The starting point of the study

The common wisdom of how the yips come about tells us that there are two types of yip

Which are imaginatively called Type I and Type II

Type I is considered to be “the impaired movement initiation and execution” of a fine motor skill

Which in basic terms means that for yips golfers

One of the golfers hands (generally not both interestingly enough)

Doesn’t do what it should as the golfer is about the contact the ball

The golfer is simply not in control of what it does

As a result the ball doesn’t go where the golfer wants it too

Having spent a few years researching the yips already

I’m going to go out on a limb right now at the start of this study

And suggest that Type I is what all yips golfers actually have going on

(You’ll see why I say that as you read a little further on)

Mainly because in my experience only some golfers

Show signs of Type II yips

Type II is related to what’s called performance anxiety which can just as easily labelled ‘stage fright’

This manifests itself in two common ways

Firstly the golfer takes an inordinately long period of time over the ball prior to hitting their shot

Mainly due to the massive amount of ‘stuff’ swirling around their brain at that point

Then secondly, when they are finally able to ‘pull the trigger’ and hit the shot

It’s most likely that the resulting shot will be nothing like what they were intending

Which gives them a shot that is exactly the same as a Type I yips golfer

But I’m not exactly convinced that it is caused by the same thing

One of the most fundamental unanswered questions about the yips

Is which comes first?

Does the physical result of a single Type I shot provide the beginnings on an infinite loop of Type II?

Or does a missed putt at a single critical point in time trigger Type II and as a result over time affect the golfers brain so much that Type I becomes common place?

It’s the classic ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ situation

It’s one of the main goals of this study to find this out

The common wisdom that gave us those two types

Will also go on to generalize that in the main

Its good golfers – top amateurs and golf pros – that have played for a fairly long time that suffer from Type I

Simply due to the millions upon millions of shots they will have hit over their careers

Whereas Type II sufferers will be more likely to be older and have been not so proficient at the game of golf over the years

While I can see some logic in these generalizations

They still don’t explain why some golf pros for example can play for 40 years or more on tour

And never have a single yip

Whereas I have seen other golfers who are fairly average at golf but not old (late 20’s to early 30’s)

Who darn near yip every putt and chip they hit

It certainly doesn’t explain why sufferers are almost always male golfers

Either way the first thing that a yips golfer needs to avoid if they start getting the yips

Is that first reaction that we all have as golfers

To head out to the course

After that little ‘break that we all have’

And attempt to ‘fix the yips’ by practice

Why you ask?

If my assumption at this point (May 2013) is true and all golfers actually have Type I yips

Then we can learn a lot about that from other human activities that suffer the same problems

The most common of which are musicians, writers and surgeons

I was initially surprised when I found that out

But when I considered the similarities – it made sense

Let’s look at musicians for example

Musicians generally take many years of practice and play to get proficient

Most use both hands while playing but have different pressures or movements with each

They are repeating the same small hand movements many thousands of times

All of which have very little variation in pattern (this is important as you will see later)

Most are striving for perfection or at least a high level of consistency

Getting the idea yet?

You can easily substitute writers and surgeons with very little change

It certainly helped me make a lot of connections

Upon finding out about musicians I discovered that there is an actual medical term that fits the yips

Focal Dystonia

Here are some bits of what Wikipedia has to say about it;

“The cause of dystonia is not yet precisely understood

Misfiring of neurons in the sensorimotor cortex, a thin layer of neural tissue covering the brain, is thought to cause contractions

The source of this misfiring may be a result of impaired inhibitory mechanisms during muscle contraction

When the brain tells a given muscle to contract, it simultaneously silences muscles that would oppose the intended movement

In dystonia, it appears that the ability of the brain to inhibit the surrounding muscles is impaired leading to loss of selectivity”

This helps to explain what I said earlier;

‘One of the golfers hands (generally not both) doesn’t do what it should as the golfer is about the contact the ball

The golfer is simply not in control of what it does’

The Wikipedia article goes on to explain a little more;

“…………………the sensorimotor cortex is organized as discrete “maps” of the human body

Under normal conditions, each body part (such as individual fingers) occupies a distinct area on these cortical maps

In dystonia, these maps lose their distinct borders and overlap occurs”

That can go some way to explaining why the yips is more prevalent in both highly experienced and skilled musicians as well as golfers

Years of practicing the same putts or chip shots repeatedly could possibly result in

The brain getting to the point where it simply is unable to distinguish how to perform the required movement anymore

As a result one hand does what it should while the other does something completely different than is expected

A possible avenue of exploration to prove that is that the sensorimotor cortex

Being a thin layer of neural tissue may simply not have enough capacity to store all those different shots separately

So one day it just starts overlapping them and the yips arrive

It certainly goes some way towards explaining why heading off ‘to fix the yips’ by practicing

Generally results in making them worse

All the golfer is actually doing is confusing the brain even more

By laying down more and more shots

Which makes the overlap bigger

Here’s a final bit from the Wikipedia article;

“Focal dystonia most typically affects those who rely on fine motor skills (musicians, writers, surgeons) and it is thought that the excessive motor training in these individuals may contribute to the development of dystonia as their cortical maps become enlarged and begin to overlap

Focal dystonia is generally “task specific,” meaning that it is only problematic during certain activities”

So it may be a possibility that the yips is actually caused by practicing

I certainly spent many hours over the years hitting chip shot after chip shot

None of which had any particular purpose or target

That could be a clue right there!

It could go some way toward explaining how I ended up with the chipping yips

You can read my story here if you haven’t already

So if the yips are caused by the excessive motor training

Is that our answer?

Unfortunately not

It’s not a simple as that

Nutritionists for example would argue

That low blood sugar from an improper diet causes nervousness

Which in turn leads to yips

Most golf teachers will tell you

That it’s your technique

And that you should go practice

That’s why this is just the starting point of the study

Because there are many valid points of view out there about the subject

But no one really has all the answers yet

So if you haven’t already

Join me by doing the yips study that is applicable to you

Putting Yip Study

Driver Yip Study

Chipping Yip Study

Other Yip Study

And sharing your story if you feel compelled to

As well as forwarding this to as many golfers as you know

So that they can too

I thank you in advance

Together we can beat this thing