How to Help Coach Your ADHD Child Athlete

11 ways to help the coach of your ADHD child expose her natural talent, better provide instructions, and make her team-sport experience a good one.

Coach the Coach, Part 2

  • Go one-on-one. ADD kids get lost in group directions. But they do well in one-on-one coaching situations. Ask the coach to talk to your child individually to explain instructions.
  • Do a double-check. Suggest that the coach ask your child privately if she understood directions, asking her to repeat what she heard. This goes a long way toward avoiding communication breakdowns. If a child appears to be disengaged or confused, the coach should try to find out where the breakdown occurred so the problem can be corrected with further explanation.
  • Win - and lose - as a team. Many children have a hard time with losing. The coach should make sure that the players know that winning or losing is a team responsibility. A player should not be held at fault, even if he missed the last shot or made the last strikeout. It is the coach's job to instill and demonstrate sportsmanship values for all players, beginning with the first practice. Support, encouragement, and respect for all players should be a top priority.
  • Move players around. The coach should rotate positions so that everyone on the team has an opportunity to be in active positions. This will help your child - and the other players - to use excess energy well and possibly to learn a new skill.
  • Manage excitement. Children with ADD often get caught up in the action of the game, forgetting about strategy and teamwork. Awareness of this will help the coach help your child focus.
  • Keep 'em busy. Your child should have a job to do while waiting on the bench or during downtimes: assisting scorekeepers, keeping equipment in order, anything that will hold her interest.
  • Let 'em rest. The coach should devise a take-a-break plan with your child. Breaks offer respite to children who become overwhelmed.
  • Think young. Children with ADD are often socially and emotionally younger than their age. If they play with children a year or two younger, they may have more fun.
  • Think positive. Ask the coach to assess your child's strengths and emphasize them in practice and play. For example, if your child's soccer coach sees that she is doggedly determined to block the ball, he might make her the goalie.

A good coach will consider it a gift when you inform her of your child's special needs. Coaches have the opportunity to make a huge impact on students' lives. They can help each player feel like an important member of the team - each with his own talents that help the team as a whole.

This article comes from the April/May 2004 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: Sports for ADHD Children

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