Almost every golfer has experienced it. You're lined up on the green for that perfect putt, when an easy tap-in shot is foiled by a mysterious twitch. Golfers refer to it as "the yips." And researchers at Mayo Clinic believe they've found a neurological cause to explain some instances.
Jason Howland has more in this Mayo Clinic Minute.
Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:00) is in the downloads. Read the script.
Drive for show. Putt for dough. But when lining up that winning shot, it can be a golfer's greatest fear: a sudden case of the yips.
"The yips is a description given by people who golf of a twitch, or a jerk or involuntary movement when usually putting," says Dr. Charles Adler, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.
In many cases, the yips is thought to be psychological. A golfer under pressure experiencing performance anxiety is usually par for the course. But there are others that likely have a neurologic problem.
"We call it 'dystonia' or 'tremor.' It's an involuntary movement disorder," says Dr. Adler. "So only when performing a golf movement, such as moving the putter, does the involuntary movement come out."
Dr. Adler is teeing up the topic as lead author of a Mayo Clinic study on the yips, which could offer athletes improved treatment options.
"It's our belief that treatment is going to be different for people who have a neurologic cause and a nonneurologic cause."
Dr. Adler says more research is needed with the hope of finding specific treatment options to overcome the yips. And that would be a hole in one for every golfer on the green.