Fultz, the Yips and Explaining the Sports Phenomenon

Rick Ankiel, Mackey Sasser and others weigh in on just how difficult the yips can be—and how the crushing anxiety can take over your life.
Markelle Fultz of the Philadelphia 76ers watches the Boston Celtics at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center on October 20, 2017. Fultz has been trying to work through a case of the yips this summer.
markelle fultz, shooting, yips Source: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

It’s a confounding thing, identity shaking. Like a thief in the night, the yips creep in—and you, a world-class athlete, are suddenly robbed of something so simple, a task you’ve done mindlessly for decades.

In June 2017, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. Fultz was, by nearly all accounts, a can't-miss prospect who'd inject scoring into an already promising Philly lineup.

By January 2018, Fultz's jump shot was hopelessly broken—the form so bad it'd look out of place on a playground court, let alone an NBA floor.

In months that would follow, there’d be numerous (and conflicting) reports of shoulder injuries and training gone awry. Months later, NBA trainer Drew Hanlen would finally pin his client’s issues on the yips—a frightening diagnosis but one most observers had long suspected.

The yips, simply put, occur when an athlete cannot perform a simple sports task—sometimes to nearly unbelievable levels—triple clutches with a ball in

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