Simone Biles got the ‘twisties.’ What does that mean?

Japan 2020

US’s Simone Biles competes in the vault event of the artistic gymnastics women’s team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP) (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)

TOKYO (Nexstar) – Before Simone Biles withdrew from Thursday’s all-around gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympics, she competed at the vault. Things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Biles said she lost herself mid-air. She meant to do 2 1/2 twists, but only did 1 1/2.

Later, she told reporters, “They saw it a little bit in practice. Having a little bit of the twisties.”

What are the “twisties?”

Gymnasts explain it’s sort of like your mind and body disconnecting mid-air, so you’re not quite sure where you’re at mid-flip, making it hard to land safely.

“I’ve had the twisties since I was 11,” said fellow Olympic athlete Leah Finnegan on Twitter. “I cannot imagine the fear of having it happen to you during competition. … You have absolutely no control over your body and what it does. And the more you psych yourself out about [it], the worse it becomes.”

If you’re practicing back home, there might be a foam pit to catch you. In competition, the stakes are much higher.

Biles said in a press conference she was fine physically after her uncharacteristic vault this week. “That’s why I took a step back, because I didn’t want to do something silly out there and get injured.”

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