Avoiding the Yips
Anyone who has been faced with a difficult putt (and what golfer hasn't) is all-too familiar with the yips. These are the tremors or jerking movements that strike when you're trying to make a putt.
Given golf's enormous popularity, it's no surprise that a team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic deemed the problem of the yips serious enough to devote valuable research time and dollars to it. More than 1,000 tournament players responded to questionnaires, and these are their findings:
Nearly 50 percent of frequent golfers are affected by the yips.
The yips add about 4.7 strokes to an 18-hole course score.
Fast, downhill and left-to-right breaking putts are most likely to cause symptoms, which suggests the yips may be brought on by certain postures.
Golfers who get the yips while putting have higher heart rates and greater muscle activity in the arms and hands than those who don’t.
Pressure appears to be a significant factor, with the yips occurring more frequently during highly competitive play or while trying to make a tricky putt.
Still, researchers are not convinced that anxiety and stress are the sole cause of the yips.
Dr. Aynsley M. Smith, who headed the Mayo Clinic study, suggests that holding certain postures, particularly abnormal ones, may cause physical problems that are exacerbated by stress.
The same effect is seen among musicians and dentists and other people whose profession requires them to routinely hold the same postures for extended periods of time.
Source: Sports Medicine, 2000; 30, 423-437
This appeared in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE's official magazine.
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