When Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher struggled in a playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 16, 2023, missing four extra-point attempts and setting a new NFL record in the process, it was hard not to think about one thing. Was.
Was Maher suffering from a case of the yips?
The term is often used to describe an athlete who suddenly cannot execute plays that used to be routine. think golfer who can’t sink a two foot putt, or the baseball catcher who can’t toss ball back to pitcher,
In many instances, athletes are able to get back on track — if not immediately, then over time. But in extreme cases, the entire career is ruined. An often cited example: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steve BlassA star player who lost his throwing rhythm during the 1973 season and never regained it.
Other famous athletes who have suffered from the yips include baseball players Steve Sachs and Rick Ankiel, golfer Ernie Els, and gymnast Simone Biles (though in the case of gymnastics, the condition is often referred to as twisty).
In its most basic form, the yips is “a type of inhibition of performance … like a part of the body is acting almost like a frozen weight,” said Dr. Nick Molinaro, a licensed clinical Psychologists who have created something special to work with athletes are troubled by this problem.
Like other experts MarketWatch spoke to for this story, Molinaro couldn’t say for sure whether Maher was experiencing the yips. Still, Cowboys special-teams coordinator John Fussell said the yips were Definitely at work in memory of Maher,
In many cases, frowning is seen as a psychological problem. Specifically, the athlete may have some sort of performance issue, but in trying to correct it, he may become stressed in a way that exacerbates it, Molinaro explained.
In other cases, there is more of a direct medical problem—namely, a neurological disorder known as focal dystonia, which causes “involuntary muscle contractions in one part of the body.” to the Cleveland Clinic,
Either way, there are still a lot of misconceptions about the yips, experts note.
Dr. Steven J., a neurologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City. Frucht points to the fact that it is not a problem for athletes to have the yips. Musicians can also suffer from it, he said Late pianist Leon Fleischer For example. (He spent part of his career performing with only his left hand.)
David Grand, a psychotherapist who has worked with athletes who experience the yips, also said it’s a mistake to think of the problem as an overnight sort of thing.
Instead, “it’s a broad spectrum of experiences,” Grand said. They suggest that an athlete who is experiencing a slump but is still able to play with some degree of ability may be suffering from a form of the yips. “It’s a slow version,” he said.
The good news is that treatment options now abound for this issue, with practitioners in a variety of fields saying they’ve had success with a variety of solutions. Frucht said he often treats focal dystonia with injections of Botox or equivalent drugs, although he added that it requires a degree of skill “to know exactly where you’re putting the toxin.”
Molinaro states that he has used hypnosis as an effective psychological treatment. And Grand said he uses a therapeutic technique he has developed known as brainspotting, which ties in with his belief that having the yips is related to childhood psychological trauma.
It remains to be seen whether Cowboys kicker Maher will continue to struggle on the field with whatever problem he experiences in Monday’s playoff game. The good news, at least for now, is that the team looks to give him another chance in their next playoff game, when they play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
“We’ve got confidence in him,” Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott said In an interview with Yahoo! Play.
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