The Yips: Methods to Identify Golfers with a Dystonic Etiology/Golfer's Cramp

Charles H Adler, M'hamed Temkit, Debra Crews, Troy McDaniel, Jennifer Tucker, Joseph G Hentz, Christian Marquardt, Dale Abraham, John N Caviness
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2018 June 8

PURPOSE: To determine whether quantitative methods could separate golfers with a possible dystonic cause of the "yips" from those that appear to be non-dystonic.

METHODS: 27 golfers completed 10 two-handed and 10 right hand only putts. Surface EMG assessed forearm muscle co-contraction and motion detectors monitored wrist and putter movements. Based on videotape review, golfers were grouped into those with yips of dystonic etiology, those with the yips non-dystonic, and those with no yips.

RESULTS: On video review of two-handed putting, five golfers had yips that appeared to be dystonic, nine had yips that did not appear to be dystonic, and 13 had no yips. During two-handed putting co-occurrence of a yipped putt and wrist flexor/extensor and/or pronator/supinator co-contraction was significantly more frequent in those with dystonic yips. The dystonic group had no increase in the number of yipped putts or yips with co-contraction when putting right hand only, while the non-dystonic group had significantly more yipped putts and more yipped putts with co-contraction with right hand only.

CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative methods were identified that appear to identify golfers with a dystonic etiology for the yips. It is not just the frequency of yips nor just specific motion patterns alone, rather it is also a combination of yips with co-occurring co-contraction when putting with two hands, and then right hand only, that distinguished this possible etiology. Despite being a small study, identifying a dystonic pattern, even in a non-pressure indoor setting, may aid in assessment and possible monitoring of treatment.

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