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How to cure the Yips - The Baseball Throwing Problem

How to cure the Yips, the baseball throwing problem

Everyone has gone through a bout of the Yips in their baseball career and if you haven’t, trust me, you will! Some Yips just last longer than others.

There was a guy on one of my teams who had the Yips for about a week straight and couldn’t throw the baseball for anything. He was a pitcher and would throw the baseball 10 feet in front of the catcher or 10 feet over his head. The Yips affected his throwing so much that he quit baseball (and he was on a college scholarship).

Not all cases of the Yips are so severe. My case of the Yips only lasted a few days and wasn’t quite as bad as my teammate’s. However, it did affect me greatly because we had an important series coming up that week and the more I thought about it, it seemed the worse my throwing problem, the yips, became.

The Yips throwing problem does not only affect older baseball players, in fact, there have been cases of the Yips from little league all the way to the Major Leagues. Some of the greatest pitchers ever have been through a case of the Yips and still went on to pitch in the Major Leagues.

So, don’t feel like it’s the end of the world if you yourself are going through the Yips and having trouble throwing the baseball. The Yips are tricky to cure because they are not something you can just talk yourself out of. Meaning, you can just be positive and say to yourself “ok, everything is going to be ok. Get extended, release out in front, and throw the baseball like you’ve done a million times”. That’s not going to work.

Nor is going through some throwing drills. In fact, some players with the Yips get so crazy over the Yips, they spend hours doing drills and throwing mechanics and the Yips actually get worse.

So, what are you supposed to do to cure the Yips? Well, that’s a tough question. Ever see Major League II with the catcher who thinks about the Victoria Secret lingerie ads? That is one way to try to work around the Yips.

Instead of thinking directly about the throwing problem in a positive manner, the Indians catcher thinks of something totally different which clears his mind completely from the act of throwing the baseball. It’s also kind of like Billy Chapel in For Love of the Game. “Clear the mechanism”, he would say as everything around him gets quite. That’s kind of cheesy and very hard to do, but I think if you can get into this state of thinking, or at least thinking about something else (totally), then you’re emotions won’t get in the way of you throwing the baseball.

This may not work all the time however. Most guys have the Yips so bad that they feel tightness in their chest, arm, and even can’t control their breathing. Simply thinking of something else is going to be very hard for someone with a severe case of the Yips.

In such severe cases as this, you should add an “MCP load” to your throwing mechanics. An MCP load, or mentally clearing physical load, is exactly as it sound: a physical load that will clear you from mental overload. Start off by patting the ball in your glove as your leg comes up before you throw. Think about it as you are doing it and think of nothing else besides pat, pat, pat.

The downfall to this approach is that you are sacrificing some of your mechanics to clear your mental state, however it does work better with the severe cases of the Yips. Try it for a little bit and once you are starting to get away from the Yips, try to get back to your normal throwing mechanics.

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