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"Crushing the Yips: Strategies for Overcoming Mental Barriers in Sports"




It's the stuff of nightmares for any athlete: the sudden, inexplicable loss of skill that turns a once-promising career into a struggle. Just ask Rick Ankiel, the St. Louis Cardinals prodigy who went from pitching an entire season as a 20-year-old rookie to tossing 20 wild pitches in a single inning during the postseason. His pitching career? Over. The culprit? The Yips.


The Yips: The Silent Killer of Athletic Dreams

The Yips have claimed countless careers in baseball and other sports, striking fear into the hearts of players and coaches alike. But what exactly are the Yips? It's not a physical ailment—it's a brain problem, a mental block that can cripple even the most seasoned athletes. And once it sets in, it's like a relentless foe that refuses to retreat.


The Coach Conundrum: Navigating the Maze of Advice

Coaches mean well, but let's face it: most of them aren't equipped to tackle the Yips head-on. "Just throw the ball," they say. "Get out of your head." But it's not that simple. The Yips have been around as long as sports, first surfacing in golf before infiltrating other disciplines. It's not about willpower or toughness—it's about rewiring your brain to overcome the mental barriers holding you back.


The Science Behind the Yips: Understanding the Enemy

Recent studies shed light on the inner workings of the Yips, revealing it as a complex interplay of psychology and physiology. Novices and experts alike grapple with the Yips, their minds overwhelmed by irrelevant stimuli that sabotage their performance. The key to overcoming it lies not in brute force or sheer willpower but in understanding how to filter out the noise and focus on what truly matters.


Mastering the Mental Game: Strategies for Success

So, how do you beat the Yips? It starts with mastering the mental game. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes or obsessing over perfection, focus on the present moment. Develop a routine that grounds you in the here and now, whether taking a deep breath before each pitch or visualizing success in vivid detail. Trust in your preparation, and let go of the fear of failure. Remember, it's not about throwing a perfect pitch every time—it's about having the confidence to bounce back from setbacks and keep pushing forward.




Steve Sax, Dodgers. celebrating success
Steve Sax crushed the Yips! 5x All-Star

The Road to Redemption: Finding Hope in the Darkness

Overcoming the Yips is no easy feat, but it's not impossible. Research reveals that players who triumph over the Yips not only reclaim their skills but also emerge as formidable forces on the field. Take, for instance, Dodger second baseman Steve Sax, whose career teetered on the brink after making a staggering 30 errors in a single season due to the Yips. Yet, Sax refused to let adversity define him, bouncing back to achieve the remarkable feat of becoming a five-time All-Star. His story serves as a beacon of hope for athletes facing similar challenges, demonstrating that with resilience and determination, anything is possible.


By embracing self-understanding, setting independent goals, and reaffirming your love for the game, you can defy the odds and rewrite your destiny. So, if you find yourself battling the Yips, remember: you're not alone, and your story isn't over yet. With perseverance and determination, you can reclaim your place on the field and show the world what you're truly capable of.


While some believe there's no remedy for "the Yips," I beg to differ. Through my experience and observation, I've discovered that crafting a tailored mental and physical routine can effectively banish the Yips, whether you're a little league hopeful or a seasoned big league star.


For a FREE consultation, feel free to call or text Ken Baum, author of this article and the book “The Mental Edge.” 949-412-2758

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