How to Beat The Yips in Sports
The yips can afflict athletes in any sport.
No matter the sport or your level of experience, the yips can become problematic.
In golf, the yips can hamper a golfer’s ability to swing a club freely. Faced with a 3-foot putt, a golfer with the yips might hesitate before getting the putter moving forward or jerk during the stroke, making easy putts just as challenging as those from a much further distance.
In baseball, the yips can hinder routine throws. An infielder with the yips will often double clutch, grip the ball too tightly or try to over-control the ball during routine throws, causing the throw to bounce into the ground or be thrown wildly off target.
In basketball, the yips can interfere with a player’s ability to shoot efficiently. A basketball player with the yips may hesitate at some point during their shooting motion, over-think their form or try to guide the ball into the basket, instead of shooting with full trust.
Think of examples in your sport where you, or another athlete you were watching, suddenly had an unexplained hitch while performing a routine task.
It’s frustrating, maddening, anxiety ridden, mentally wearing and even causes some athletes to walk away from their sport.
One athlete who walked away from his sport due to a mental battle with the yips is Hayden Hurst…
In 2012, Hurst was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the yips prevented Hurst from reaching the Major Leagues.
Hurst had a lot of potential with a 97 MPH fastball and all the tools necessary to be a solid pitcher on the major league level.
All changed in his second year in the minors when Hurst developed the yips. Hurst lost command of his pitches and once hit a batter in the head knocking him unconscious.
HURST: “After that, it got 1,000 times worse… The wheels came off. I can’t really explain it. It just happened out of nowhere.”
The yips not only baffled Hurst but were the reason he walked away from baseball… Forever!
HURST: “To this day. I haven’t really figured out what happened… Haven’t tried [to throw a baseball since leaving the Pirate’s organization] to be honest. Haven’t even gone near a baseball field.”
What makes the yips even more mentally challenging is that you might perform well in practice and you feel you are making progress, then out of nowhere, the yips strike in a game.
After a while the yo-yo nature of the yips begins to take hold of your mind and you begin to question your ability, technique and, even, your level of talent.
At that point, your trust in your game has completely gone and your confidence is shot.
HURST: “It’s a battle inside your head every single second of the day. You second-guess what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, why this is happening to you.”
Eventually, yips got the best of Hurst and he changed sports and now is a tight end with the NFL Baltimore Ravens.
The yips don’t have to be the end for you.
If you are aware of how the yips develop and the cycle of the yips, you can learn mental strategies to overcome the yips and improve your game.
How to Triumph Over the Yips:
Tip #1: It is important to realize you CAN triumph over the yips. The yips are mental and not caused by a neuromuscular problem.
Tip #2: If you understand what the yips are and the things that keep you stuck in that cycle, you can demystify the yips and look for viable mental strategies to turn things around.
Tip #3: Most of the time, the yips are caused by fear of failure or fear of embarrassment. You have to get past the worry about making a bad throw, putt, or serve to overcome the yips.
Check out more information on how to overcome the yips cycle in baseball and golf…
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