In the work with performance psychology, there are a number of athletes reporting difficulties linked to performing what used to be automatic movements. Athletes often describe this as a mysterious and sudden loss of an ability or skill that was previously automatic. This phenomenon is called Performance blocks, but has also previously been called Loss movement syndrome, yips or twisties. Performance blocks can be described as the loss of spatial awareness during an intense routine in e.g., gymnastics, and involve problems that manifest in locked, stuck, or frozen movement, lost ability in terms of fine and / or gross motor control and debilitating anxiety. It can simply be described as a fear of movements that used to be automatic and uncomplicated, meaning that it is no longer possible for an athlete to perform a skill, such as a volt for a gymnast, a jump for a figure skater or a swing for the golfer. This can be very troublesome and intimidating for the athlete and can lead to serious injuries.
Performance blocks can develop following severe stress, emotional abuse, trauma, worry or anxiety. It can also be a consequence of advanced motor skills being forced too quickly, stressing the athlete which can inhibit the process of automating the movements. The trigger can also be the very moment when the feeling of losing control occurs.