co-activation of SMR and FCα, indicating cognitive
skills reflective of refined attention allocation and effective motor processing. Unsuccessful
putts occurred when there was simultaneous activation of all four networks at once. They
concluded that “multiple neural processes regarding attention processing measured on a
cortical scale modulate putting performance. That is, attentional processes of superior
performances can be equated as a “refinement of attentional state” associated with
psychomotor efficiency when there are decreasing intrusive attentional processes (T3α)
accompanied by a heightened focus (Fθ) on the task at hand. In this manner, skilled
golfers achieve elevated efficiency by allocating synergistic neural resources towards
essential attentional processes (i.e., increased focus and engagement on the task-specific
elements in concert with lowered verbal-analytic activity) to achieve a successful cognitive-
motor performance”.
Cheuh et al did not report the motor phases of the putt, nor did they report the
eyes movements or QE of the golfers, however Xu et al
assessed the QE and EEG of
golfers during QE pre, which was three seconds before the onset of backswing and
therefore similar to the aiming phase, and QE post which was three seconds after contact
and similar to the QE phase. One hundred putts were performed at a distance of two
meters by right handed university students to a regulation hole during hits (24.86%) when
the ball went in the hole and misses (44.64%) which were more than 20 cm from the hole.
EEG was recorded from Fz (prefrontal cortex), Cz (premotor cortex), and Pz (parietal
cortex). The QE was measured using electro-oculography (EOG) which provided the
duration of QE pre, QE post and QE total (QE pre plus QE post). Hits were associated with
a longer QE pre, QE post, and QE total compared to misses. Cortical activation was
greater in Fz, Cz and Pz during hits than misses. They also found greater activation in Fz
than in Pz during hits than misses. They conclude that “greater attention was allocated to
the visuomotor components in successful than unsuccessful putts during the QE periods
and the parameters of movement were efficiently programmed and fine-tuned, resulting in
more effective physiological responses and movement kinematics” (p. 7). Regrettably
given a limitation of EOG technology no information was available indicating what the
golfers were fixating during QE pre and QE post, however we can hypothesize that during
the aiming phase an aim line was established which included fixations toward a specific
target location, the middle back of the ball and the middle of the club, then during the
stroke the QE was fixated the back of the ball while the location of the target, the middle of
the club and aim line were held in memory. This may account for the elevated activation in
BJMB! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!Research Notes!
404 of 406
Fz, relative to Cz and Pz during hits versus misses found by Xu et al.
To my knowledge no QE/EEG studies exist that includes YIPS sufferers. Given
results by Cheuh et al and Xu et al, it is expected that during the pretest both the QET and
Control group will exhibit an absence of co-activation of Fθ and T3a, and FCa and SMR
during the aiming phase and instead fire all four networks exhibiting a lack of focus and
cognitive decision making critical in aiming. After training, the QET group will differ
significantly from the Control group by creating an aiming line as described in the QET
program followed by a stable QE as the stroke is performed. Co-activation of Fθ and T3a,
and FCa and SMR will occur as described by Cheuh et al, while the Control group will
perform as in the pre-test.
In summary, the QET program leads golfers to make all the decisions needed to
perform the stroke during the aiming phase, and during the stroke the sole purpose of the
QE is to perfect contact between the centre of the putter face and the centre back of the
ball followed by the QE dwelling on the underlying green for a half second. Only after this
should the golfer look up to see where the ball has gone. The QET golfers possess task
and context specific aiming information that is meaningful resulting in a stroking action
taken with purpose and confidence and increased accuracy, while golfers in the Control
group will experience a dissociation between the cognitive processes that occur during the
aim phase and attempt to perform the putt blindly under conditions of uncertainty and an
inability to initiate the stroke with the specific aiming information needed to perform
1. Klampfl MK, Lobinger BH, Raab M. Reinvestment--the cause of the yips? PLoS One.
2013;8:e82470. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082470
2. Smith AM, Adler CH, Crews D, Wharen RE, Laskowski ER, Barnes K, et al. The ‘Yips’ in
Golf: A Continuum Between a Focal Dystonia and Choking. Sports Medicine. 2003;33:13-
3. Watanabe T, Yoshioka K, Matsushita K, Ishihara S. Modulation of sensorimotor cortical
oscillations in athletes with yips. Sci Rep. 2021;11:10376. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-89947-
4. Clarke P, Sheffield D, Akehurst S. The yips in sport: A systematic review. Int Rev Sport
Exerc Psychol. 2015;8:156-184. doi: 10.1080/1750984x.2015.1052088
5. LPGA Statistics, (2022, accessed April 20, 2022 2022).
6. Vickers JN. Visual control when aiming at a far target. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform.
7. Harle SK, Vickers JN. Training quiet eye improves accuracy in the basketball free throw.
Sport Psychol. 2001;15:289-305.
8. Adolphe RA, Vickers JN, Laplante G. The effects of training visual attention on gaze
behaviour and accurcy: A pilot Study. Int J Sports Vis. 1997;4:28-33.
9. Vickers JN. Perception, Cognition & Decision Training: The Quiet Eye in Action.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics 2007.
BJMB! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!Research Notes!
405 of 406
10. Vickers JN. Origins and current issues in Quiet Eye research. Curr Issues Sport Sci.
2016;1:1-10. doi: 10.15203/CISS_2016.101
11. Behan M, Wilson M. State anxiety and visual attention: The role of the quiet eye period in
aiming to a far target. J Sports Sci. 2008;26:207-215. doi: 10.1080/02640410701446919
12. Moore LJ, Vine SJ, Cooke A, Ring C, Wilson M. Quiet eye training expedites motor
learning and aids performance under heightened anxiety: The roles of response
programming and external attention. Psychophysiology. 2012;49:1005-1015. doi:
13. Mann DT, Williams AM, Ward P, Janelle CM. Perceptual-cognitive expertise in sport: a
meta-analysis. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2007;29:457-478.
14. Lebeau JC, Liu S, Saenz-Moncaleano C, Sanduvete-Chaves S, Chacon-Moscoso S,
Becker BJ, et al. Quiet Eye and Performance in Sport: A Meta-Analysis. J Sport Exerc
Psychol. 2016;38:441-457. doi: 10.1123/jsep.2015-0123
15. Vine SJ, Moore LJ, Wilson MR. Quiet eye training facilitates competitive putting
performance in elite golfers. Front Psychol. 2011;2:8. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00008.
16. Vickers JN. Advances in coupling perception and action: the quiet eye as a bidirectional
link between gaze, attention, and action. In: Markus Raab JGJ, Hauke RH (eds). Progress
in Brain Research. Elsevier; 2009:pp.279-288.
17. Masters R, Maxwell J. The theory of reinvestment. Int Rev Sport Exerc Psychol.
2008;1:160-183. doi: 10.1080/17509840802287218
18. Hebb DO. The Organization of Behavior. Montreal: McGill University; 1949.
19. Shatz C. The developing brain. SciAm. 1992;267:60-67. doi:
20. Vickers JN, Willams AM. The Role of Mental Processes in Elite Sports Performance.
Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology,
-9780190236557-e-161?rskey=Eiwexp&result=1 (2017)
21. Hatfield BD. Brain Dynamics and Motor Behavior: A Case for Efficiency and Refinement for
Superior Performance. Kinesiol Rev. 2018;1:42-50. doi: 10.1123/kr.2017-0056
22. Filho E, Dobersek U, Husselman TA. The role of neural efficiency, transient hypofrontality
and neural proficiency in optimal performance in self-paced sports: a meta-analytic review.
Exp Brain Res. 2021;239:1381-1393. doi: 10.1007/s00221-021-06078-9
23. Chueh TY, Lu CM, Huang CJ, Hatfield BD, Hung TM. Collaborative neural processes
predict successful cognitive-motor performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2022. doi:
24. Xu S, Sun G, Wilson MR. Neurophysiological evidence of how quiet eye supports motor
performance. Cogn Process. 2021. doi: 10.1007/s10339-021-01036-3
BJMB! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!Research Notes!
406 of 406
Citation: Vickers JN. (2022). Quiet Eye Training Alleviates the YIPS in Golf Putting: A Research Proposal. Brazilian
Journal of Motor Behavior, 16(5):400-406.
Editor-in-chief: Dr Fabio Augusto Barbieri - São Paulo State University (UNESP), Bauru, SP, Brazil. !
Associate editors: Dr José Angelo Barela - São Paulo State University (UNESP), Rio Claro, SP, Brazil; Dr Natalia
Madalena Rinaldi - Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES), Vitória, ES, Brazil; Dr Renato de Moraes University
of São Paulo (USP), Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil.
Copyright:© 2022 de Vickers and BJMB. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-
profit sectors.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.