Remember Olympic athlete Simone Biles, who withdrew from the Olympics because she got “the twisties”? This is like the yips, which are a psychological phenomenon that causes a sudden loss of highly developed skills like inexperienced athletes. In baseball, the yips are a sudden physical inability to throw accurately. Steve Sax, former second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, is probably the most famous example. In basketball, it’s a player that can’t make a free throw in a game.
Even in business, many of us get the yips. It’s when anxiety grips you so hard it freezes you. You know how to do it and you practiced it over and over, but when the time comes, you can’t do it. Think of a business owner who freezes when they must talk in front of a group or have a difficult conversation with someone.
On The Small Business Radio Show this week, Eileen Canney Linnehan got the yips. She was a star pitcher at Northwestern University who suddenly could not throw to first base. She could fire pinpoint, unhittable pitches, including an appearance in the N.C.A.A. Division I final. Eileen was named to the Northwestern Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and coached at the University of Illinois Chicago. But in four years, she never made a single successful overhand throw to a base. She also had to withstand teams bunting to exploit her weakness and fans in the stands mocking her. Now she helps young athletes get through the debilitating issue.
Here are the questions I asked:
- What are the yips?
- Why do we all get it?
- How did you deal with it and what are the best work arounds?
- How do you teach others to deal with it?
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Image: Eileen Canney