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Disease: Yips Yips
Category: Neurological diseases

Disease Definition:

Yips are involuntary wrist spasms. Although yips can affect people who play darts, cricket and baseball, but they usually occur when golfers are trying to putt.


Although it was once believed that the yips were associated with performance anxiety, but it appears now that some people have yips caused by a focal dystonia, a neurological dysfunction that affects specific muscles.


By changing the way they perform an affected task, some people have found relief from the yips. For instance, a left-handed golfer might try putting right-handed.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


The involuntary movements linked with the yips could:


  • Come and go
  • Occur at the beginning or middle of the stroke
  • Worsen during high-pressure situations


Some psychological or neurological factors could cause yips.



Some athletes could become so anxious and self-focused in a pressure situation, over-thinking to the point of distraction, that their ability to execute a skill is impaired, such as putting. An extreme form of performance anxiety is choking, which could compromise a golfer’s game, and in some cases, it could trigger the yips.



The yips are a type of focal dystonia in some people, which is a condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions during a specific task. It is similar to a writer’s cramp, which is related to overuse of a certain set of muscles.
With anxiety, the effect becomes even worse.





A change of technique or equipment could help because of the fact that the yips are related to overuse of specific muscles.
Some of the possible strategies are:

Mental skills training:

Visualization, relaxation or positive thinking, along with other techniques can help ease fear of the yips, reduce anxiety and increase concentration.

Change the grip:

Because this technique changes the muscles a person uses to make his/her putting stroke, it usually works with many golfers. However, changing the grip might not make much difference if someone has the type of yips that is related to performance anxiety.

Use a different putter:

Some putters are designed with a special grip in order to help stabilize the hands and wrists, and a longer putter allows a person to use less of his/her hands and wrists while putting and more of the arms and shoulders.


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