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What we all can learn from Simone Biles’ mental struggles at the Olympics

Mental skills coach Sean Quinn shares his reaction to Simone Biles bowing out of Olympic competitions and describes the pressure these athletes face.

SEATTLE — Team USA gymnast Simone Biles shocked the world when she pulled out of the team and all-around events this week, citing her mental health. It wasn’t because she was sad or depressed. In a nutshell, Simone’s brain wasn’t properly telling her body what to do, and she knew that could lead to a serious injury.

To better understand how athletes manage performance anxiety and stay focused to turn in their best performance, we talked with Sean Quinn, a mental skills coach with The Moawad Consulting Group. It’s a company that helped lead the University of Alabama to multiple national titles. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson trusts Moawad to keep himself at the top of his game.

RELATED: 'OK not to be OK': Mental health takes top role at Olympics

Quinn shared what short-circuits top athletes, what they do about it and how we all can perform better by following a few simple steps.

“When you set that bar so high, it can be really tough to replicate,” Quinn said. “A lot of those times we want to go back to our preparation – what led us to be the athlete that we are – as opposed to focusing on the things we can’t control. We can’t control that we’re the most decorated gymnast in women’s gymnastics history or that we’ve had these certain unbelievable accomplishments. A lot of times we want to sit there and say, ‘Here’s what my plan is. Here’s what I’m going to do.’ And I need to focus on that as opposed to focusing on the things that are outside of my control.”