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.
Philipp Bennet Philippen and Babett H. Lobinger
Babett H. Lobinger, Martin K. Klämpfl, and Eckart Altenmüller
Paradoxical performance can be described simply as a sudden decrease in a top athlete’s performance despite the athlete’s having striven for superior performance, such as the lost-skill syndrome in trampolining or “the yips” in golf. There is a growing amount of research on these phenomena, which resemble movement disorders. What appears to be missing, however, is a clear phenomenology of the affected movement characteristics leading to a classification of the underlying cause. This understanding may enable specific diagnostic methods and appropriate interventions. We first review the different phenomena, providing an overview of their characteristics and their occurrence in sports and describing the affected sports and movements. We then analyze explanations for the yips, the most prominent phenomenon, and review the methodological approaches for diagnosing and treating it. Finally, we present and elaborate an action theoretical approach for diagnosing paradoxical performance and applying appropriate interventions.