Twisting Gymnastics: Overcoming ‘the Twisties’ – Tips for Athletes

twisting gymnastics

Twisting Gymnastics is an awe-inspiring sport that demands precision, strength, and immense mental focus. Athletes gracefully flip, twirl, and twist through the air, defying gravity. However, within this world of acrobatic artistry, there’s a mysterious and dreaded phenomenon known as ‘the Twisties.’ In this article, we will unravel the enigma of the Twisties, exploring their causes, duration, and most importantly, how to conquer them.

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What Are ‘the Twisties’ in Gymnastics?

‘The Twisties’ is a term widely used in gymnastics to describe a sudden loss of spatial awareness during aerial maneuvers. Gymnasts who experience the Twisties find themselves unable to execute twists and flips with the usual precision and control. It’s akin to a mental block that disrupts their routines, leading to potential injuries and loss of confidence.

What Are the Twisties?

The Twisties can be best described as a disconnect between the gymnast’s mind and body. While their body might remember the movements and techniques, their brain fails to sync with them during high-stress situations, such as mid-air flips and twists.

What Causes the Twisties?

The Twisties have multifaceted origins, involving both physical and mental factors. They can manifest due to:

Physical Causes

  • Growth Spurts: Rapid changes in height and body proportions can affect a gymnast’s proprioception, making it challenging to gauge their movements accurately.

  • Injuries: Past injuries, especially to the head or neck, can trigger the Twisties as the body subconsciously tries to protect itself.

  • Fatigue: Exhaustion from rigorous training or competition can lead to mental lapses.

Mental Causes

  • Performance Anxiety: The pressure to execute flawless routines in front of judges and a large audience can induce anxiety, leading to the Twisties.

  • Overthinking: When gymnasts overanalyze their movements, it disrupts their muscle memory, making them prone to the Twisties.

Physical and Mental Causes of the Twisties

The combination of physical and mental factors can create a perfect storm for gymnasts experiencing the Twisties. It’s essential to address both aspects to find effective solutions.

How Long Do the Twisties Last?

The duration of the Twisties varies from athlete to athlete. Some may experience them for a few days, while others might struggle for weeks or even months. The key is to identify the underlying causes and work towards recovery patiently.

How To Overcome the Twisties

Overcoming the Twisties requires dedication, patience, and a systematic approach:

Mental Training

  • Visualization: Practicing routines mentally can help reestablish the mind-body connection.

  • Breathing Techniques: Deep, focused breathing can alleviate anxiety during performances.

Physical Training


  • Progressive Drills: Gradually reintroducing twisting and flipping elements in a safe environment can rebuild confidence.

  • Spotting: Having a coach or spotter during practice can provide reassurance.

Who Else Gets the Twisties?

The Twisties aren’t exclusive to novice gymnasts; even elite athletes, like Olympic champions, can fall victim to them. It’s a reminder that mental and physical challenges are universal in the sport of Twisting Gymnastics.

Training Your Mind and Your Body

Gymnasts must prioritize mental conditioning alongside their physical training. Developing a resilient mindset can significantly reduce the risk of the Twisties and improve overall performance.


In this article, we’ve explored the perplexing world of
twisting gymnastics. We’ve learned about their origins, both physical and mental, and discovered strategies to overcome them. Gymnastics is not just about perfecting physical routines but also about mastering the mental aspects of the sport.


The Twisties are a formidable challenge for gymnasts, but they are not insurmountable. With the right mindset, training, and support, gymnasts can regain their confidence and continue to dazzle us with their incredible performances.


Q1: Can anyone get the Twisties, or is it more common among experienced gymnasts?

A1: The Twisties can affect gymnasts of all skill levels, from beginners to Olympic champions.

Q2: Are there any preventive measures to avoid the Twisties?

A2: While there’s no foolproof method, consistent mental and physical training can reduce the risk.

Q3: Can the Twisties lead to long-term psychological effects?

A3: While rare, prolonged struggles with the Twisties can have psychological repercussions. Seeking professional help is essential in such cases.

Q4: Do gymnasts ever fully recover from the Twisties?

A4: Yes, many gymnasts have successfully overcome the Twisties with the right support and strategies.

Q5: Is there any medication that can help with the Twisties?

A5: Medication is generally not recommended for treating the Twisties. It’s best to focus on mental and physical training.



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