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ADHD and Sports

​​Sports are a great way to get children with ADHD involved with their peers and provide them with opportunities to learn new skills and access positive interactions with adults.

Is it ok for kids with ADHD to participate in team sports?

Participating in team sports may benefit kids with ADHD because they have something positive to focus their energy on in a place where they can be rewarded for having energy. Sports can also offer the opportunity for a coach to have a positive impact on the child and for the child to feel good about his or her accomplishments.

What sports challenges do kids with ADHD face?

Children with ADHD often exhibit impulsive and hyperactive behavior – making snap shot decisions, doing the first thing that comes to mind, difficulties waiting their turn, and interrupting, as well as inattention –difficulties resisting distractions. Regardless, kids with ADHD will struggle to stay on task and listen the first time. It is important for parents and coaches to remember to keep instructions short and only provide one or two simple instructions at a time.

How can parents and coaches help?

Whether or not parents decide to inform the coaches that their child has ADHD, it is helpful to inform them of useful strategies and tips that will promote their child’s behavioral success.

  • Children with ADHD will benefit from frequent and positive praise from both parents and coaches so that they are motivated to remain on task and participate in the activity. Coaching the child with ADHD will require that you be more observant of and positively respond to appropriate and desirable behavior.
  • Remember, children with ADHD may require more repetition before they can acquire skills or complete tasks.
  • State directions clearly. Remind the child of the directions or rules before beginning a task and have the child repeat them out loud.

Playing sports could impact your child’s self-esteem, build confidence and help the building blocks for his or her social life.

  • ADHD and Sports

    I think it's a great idea for kids with ADHD to participate in sports because it gives them a positive place to focus their energy and a place where they are rewarded for having lots of energy.  I think with the right understanding of the child and of the symptoms, then this is a really great opportunity for a coach to have a positive impact on the child and for the child to feel good about himself.

    What challenges will kids with ADHD have with sports?

    You're going to see some of these children with ADHD just have a hard time with impulse control, and so they show more impulsive and hyper active behavior by interrupting a lot, having a hard time waiting their turn, by having a hard time with stopping and thinking, and doing the first thing that pops into their head.  Then some of these kids are just going to have a hard time resisting distractions, and so they are going to show more day dreaming ​and off task behavior.

    How can parents and coaches help?

    For the parents it's probably a good idea for them to maybe meet with the coach and give him some strategies or techniques that are effective with their child.  Letting them know my child might have a hard time staying on task.  They might need more repetition before they can really acquire a skill.  You might find they have a hard time with waiting their turn and with interrupting.  The parent even might let them know my child is on medication and sometimes that medication will be in their system and sometimes it won't and that just gives the coach a heads up.  And then they can talk to them about strategies that will be affective for their child. 

    For the coaches it's important to know that these are kids that are going to need the instructions to be broken down.  And for them to only give about one or two instructions at a time and the most important thing for these kids is that they get a really high rate of positive feedback so that they are motivated to comply with the expectation. ​​

Behavioral Health;Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics