The GOAT gymnast Simone Biles decided to withdraw from the Olympics Tuesday because she says she “got the twisties.” That’s when gymnasts flying through the air lose their sense of where they are, which had been so natural before. But in getting the twisties, that can endanger her physical health when she hits the ground. The media is consistently describing it as “mental health” problem. I think the media needs to rethink that.
The young Ms. Biles is a world-class star athlete. All athletes know to some degree what she’s experiencing. It’s a loss of confidence in performing her sport, plain and simple. But it’s more serious for a gymnast than for most other athletes because she’s flying through the air with the greatest of ease until she loses her confidence, and then she is no longer flying through the air with the greatest of ease, but with fear.
That’s what a loss of confidence is–fear. It’s fear that you cannot accomplish what you are trying to perform. It happens to the best of them. See my post yesterday about this, “Are Twisties Like the Yips,” meaning in golf. From what I can tell, there isn’t anything at all wrong with Simone Biles’ mental health. Rather, I think if a person loses her or his confidence doing what she does, to quit shows that she has good mental health. And for those American Olympic officials who got mad at her because she quit, I think they are the ones who have a mental health problem and thus need a psychiatrist!