Understanding the Yips in Golf: Thoughts, Feelings, and Focus of Attention in Yips-Affected Golfers

in The Sport Psychologist
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The yips in golf is the interruption of a smooth putting movement by an involuntary jerk or freezing of the arm. Psychological factors seem to worsen the phenomenon. However, published data on how the yips in golf is cognitively and emotionally experienced are very limited. Moreover, the focus of attention in yips-affected golfers has not been investigated. Thus, we interviewed 17 yips-affected golfers to record the thoughts and feelings that are experienced in a situation in which the yips occurs. In addition, we asked them about their focus of attention right before putting. Content analysis revealed a negative cognitive and emotional pattern for all golfers. Furthermore, 11 participants reported focusing either internally or on possible mistakes. The results contribute to an understanding of the yips in golf and provide a starting point for further investigations into possible interventions for the yips.

Philippen is with the Neurocognition and Action Research Group and Excellence Cluster for Cognitive Interaction Technology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany. Lobinger is with the Dept. of Performance Psychology, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.

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