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Mind Games, Ep. 3: “The Yips”

Episode three examines 'the yips,' arguably the most mysterious mental phenomenon in sports. Why do 'the yips' occur, how common are they, and what can be done to treat them? (Northern Review illustration/ Grant Pepper)

This spring, Northern Review sports editor Grant Pepper spoke with sport psychologists and Ohio Northern athletes to try to explain some of the most unexplainable phenomena in sports. This podcast series, ‘Mind Games,’ takes a deep dive into the mental side of athletics -- because in reality, in almost every sport, most of the game is played above the shoulders.

This episode explores a mental phenomenon that haunts athletes at every level, and can sometimes be career-ending: the yips. The yips are the manifestation of built-up anxiety and stress over time that prevents athletes from performing the simplest of tasks within their sport. It renders baseball players unable to make short throws, kickers unable to convert on chip-ins, and golfers unable to putt.

The yips are extremely difficult to overcome, although one Ohio Northern golfer has done so during his college career. Zack Goodchild, who recently completed his senior season, dealt with the yips during his freshman year. It made him want to quit the game at one point, but he saw a sport psychologist and slowly overcame it.

This podcast discusses how Goodchild, sport psychologist Dr. Steve Graef (Ohio State University) and sport psychology professor Dr. Jean-Charles Lebeau (Ball State University) not only define ‘the yips,’ but also how they believe athletes can overcome them.

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