The Yips, Crashes, Trauma in Sport: There is Hope for Athletes

Sports Psychology Tips: The Yips, High Speed Crashes and Trauma in Sport. There is Hope for Athletes

Alessia Bruno is a Clinical and Sports Psychologist, Mental and Performance Trainer specialising in Brainspotting and EMDR. She lectures at National Sport congresses and holds courses accredited by the Ministry of Health.  She helps athletes and performing artists to overcome blocks, choking, slumps, yips, trauma and works with expansion to take people and their potential beyond to where it was before the issue.

Alessia Bruno
Clinical and Sports Psychologist - Alessia Bruno

In this fascinating episode Alessia and David talk about what confidence is, what it feels like to be confident and things that impact on an athlete’s confidence.  We then look at The Yips, Motor Cycle accidents, traumatic events and fear responses in the brain leaving athletes who have experienced these difficulties with an uplifting message of hope.  That’s right you as an athlete can overcome these challenges with the right support and then take your performances to a new level.  

Essential Learning Points From This Episode

  • The performance and personal history of an athlete is important to consider when assessing the confidence level of an athlete.
  • External factors can affect confidence such as an athlete’s upbringing, critical or perfectionist parents, the weather, playing at a certain stadium and much more.
  • Coaches have a big responsibility when supporting young athletes. The way they deliver suggestions, analysis and criticism can play a large part in an athletes level of confidence.
  • Internal factors such as an athletes perception of the task, how they go about practice or training, how they assess performances or their perception of their own skills or personality traits can also influence their confidence levels.
  • If you are going to criticise, criticise constructively the performance or the specific task, never the person.
  • By focusing on the person when delivering feedback, emotions can take over and children need to know they are OK no matter how they perform.
  • We learn to be critical from our coaches and parents.
  • It’s very stressful to try to be perfect. Chasing perfection can make people feel anxious.
  • 32-47% of serious golfers are affected by the yips.
  • The yips can affect golfers, baseball players, snooker players, musical performers, darts players….
  • The yips can come in different forms from panic attacks with shortness of breath, muscle spasms and strange bodily sensations.
  • The more an athlete with the yips tries to control their movements the more rigid and tense they become.
  • Often the yips or traumatic events can mean professional athletes give up on their dreams and quit the sport but there is hope so it doesn’t have to be that way.
  • An athlete who has experienced trauma can feel helpless where their bodily movements are out of control and get easily overwhelmed, feeling embarrassment and shame.
  • Fight or flight or freeze responses are very common with the yips.
  • We store the negative energy and emotions in our brain after we’ve experienced stressful events.
  • Brainspotting and EMDR can be used to help athletes feel that the stored memories in their brain belong to the past reducing the emotional connection and freeing them up to play without fear and in the moment.
  • You can then feel free, you trust your skills and instincts. The bodily sensations that you feel are very different to when you’ve got the yips.  You’re not tense, your muscles feel fluid.
  • You can go beyond the level that you used to perform at when you process the memories and events in the brain.
  • The process can take weeks or months depending on the complexity of each case. It might be that coaches or parent’s communication style, returning to competition too quickly or practice and training in an unhelpful way can cause delays and further challenges.
  • There are solutions to overcome negative feelings and traumatic events with both mainstream sports psychology tools as well as additional brainspotting and EDMR techniques.
  • Be compassionate to yourself when you encounter difficult situations.

Thank you for tuning in!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose Demystifying Mental Toughnesss.  We’re grateful for that.   



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David Charlton Sports Psychologist

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Online Sports Psychologist who supports athletes around the world from the USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Australian and New Zealand, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.    

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence, Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, faster.    

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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