: a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (such as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action
Did You Know?
Who first dubbed an athlete's stress under pressure "the yips"? We're not sure. We also can't say for certain if the plural noun yips has anything to do with yip, a word of imitative origin that functions both as a verb meaning "to bark sharply, quickly, and often continuously" and as a noun meaning "a short bark (as of a dog)." Some theories equate the "yip" sound made by a small dog with the unfortunate habit some athletes have of flinching or "hiccupping" when a steady hand is called for. What we do know for certain is that sportswriters have been using yips since the first half of the 20th century and that it most often appears in golf-related contexts.
"Golfers with the yips typically jerk the putter on short putts, occasionally knocking a five-foot putt ten feet past the cup." — Mike Towle, I Remember Ben Hogan, 2000
"In 'The Phenomenon' …, written with Tim Brown, [Rick] Ankiel speaks of succumbing to the anxiety disorder commonly called the yips, then reclaiming his career as an outfielder." — Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times, 2 Apr. 2017
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
What is the word for one of the little indentations on a golf ball?VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP