Recognize the Symptoms
What is the Cause?
- One stroke over par, one behind the leader, you step up to putt, and all of a sudden, your wrists are shaking. It's the yips!
- Yips are found in up to 25 percent of all golfers, and in other sports that use the wrists, like
- People often blame yips, involuntary wrist and hand spasms, on performance anxiety. And, in some cases, they're right. But yips may also have a neurological basis. Symptoms of yips include involuntary tremors, jerks or freezing of the hands or wrists during physical activity in those areas. For example, a golfer would typically experience spasms at the start or in the middle of her swing. The spasms may also increase in high-pressure situations.
- Finally, these symptoms may come and go. Knowing the two possible causes of yips, psychological and neurological, can help you overcome them.
What is the Cause?
- When the cause of yips is neurological, focal dystonia causes muscles to contract involuntarily. It's probably caused by repeated use of a particular set of muscles. The chance of spasms in this case is increased by anxiety. Another contributing factor is old age.
- In other cases, anxiety is the sole cause--"choking" under pressure. This type of yips is a psychological response to performance anxiety. What's more, it may feed on itself. In other words, as performance anxiety increases, so does yips.
- Once yips has affected your performance once, you think about it the next time. Your fear of getting spasms again may actually bring it on.
- Overcoming yips relies on combating either or both of its two potential causes.
- First, since it may be related to overuse of muscles in the wrist, finding a new grip can be curative. If you change your golf grip, for example, you change the muscles you use for putting, and may get rid of the yips. In the same vein, getting a longer putter may solve the problem for the same reason. You might also seek out a putter with a special stabilizing grip.
- If changing your grip had no effect, the cause is more likely to be psychological than neurological.
- Both neurologically and psychologically caused yips respond to a programme of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy