The yips may result from neurological factors, psychological factors or a combination of both.

Neurological factors

In some people, the yips are a type of focal dystonia, a condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions during a specific task. It's most likely related to overuse of a certain set of muscles, similar to writer's cramp. Anxiety worsens the effect.

Psychological factors

In a pressure situation, some athletes become so anxious and self-focused — over-thinking to the point of distraction — that their ability to execute a skill, like putting, is impaired. Choking is an extreme form of performance anxiety that may compromise a golfer's game.

A combination of factors

For some people who have a mild degree of focal dystonia, stress, anxiety or high-pressure situations can worsen the condition.

May. 03, 2011