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Title: Psychological mechanisms that underpin the 'yips' in sport
Author: Bawden, Mark Alastair Kempthorne
ISNI:       0000 0001 3451 7209
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2002
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Recent research has highlighted that the 'yips' in sport represents a continuum on which choking (anxiety related) and dystonia symptoms anchor the extremes (Smith et al., 2000). Previous research investigating the phenomenon has focussed on the 'yips' being a dystonia and has not considered the psychological experience of the problem in detail (McDaniel, Cummings & Shain, 1989; Sachdev, 1992). The primary aim of this thesis was to see if psychological mechanisms underpin the 'yips' experience and if so relate these to the choking model (Baumeister, 1984). The experimental studies established that individuals who have the 'yips' do experience similar underpinning mechanisms to those cited in Baumeister's (1984) model of choking. These factors included increased anxiety responses, increased self-awareness and attempts consciously to process skilled behaviour. However, the personality traits associated with Baumeister's (1984) model were not supported in this thesis. Baumeister's (1984) contention, that low self-conscious individuals would have a greater disposition towards choking, was not supported. Furthermore, the findings indicated that individuals who were dispositionally high in self-consciousness were more prone to performance decrements under pressure and could be more vulnerable to extreme forms of choking such as the 'yips'. The final aim of this thesis attempted to establish a psychological intervention package that could aid performers who experience the 'yips'. Individuals who experience the problem appear to be unable to image successful performances, and subsequently reinforce negative expectations whenever they attempt to focus on performing. Sufferers also attempt consciously to process their skilled behaviour when they experience stress (Masters, 1992), hence subsequent performances tend to be dominated by the analytical left hemisphere of the brain (Crews, 2001). The psychological intervention strategies were implemented to allow individuals to focus on positive performance expectations that could counteract conscious processing and could subsequently increase activity in the right hemisphere of the brain (Crews, 2001). The findings from these studies established that the use of external imagery and holistic trigger words could help counteract the negative effects of conscious processing and ensure a positive approach to performance. The findings within this thesis can be seen as an initial step towards an understanding of psychological components of the 'yips' experience. Future research should investigate the efficacy of psychological intervention strategies in a number of sports, and test these techniques in ecologically valid competitive conditions. Future research could also usefully examine the aetiology of the 'yips' and establish the relationship between dispositional self-consciousness and the development of the 'yips' in sport.
Supervisor: Maynard, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Choking