I've had 'yips' for best part of ten years, says Stephen Hendry

SEVEN-TIMES snooker world champion Stephen Hendry has revealed that he has been suffering from the 'yips' for the past ten years.

Hendry lifted the lid on his torment after going down 9-6 to Mark Williams in the second round of the UK Championship.

The 'yips' is a condition more regularly associated with golf. It occurs when a player is unable to conduct the most basic of movements, usually a putt, without freezing or jerking the club. Ryder Cup hero Bernhard Langer is one of the best-known victims. The yips are also known to happen in cricket and tennis, when a normally natural action such as bowling or serving creates a mental block.

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Hendry says his cueing action has been affected, and shows no signs of improving. "On some shots I don't even get the cue through," said the 41-year-old. "It's so frustrating, it's like giving these guys a 50 (point] head-start, it's horrendous. It's got gradually worse for 10 years. I think I need to phone Bernhard Langer to see how he got over the 'yips' because that's what I have."

Hendry admits that the only consolation is that the problem did not hit him when he was at his peak, collecting world titles. "The one thing going for me is I'm at the end of my career," he said. "I wish in a way I didn't keep coming up with these good frames because it suggests maybe there is still petrol in the tank - and then I play three bad frames. It's frustrating but I just have to keep going."

Although the condition is unusual in snooker, fellow former world champion Steve Davis backed up Hendry yesterday by revealing that he had also been a victim. "You have to deal with it in the spur of the moment, you have to have a plan B and use your grit and determination to get through the day," Davis said. "But longer term you can only get confidence from improving your technique.

"When we talk about cueing across the face of the ball, what we are talking about is this: ideally when you are looking at a long straight pot, you want to be aiming at the centre of the cue ball, with your cue dead straight in line with the shot.

"You then want to pull it back on that line and deliver it back through the ball on the same line. Once a player stops doing that he has got serious problems.

"Once it starts, it is a bit like a golfer with a hook or a slice, the more you try to stop it, the worse it gets. It is debilitating for a player."