Why Do Top Athletes Suddenly Develop “the Yips” - a Tendency to Choke under Pressure?

Posted on May 21, 2013

A single short putt is necessary to win the tournament, but suddenly the golfer's hands cramp up, and the putt goes wide. According to several studies, as many as 48 percent of serious golfers have experienced such motor skill failures, known as the yips. It is most often used to describe golf-related errors, although the yips can strike athletes in any sport.

Overthinking appears to heighten the yips. Psychologist Debbie Crews found that golfers who performed poorly when putting under pressure also exhibited heightened activity in the left hemisphere of the brain, typically responsible for analytical thinking, and diminished activity in the right hemisphere, associated with coordination and visual ability. Thus, concentrating too intently appears to overshadow other important factors, such as balance and timing. Crews concluded that maintaining a balanced brain, in which both hemispheres are working at similar intensities, is ideal.

Category(s):Sports Psychology

Source material from Scientific American