Reinvestment—the cause of the yips?

Martin Karl Klämpfl, Babett Helen Lobinger, Markus Raab
PloS One 2013, 8 (12): e82470
The yips is a multi-etiological phenomenon consisting of involuntary movements during the execution of a skill (e.g., a golf putt). Reinvestment, the conscious control of a movement that detrimentally affects automated movements, is thought to be a potential mechanism leading to the yips. Preventing yips-affected golfers from consciously controlling their movement, therefore, should be beneficial. The aim of the study was to be the first to empirically test in a laboratory whether reinvestment causes the yips and to explore if the tendency to reinvest can explain yips behavior. Nineteen yips-affected golfers participated in a lab experiment. They putted with the dominant arm in a skill-focus and an extraneous condition, in which they had to perform different dual tasks designed either to direct their focus on their own skill or to distract them from it. The tendency to reinvest was estimated via the Movement-Specific Reinvestment Scale. Yips behavior was assessed by putting performance and movement variability. Although the dual-task performance showed that the attentional manipulation worked, the tendency to reinvest did not predict the behavior of the yips-affected golfers in either putting condition. The yips-affected golfers also showed no difference in yips behavior between the skill-focus and the extraneous condition. In other words, the attentional manipulation did not change yips behavior. The data do not support the assumption that there is a link between the yips and reinvestment, likely because of the multi-etiological nature of the yips. Other psychological or neurological mechanisms such as conditioned reactions may better explain the yips and should be investigated.

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