Kick the Yips

Eileen Linnehan, a standout pitcher at Northwestern University, awoke one day to find that she couldn’t complete a successful overhand throw to first base. She had the yips, or the inability to perform a previously learned movement because of a mental inhibitor. Linnehan finally found a workaround. After that, she mentored female athletes and was later inducted into the Northwestern Sports Hall of Fame for having saved many careers in women’s baseball.

We’ve had clients come to us after speaking for years, then yipping by being unable to find the right word, lose their momentum, or blanking out. The precise cause or solution is debatable, but we think it’s doubt resurfacing. Doubt can return under stress, or for no rational reason.

Our solution is to revisit technique and change it up. To a pianist, we’d say, “Return to playing scales. Then do jazz riffs.” The same goes for speakers. When nothing is on the line, develop a fifteen-minute talk, with a creative opening, three buckets or talking points, and powerful close. Be creative. Cut and paste your content. Change up the opening. And test out different closings. Have fun with both structuring and delivering your content. To rid yourself of the fear inhibitor, embrace the joy of speaking to others, and know you are imparting your wisdom to audiences that welcome it. Loosen up and kick the yips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *