Simone Biles is coming back from ‘the twisties.’ Not every gymnast does

The term “the twisties” was usually uttered in hushed tones, as a slang saying during routine practice, to describe the sudden loss of air awareness that gymnasts may experience for years.

Mark Williams, the coach for men’s gymnastics in Oklahoma for a long time, expressed, “It is akin to a legendary phenomenon.” “Since it is detrimental, people recoil at the mere mention of ‘the twisties’.”

Simone Biles withdrew from multiple events, such as the team and all-around finals, as a means of self-preservation after experiencing a sudden mental barrier at the onset of the pandemic-delayed 2020 Olympics. This declaration was made publicly in Tokyo two summers ago.

Landi Cecile, the coach of She, had just found a way to work around the twisties. She admitted that the twisties had disappeared while she was competing in the Olympics, and she called it a sweet triumph. She won the seventh Olympic medal, a bronze, by slightly altering her routine and removing any twisting elements while performing on the balance beam.

Biles, the 26-year-old gymnast, won’t be competing in the U.S. Classic in the suburbs of Chicago on Thursday, as all four events, including the uneven bars, are scheduled for Saturday. She acknowledged on her Instagram stories that this week has been the most challenging in terms of both physical and mental discipline, making it difficult to return to her routines of flipping and twisting uninterrupted for a total of 45 seconds.

At this juncture, despite being the most honored female gymnast in history, she stated: “I’m okay. I’m performing twists once more. No concerns. Everything is satisfactory.” Biles retains the freedom to determine her own comfort level and make decisions accordingly.

In its essence, an accomplishment is reaching this stage again — if it reaches that extent — in preparation for the Paris Olympics, the upcoming year or this particular weekend, regardless of the outcome.

Not everyone does.

Gage Dyer was in training in Oklahoma, eyeing a spot at the world championships, when the conversation about mental health issues and “the twisties” was raised by Biles, either a month ago or so.

Dyer’s confidence was soaring as he finished his routines on the fourth floor exercise and third floor vault at the Olympic 2021 trials, even though he knew he still needed to ramp up the difficulty of his routines if he wanted to make it to the worlds.

Within five years, Dyer had worked his way into a prominent position in one of Oklahoma’s dominant men’s programs. His unusually advanced age did not stop him from taking up the sport, which had come easy to him due to his exceptional skill in flipping and twisting.

He believed he would never encounter it, as everything had been effortless for such a prolonged period of time that he had been informed about “the twisties” but had never personally encountered them. As the spring of 2021 approached, he had become a champion in various events within the NCAA, and by 2018, he was regularly participating in national competitions.

Then in the late summer or early fall of 2021, the basics he’d mastered so easily at a young age essentially vanished.

Williams observed. However, Dyer did not wish to discuss it.

Williams said, “He didn’t just tell me.” “He stopped doing some of the stuff he was doing. How did you come to be doing that? I would like to be like that. Today, I haven’t lost it yet. I just say, ‘Not yet.’ ‘No, are you figuring that out later?’ ‘Couple of days later.'”

Otherwise, it was something else. He was trying to walk the fine line between refining his “veteran” skills and hurrying, which added more difficulty. He felt like he was “on the clock” and under stress, similar to a male gymnast in his prime, at the age of 23.

He knows all that happened and he knows all that still isn’t sure what happened on this particular day to Dyer. He knows all that for years he could do a double backflip with a full twist and then he couldn’t do it anymore.

The full-in had always been “extremely simple” until the moment it became nearly impossible.

“I’m thinking, ‘if I can’t accomplish this, then I have a significant issue,'” Dyer stated.

Dyer did not possess the privilege of having that luxury. He was attempting to demonstrate to the selection committee that he was prepared to compete at the global level. Although there is no universally effective remedy for “the twisties,” numerous gymnasts find it advantageous to take a mental step back in order to potentially achieve an internal reset.

It didn’t help him figure it out, but providing a small break would have helped him with the injury he hoped for. Ultimately, taking him out of training resulted in him suffering an ankle injury.

Everywhere he went, it appeared that he would always land on his feet. Whether it was on his side or on his back, he would always manage to land safely. Even when he jumped into a foam pit, which was supposed to provide a cushion for him, it would unexpectedly become a scene of utter disorder. In this chaotic situation, he would find himself attempting to execute even the simplest maneuvers, which were usually considered routine for someone with his impressive track record, into the foam pit.

You’re just not making any progress, and your limbs are in motion, and as you glance downwards, you realize that you must sprint in order to preserve your life, perhaps “nightmare” is a more fitting term, Dyer compared it to a vision.

Dyer said, “If I knew the exact point where I was going to land and if I continued to try and push through this, I would seriously hurt my head.”

Dyer realized that it was futile to try and make a run for the Olympic team in 2024. By February 2022, he understood that he needed to maintain some elements of tumbling such as pikes, triple-backs, and other specialist vault and floor exercise skills, rather than just twisting and flipping. While he was able to maintain some of these elements,

While I was dealing with what I was dealing with, he said, “it wouldn’t have been beneficial for me to maintain that top level of competitiveness and struggle to compete.”

Dyer has relocated to Florida, where he currently works as part of his job at Walt Disney World, specifically on the show King Lion. Some of the things he thought were forever gone have returned to him, and he considers retirement not just enough. His job requires him to work on a trampoline.

Dyer expressed, “I thoroughly enjoy the current phase of my life.” … Dyer mentioned, “I fail to comprehend it. However, I have introspected on a few occasions.” Dyer added, “I could revisit those thoughts if I desired and convince myself that I long for it while genuinely observing gymnastics,” but at the same time, “I have made choices that I am content with, in a way.”

Dyer will be watching Biles on Saturday night when she steps back into the spotlight for the first time since those surreal two weeks in Japan, when the world of sports focused on a singular athlete, the heavy favorite to win a fistful of gold medals, essentially turning her into a cheerleader for her U.S. Teammates and coaches who tried to figure out what went wrong.

He thinks that Biles’ openness about her struggle with the different aspects of “the twisties” has made it safer to discuss.

He stated, “There exists a path to return. That it is not the conclusion of all things. She is currently demonstrating that one can regain a specific degree and possess the ability to engage in competition.”