Towards a psychological understanding of the yips across and within sport.

ROTHERAM, Michael J.P. (2007). Towards a psychological understanding of the yips across and within sport. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Recent research examining the 'yips' has focused a great deal on the mechanisms underpinning the experience in golf (McDaniel, Shain & Cummings, 1989). The research has generally shown that the 'yips' are a performance problem which lie on a continuum where choking (anxiety related) and dystonia symptoms anchor the extremes. The primary aim of this thesis was to examine the 'yips' problem across a range of sports skills, assessing the physical and psychological symptoms experienced, and the potential underlying mechanisms. A further aim, was to assess whether the 'yips' were the same problem independent of sport-type, or something entirely different. Study 1 examined the 'yips' from a broad perspective, using a mixed methods survey approach (Teddlie & Tashakorri, 2003). The study illustrated that the predominant sport skills affected by the 'yips' are golf putting, the darts throw and the cricket bowling action. The findings suggested that the 'yips' result in physical disruptions which occur during skill execution. Furthermore, the study indicated that, across sports, similar psychological symptoms emerged. Study 2 used a Grounded Theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) based approach to guide sampling, data collection and analysis. Individuals, independent of their sport, displayed perfectionist, obsessional and self conscious characteristics. In addition, all of the participants had experienced a significant life event at or around the time the 'yips' started. Recent movement disorder research had reported similar findings which may suggest that similar causal factors operate for focal dystonia and the 'yips' (Schweinfurth et al., 2002). Once individuals had experienced the initial 'yip', it appeared that participants would try and 'reinvest' in the knowledge base, and that they would obsessionally think about what had happened. It was suggested that individuals may convert the psychological pain experienced during that event into physical symptoms through a process of conversion (Baker & Humblestone, 2005), thus resulting in the 'yip'. Research has illustrated that damage to the basal ganglia has resulted in a wide range of dysfunctions in both emotions and motor behaviour (Lim et al., 2001). Future research should look to examine the impact of the significant life event has on the function of the basal ganglia. Study 3 used a quantitative approach, to assess whether individuals with the 'yips' displayed higher levels of perfectionism, obsessional thinking and reinvestment, than a matched control. The research suggests that those who experience the 'yips' have elevated levels of maladaptive perfectionism, obsessional thinking and self-consciousness compared with controls. These findings support research examining focal dystonia (Jabusch & Altenumuller, 2004) and the 'yips' (McDaniel et al., 1989). The final aim of the thesis attempted to establish a psychological intervention strategy that could aid performers who experience the 'yips'. The research used a novel form of intervention in the form of the Emotional Freedom Technique (Craig, 1995). The aim was to test whether the intervention was successful rather than the underpinning mechanisms of the process. The intervention was aimed at the events which occurred prior to the 'yips' to assess whether physical symptoms subsided, and performance returned to normality. In the two case studies illustrated, the intervention appeared to have success at 4 weeks and 6 months postintervention, therefore adding tentative support that the 'yips' may be caused by psychologically significant life events. It would appear that the 'yips' are a psychogenic movement disorder. Future research should look to understand the relationship between perfectionism, obsessional thinking, self-consciousness, life events and the development of the 'yips'. Furthermore, research should combine multi-disciplinary knowledge to explore the 'yips' to gain a more holistic understanding of the problem from a psychological and neurological perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2007.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:23
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2018 13:20
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20800

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