Former athletes, sports psychologist pushing for change amid Simone Biles' unexpected withdrawal from Olympics

Athletes of all stages can experience this mental stress and anguish.

Experts say needs to be addressed at the high school level to make sure each athlete is excelling both physically and more importantly- mentally.  

RELATED: Olympic champ Simone Biles withdraws from all-around competition

Atascocita High School star cross-country runner Avery Clover is a winner on the field and one-off, but she didn’t always feel that way especially after suffering some recent injuries.

"It was really hard for me to just get over that because it felt like it was going to be forever," she said.


While healing physically she received help from a sports psychologist.

"Just helping me to focus on the things that are in control and not the external things like maybe the expectations that had for me and my performance," said Clover.

RELATED: Sports Psychologist says Simone Biles "made the right decision" to bow out from Tokyo Olympics

"Coaches are realizing my kids don’t need help with their physical skill," Dr. Lennie Waite, a sports psychologist said. "Actually them doing the training is the easy part. It is managing what is between their ears that is really challenging."

As a former Olympian herself, Dr. Waites also gives sports performance talks to local high school athletes. 

"When coaches recognize that they are experts in many areas but not sports psychology experts," she said. "To bring that person in just a few times a year, it can help keep those kids on the right page."

"It’s not looked at as a center point of most teams' training programs," said Woodlands High School Cross Country and Track Coach Juris Green.

"The boys loved her coming to the sessions, but what I saw on the track and on the cross country court was kids that were for the first time, starting to work through those challenging parts of racing," he continued. "The greatest part was them coming across the finish line, and once they recovered, smiling about their efforts and feeling better which is worth all of it." 

"In my own athletic life as a high school and collegiate athlete and now as a coach, it is really where I center most of my attention in unlocking potential in kids," Coach Green concluded. 

Meanwhile, Clover, who is feeling it first-hand, says she is glad Simone Biles is shining light on the darkness that athletes face.

"It does take a lot of mental strength to be able to perform. I think it is about time that people understand that even the best athletes, they still have a lot of things that are really hard to work through," said Clover.