Julie Kliegman is a writer and editor in Queens, New York. She wrote Mind Game: An Inside Look at the Mental Health Playbook of Elite Athletes, due out in March 2024.
Her work has appeared in outlets including Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, Bookforum, The Ringer, BuzzFeed News, Vulture, The Verge, and Washington Monthly. Talk to her about The SpongeBob Musical. Subscribe below to her (infrequent) newsletter, Mental Notes. Photograph by Nina Subin.
In growing numbers, athletes are speaking up about their struggles with mental illness—including high-profile stars such as Michael Phelps, Kevin Love, Simone Biles, and Naomi Osaka. More disclosures are surely on the way, as athletes recognize that their openness can help others and inspire those around them.
In Mind Game: An Inside Look at the Mental Health Playbook of Elite Athletes, Julie Kliegman offers insight into how elite athletes navigate mental performance and mental illness—and what non-athletes can learn from them. She explores the recent mental health movement in sports, the history and practice of sport psychology, the stereotypes and stigmas that lead athletes to keep their troubles to themselves, and the ways in which injury and retirement can throw wrenches in their mental states. Kliegman also examines the impacts of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance use, and more, with a keen eye toward moving forward with acceptance, progress, and problem-solving.
Featuring insightful interviews with Olympians Chloe Kim, McKayla Maroney, and Adam Rippon, NBA players Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, former U.S. Open tennis champ Bianca Andreescu, and many other athletes and experts, Mind Game breaks down the ongoing, heartening movement of athletes across sports coming forward to get the care they need and deserve—and to help others feel safe opening up about their struggles, as well.
“At a time when sports have (finally) come to appreciate the importance of mental health and clarity, here comes Julie Kliegman with an extraordinary examination of the topic. Thorough, empathetic, and relevant, Mind Game helps us understand elite athletes—while packing practical applications that extend way beyond sports.” —L. Jon Wertheim, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Your Brain on Sports
“Julie Kliegman’s Mind Game is a vulnerable, visceral, and essential volume examining how elite athletes handle mental health and mental illness. Kliegman writes with biting clarity that is at times funny and at others devastating. This book is a fearless look at a topic that is at once ubiquitous while also completely ignored. Absolutely essential reading.” —Katie Barnes, author of Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates