Cybil Streett, a sports psychotherapist in Orange County, Calif., said some of her clients who are surfers struggle with injuries and sometimes feel emotionally overwhelmed during recovery.
Surfing, she said, is a sport with many variables: the strength of waves, the weather and wind direction. Those variables can exhaust athletes over time, she said.
Erik Logan, the chief executive of the World Surf League, said in a statement that “the health and safety of our athletes is of the utmost importance, and we fully support Gabriel’s decision to prioritize his well-being.”
Last year, the league rearranged its schedule and overhauled how it would crown a champion. Typically, surfers built up points at events year-round, sometimes knowing who would win the championship before the final event in Hawaii even began.
But under the new playoff system, there is a one-day surf-off among the top five surfers.
Mr. Medina said last year that he did not like the new system because it was unfair.