Golfers "yips" possibly a movement disorder

Researchers have found that a not uncommon condition among some golfers, Yips, a term used to denote a strong tendency to flinch or twitch during putting, may be a task-specific movement disorder akin to writer's cramp and musician's cramp.

Researchers have found that a not uncommon condition among some golfers, Yips, a term used to denote a strong tendency to flinch or twitch during putting, may be a task-specific movement disorder akin to writer

The researchers examined 20 male golfers, 10 with yips and 10 without. All were evaluated in the laboratory using surface electromyography (EMG) testing to determine muscle activity. They were tested while sitting at rest, arms outstretched, and during handwriting; standing at rest, holding a putter at rest, and using their own putter to putt a total of 75 putts, varying from three, six, and eight feet. The golfers then rated the quality of their strokes, noting the number of putts made and the distance from the hole for missed putts.

Study co-author Charles H. Adler, M.D., Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic in Arizona, says none of the golfers had any abnormal movements in the rest position, outstretched arms position, or while writing or standing holding the putter.Two of the golfers felt they had their yips in the lab, under all putting conditions, 50 percent of the golfers with yips had EMG evidence of co-contractions of muscles in the forearm just prior to the impact of the putter with the ball. The co-contractions were similar to those of task-specific movement disorders. None of the golfers without yips had evidence co-contraction.

The study revealed that the five golfers with yips who had co-contractions were older, had higher current and best previous handicaps, and had yips for fewer years than the other five with yips who did not have the co-contractions. There was also a trend for those five golfers with yips to make fewer putts and have a greater degree of error in missing the putts.

The study was funded by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Research and Education.


Bernhard Langer a yips battler had to change his grip on the putter numerous times in an attempt to cure this problem; while he has been mostly successful, this tendency has colored his career. Langer is remembered nearly as much for one particular missed putt as he is for his titles. In the 1991 Ryder Cup, Langer missed a five-foot putt that would have tied the Ryder Cup and allowed the European team to retain the trophy.

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