Simone Biles Triumphs Over ‘The Twisties’: Overcoming Mental Blocks in Gymnastics

Xavier Roger
Simone Biles owns 25 world championship medals and seven Olympic medals.Credit...Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Simone Biles, the celebrated gymnast, is making a remarkable comeback from the infamous ‘the twisties,’ a condition that has cast a shadow over the sport for years. Biles’ return has reignited discussions about this mental block and how it affects gymnasts during their routines. Let’s delve into the world of ‘the twisties’ and how athletes like Simone Biles deal with this daunting challenge.

The Mysterious ‘Twisties’ in Gymnastics

For a long time, the term ‘the twisties’ has been whispered in gymnastics circles with an air of fear and superstition. Coaches and athletes alike dreaded acknowledging this sudden loss of spatial awareness during routines, as if the mere mention of it could worsen the problem.

According to Mark Williams, the experienced coach of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team, “‘the twisties’ were akin to a mythical phenomenon. Whenever someone talked about it, everyone shuddered, knowing how bad it could be.”

Simone Biles’ Tokyo Experience

In the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Simone Biles confronted ‘the twisties’ head-on. The mental block forced her to withdraw from several events, including the team and all-around finals, to prioritize her safety and well-being. Biles’ decision to speak openly about ‘the twisties’ brought this issue into the global spotlight.

Despite the challenges, Biles displayed incredible resilience and secured a bronze medal on the balance beam. She achieved this by adjusting her routine to eliminate any twisting elements, finding a way to work around the ‘twisties’ with the help of her coach, Cecile Landi.

Biles’ Return to Competition

Now, Simone Biles is ready to compete again, making her return to the U.S. Classic in the Chicago suburbs. The anticipation is high, and Biles is scheduled to perform all four events, including the notoriously challenging uneven bars. She has openly shared that the mental and physical difficulties associated with this discipline have been her primary hurdle.

While her return is a testament to her determination and skill, it also highlights the rarity of overcoming ‘the twisties.’ Many gymnasts struggle to make it back to the highest level of competition once they encounter this mental block.

Gage Dyer’s Battle with ‘The Twisties’

Shortly after Biles’ revelations about ‘the twisties,’ Gage Dyer, a promising gymnast training in Oklahoma, was aiming for a spot at the 2021 world championships. Having excelled in the 2021 Olympic trials, his confidence was soaring, but he knew he needed to elevate the difficulty of his routines to make it to the worlds.

For years, Dyer had mastered complex twisting and flipping elements with ease. However, the summer or fall of 2021 brought unexpected challenges. The skills that were once second nature suddenly deserted him, leaving him perplexed and frustrated.

The Elusive Solution

Dealing with ‘the twisties’ can be an enigma, and there is no universal remedy. Many gymnasts benefit from taking a mental step back to reset themselves. Unfortunately, in Dyer’s case, the pressure to prove himself and secure a place on the world stage didn’t afford him that luxury.

Despite battling the mental block and attempting to maintain his competitive edge, Dyer ultimately chose to retire from elite gymnastics. He relocated to Florida and found solace in working at Walt Disney World’s “Lion King” show, where he occasionally bounces on a trampoline.

Biles’ Impact on the Conversation

Simone Biles’ openness about her struggles with ‘the twisties’ has paved the way for more candid discussions about mental health in gymnastics. Her successful return to the sport demonstrates that athletes can overcome ‘the twisties’ and compete at the highest level once again.

As we witness Biles’ journey, it serves as a reminder that mental health challenges are not insurmountable obstacles. With determination, support, and understanding, athletes can find a way back to their passion, even after encountering the dreaded ‘twisties.’


Simone Biles’ return to gymnastics after battling ‘the twisties’ is a testament to her courage and resilience. By openly discussing her struggles, she has broken the stigma surrounding mental health in sports, inspiring others to share their experiences. While ‘the twisties’ can be a formidable opponent, Biles and other gymnasts’ stories show that with the right support and determination, it is possible to conquer this mental block and emerge stronger than before. The journey might be challenging, but it is one worth taking to fulfill their dreams on the world stage.

Source : NBC

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