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Chuck Knoblauch Syndrome/the yips

Dec 30, 2008
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I am writing to ask you a question and I am not sure anyone can help me out but if not, I am hoping you can point me in the right direction. I am 26 years old and have played ball for about 19 years, the majority of that at fairly high competitive level. I currently play in a very competitive senior womens league. Teams in our league are packed with former and present national team players along with University and other high level ball players.

I have been a catcher for 10 years and in the last 2 seasons I have started to develop Chuck Knoblauch syndrome or the Yips or whatever you want to call it. The simplest throw back to the pitcher has turned into my worst nightmare on the field. I can throw anywhere else during the game with no problem, pick off a runner at 2, try for a play at 3, no problem. But throwing back to the pitcher every pitch is like the hardest thing in the world. It happened to me once for a few games years ago but I was able to shake it off and then at the end of the 06/07 season it came back and I haven't been able to shake it since. I didn't want to tell anyone it was happening or the extent to which it was happening because it seems ridiculous to me as I've thrown thousands, maybe even millions of balls to the pitcher over the years but at the moment it is the hardest thing to do. So last year I started avoiding catching as much as I could...

I know that it's a viscous cycle and a mind issue...I end up over thinking each throw more and more and lose form or technique more and more which each attempt but no matter what I do I can't seem to get it out of my head. For whatever reason I can't shake it and I need help figuring out how to shake it.

Sorry that this is such a long posting and I hope it makes sense. Eventhough it's off season here I still think about this problem all the time...and more consistently as we get closer to training and preseason practices. Any help, advice or recommendations would be REALLY appreciated.

Thanks for listening
 
May 12, 2008
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It's happened to male catchers who get paid millions if it helps any to not feel alone. Hope Catching Coach has something good for you. My sympathies.
 
Jan 6, 2009
2,075
48
Pacific NW
Just to echo what Mark said, I've been uploading hitters and someone was talking about this happening to a ML catcher. They said he keep walking farther and farther out in front of the plate as it became worse.

And your right it is mostly a mind issue.

When I was younger I played on my coed softball church team. And they would always put a girl on first. And she wasn't as skilled as women are today. They put me at shortstop most of the time and the third baseman was a very good player and a woman. When she played I always felt I could cheat one way or the other and I knew I didn't have to cover the entire left side.

Anyways, If you didn't make the perfect throw to first. The first baseman would drop the ball or mis it. And as time passed I found myself starting to think about the throw and trying to make the perfect throw so she could catch it.

I could feel the tension in my motion, as my throwing motion became a real issue. And eventually I started to think about every throw and play, because of trying to make the perfect throw. It created many issues, it went from something I did very naturally without "over thinking the situation". To thinking about every situation and how I was going to get the ball over to first where she could catch the ball.

And it wasn't like I was practicing allot to regain my rhythm and keeping it natural, just like she never practiced becoming better at catching the ball.

I can say this though, when I played on a men's team it carried over. And everything had become very unnatural because of the thinking. It caused tension in fielding along with throwing and pressure, I created in my mind the pressure, from trying to throw and do it perfect on the coed team. First it was thinking about the throw and then it started to effect my fielding as well.

I hated slow pitch anyways, and around the same time, I started coaching fastpitch.

And because of what happens in slowpitch on a men's team where there is hardly ever an "easy" ball at short stop, almost everything is traveling at a high speed because slow pitch is basically tee ball for grown men and women (compared to fastpitch and baseball, the shortstop gets many easy plays because of poorly hit balls). So, I was no longer just having fun or enjoying the challenge.

I can say looking back at it, I now know what I would have changed first to start to correct what happened. And I think the first thought would be to remember to have fun, you can be competitive, but you also have to remember to have fun. Maybe go out and have someone hit balls and make it where I would have to range a long ways and come up with a great backhand or dive and come up just throwing the ball.
 

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