Psychodiagnostics: Classification of the Yips Phenomenon based on Musician's Dystonia

Christos I Ioannou, Martin K Klämpfl, Babett H Lobinger, Markus Raab, Eckart Altenmüller
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2018, 50 (11): 2217-2225

PURPOSE: Similar to musician's focal dystonia, a task-specific phenomenon known as yips, has also been reported in professional athletes. Yips is usually described as focal dystonia, or choking under pressure, or as lying on a continuum between both. Based on the common occupational conditions across musicians and athletes, the present exploratory study aimed to investigate whether musicians diagnosed with focal dystonia and golfers affected with yips, can be similarly subclassified based on their psychological profiles.

METHODS: Twenty healthy musicians, 20 musicians with focal dystonia, 20 healthy golfers, and 20 yips-affected golfers went through a test battery including three psycho-diagnostic standardized questionnaires (the Competitive Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Frost's Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, and the Stress Coping Questionnaire), measuring trait cognitive and somatic anxiety, perfectionistic tendencies and different stress coping strategies.

RESULTS: Findings based on a clustering procedure suggest that similar to musician's dystonia, yips-affected golfers can be classified into those with and those without specific elevated perfectionistic, stress and anxiety traits. The roles of these different psychological profiles as possible triggering factors of the yips are discussed and compared with those of musician's dystonia.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study suggests that the yips phenomenon might cover a broader range of different subtypes of movement disturbances than those already suggested in the literature. Finally, a theoretical model, which explains the role of the different triggering factors in the discrimination of the different subtypes, is suggested. A better classification and understanding of the different subtypes of yips could lead to a more accurate diagnosis and to the design of more individualized treatment intervention.

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