Yips are involuntary wrist spasms that occur most commonly when golfers are trying to putt. However, the yips can also affect people who play other sports — such as cricket, darts and baseball.
It was once thought that the yips were always associated with performance anxiety. However, it now appears that some people have yips that are caused by a focal dystonia, which is a neurological dysfunction affecting specific muscles.
Most specialists will diagnose the yips based on your self-reported signs and symptoms. To determine whether your yips are related to focal dystonia or choking, the specialist may ask you some detailed questions about how and when your symptoms occur. You also may be asked to demonstrate your putting stroke so that the specialist can observe your symptoms directly. However, since the yips is episodic and occurs most often under tournament conditions, it may not be possible to demonstrate your symptoms on command. A more detailed evaluation also may include a swing analysis, where the biomechanics of your swing or putting stroke are recorded and evaluated.
The yips is considered a task-specific movement disorder. Its estimated prevalence, however, is high compared to similar neurological movement disorders, possibly resulting from previous studies’ restriction of samples based on skill level, and self-report bias. Alternatively, this high prevalence might be an indication of additional aetiologies, for example the influence of previously played racket sports.