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ADHD and Sports


ADHD and Sports

Amanda McLean, Ph.D.​, Staff Psychologist

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. ​​

Enrolling your child in sports if they are diagnosed with ADHD can be a challenging decision for parents. Amanda McLean, Ph.D., Staff Psychologist at Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health, discusses how parents and coaches can help their child with ADHD.​