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ADHD and Sports

By Amanda McLean, Ph.D.

​​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.