• Focal Dystonia: The Root Causes Underpinning the Yips

      Gibson, Eve (Temple University. Grey Matters, 2021-12)
      Cases of the yips have popped up from time to time in all different sports from MLB pitchers suddenly not being able to find the strike zone to professional golfers missing very short putts. A theory proposed by researchers to explain the yips is a motor dysfunction known as focal dystonia [2]. Dystonia describes a wide variety of movement disorders which are defined by intermittent or constant muscle contractions that create irregular and repeated movements [3]. It is worth noting that the yips affect not only gymnasts and golfers, but also a wide variety of skilled professionals, as the yips target fine motor skills and muscle memory [4]. The name of the phenomenon and the affected body regions vary depending on the area of expertise of the individual affected by this dystonia. Amongst golfers it is known as the yips, for professional gymnasts it is the twisties, and professional musicians call it musician’s dystonia [5]. What happens when the mind gets in the way of the body? Severe performance anxiety may be a catalyst for the yips. Psychological stress manifesting in muscular defects makes finding a treatment plan difficult and case specific. If the yips is not purely psychological, but is a motor control disorder, then how does a healthcare professional go about treating the symptoms?