Former professional golfer Tommy Armour is credited with inventing the term “yips” to describe a combination of psychological and neuromuscular factors that forced his early retirement from competitive golf, but I believe his assessment of this insidious condition is completely off the mark! It is a much more all-encompassing affliction that can strike any pro, amateur or tournament player – or even entire teams – at any time!
Tommy attributed the “YIPS” to a twitch that occurred just before his crucial swing or putt that he had to make and caused him to miss. While it's true that this might be the case for him and some others it is not the case for all sports players.
How many times have you watched a one-on-one sports player, or team miss a crucial goal when there should have been no question as to it's outcome! You ask yourself “How could they (meaning: he, she or them) have missed? Well, the answer is obvious… the dreaded “YIPS”!!
I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist but having played class “A” tournament snooker as a sport, I understand the “Yips” all too well!
Since most sports depend on body memory-that practiced repetitive action that a sports player has to be able to perform instinctively- is the factor that suffers and causes the “yips”.
And why does this happen?
I'm afraid the causes are far too numerous and individual to itemize here. But let's try one and see if you agree.
Take the case of Tiger Woods. Without a doubt, the best golfer in the world but he's struggling. Why?
Not too difficult to understand you might say but it's a combination of things that causes the “yips”. He's had marital problems, sponsorship problems, peer pressure problems and medical problems we are not aware of. Everywhere he turns there are problems. Not an environment conducive to good golf.
So in this case it's a given. Inability to focus!
The “Yips” can creep into any sports player's game or sports team without even recognizing it. Self-doubt, indecision, lack of focus, fear, slight changes in body memory that occur over time and pressure from without, all these factors contribute!
So what's the cure? For me it was back to basics and re-focus. But that's only me because I had to keep adjusting for my eyesight problems. The cure is as individual as the person himself and sometimes takes outside intervention.