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THE Y#PS: Superimposing the Past Over the Present


Yes, all caps for this topic. 

Anyone who has played sports has heard this dreaded word. As a golfer, y#ps and sh#nks are words I try to avoid even thinking about. 

In baseball, some of the best-known examples are Jon Lester (an MLB pitcher who struggled to throw to first but was fine to home), Mackey Sasser (a catcher who had trouble throwing the ball back to the pitcher), and Steve Sax (who went from a rookie of the year to not being able to make a throw to first). 

Unfortunately, there are many examples of baseball players who “caught” the y#ps.

At The ReThink Group, we are always looking for the mental/emotional component of performance challenges, approaching the mental game from a different direction than most “traditional” coaches. 

First, to get some context we need to understand the feeling context that was triggered after the first occurrence that kicked off the y#ps. 

Issues like these happen when something from the past gets superimposed over the present. 

The first time the ball is thrown away, it can trigger feelings of anger, shame, frustration, embarrassment, panic, and disbelief. In addition, at a deeper level, there may be feelings of inadequacy or abandonment connected to events from childhood. 

These fractal, recurring feelings, which are largely unconscious, begin to take over the next time the ball is hit. “If I don’t make this play dad, the coach won’t love and/or respect me.” Herein lies a huge part of the problem! 

A problem rooted in the mental/emotional side is extremely difficult to solve through a purely physical lens. It really takes going back and understanding the feelings that occurred at the moment of the initial error. Then, we can examine what thoughts/feelings accompany the subsequent issues –which opens the door to understanding as well as the opportunity to change the feelings and outcome.

This process reminds me of the idea that it takes an equal and opposite force to stop an object. 

So too with the y#ps, it takes an equal and opposite emotional experience to overcome them. 

In other words, when intense feelings from the past are associated with something that is seemingly easy to do, the past feelings can take over the present moment and create a short circuit in the physical skill. 

If we can understand what the intense historical feeling is we can start to untangle the feelings and therefore put the past in the past and open up misfire in the physical skill. 

The lack of knowledge or acceptance of this idea is why we rarely see players recover.

In the next blog, we will take a deeper dive into the mechanics of the Y#PS by focusing on the case of Steve Sax.

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