Questions for ‘What happened when Simone Biles got the twisties at the Olympics?’

gymnast Simone Biles twists through the air

Gymnast Simone Biles (pictured) did twisting rotations, flips and other amazing moves at the June 2021 U.S. Olympic trials in St. Louis, Mo. Then she got the twisties at the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. As a result, she pulled out of several events.

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images Sport

To accompany “What happened when Simone Biles got the twisties at the Olympics?


Before Reading:

1.  What does it mean for an athlete to “choke”? What can cause that?

2.  What type of performances cause you stress or anxiety? Does it always happen or just sometimes? What seems to trigger it?

During Reading:

1.  When did Simone Biles experience the twisties — and what is that?

2.  Similar problems can plague athletes in other sports. Give two examples.

3.  When will an athlete experience such a problem and how long will it last?

4.  What two possible triggers did Gregory Youdan offer for Biles’ twisties?

5.  What does Kathleen Cullen offer as one or more explanations for why the brain can become disoriented in gymnastics.

6.  What is the main part of the brain that Cullen suspects plays a role in this disorientation?

7.  How long did it take Simone Biles to recover from the twisties?

After Reading:

1.  The twisties seems to be one way that anxiety and the stress of performing can affect how well our organs (such as the brain) work. Describe ways in which stress can might also affect the performance of an athlete in a sport you play or follow. How might it affect taking a test or performing in a play before a packed audience?

2.  Now, read up on preparing for anxiety and harnessing it to work for you, such as here. Now how might people in each of the situations in the previous question try to limit the impact of their performance anxiety?