Reply To: ADHD meds and athletic performance


I’m ADHD, I am a dad of two ADHD kids, and, most revelent to your question, I coached jr high and high school soccer for years. I got the nickname the ADHD coach because I loved having the “un-coachable, never going to succeed” ADHD kids that the other coaches abandoned. What I always told my adhd players was that they had to be honest about their meds to mom and/or dad. Tell them if you don’t feel like they are helping or the dosage is off. My son, who played soccer through high school, is on his third different adhd med. After awhile, the first med and then the second one he was on wasnt giving him the results he needed. He knew that he could come to us anytime about his meds and we would make an appointment to see the doctor and support him 100%. He has always been very open about his meds with us as a result. Most of my players, including my son, stayed on the meds gameday because it was more often than not a school day. Given that the boys never finished any lower than second place, I think its safe to say they did just fine while on their meds!!! In fact, if I noticed any unusual changes in one of the boys behaviors and/or focus, I would take him aside and ask him privately if he had taken his meds that day. More often than not, the answer was “no”. So, in my opinion, for most of my adhd players, meds “improved” their game by keeping them focused and more attuned to their teammates. But there are exceptions to every rule and your son may feel his game slips as a result. If he’s an elite player, chances are pretty high his coach wants him to succeed. Let’s be honest, elite athletes make coaches look better than they really are. My teams made me look “brillant” and I most certainly was not. Ask your son if he would be comfortable having a discussion with you, your spouse, and the coach. Let the coach know what’s going on and ask him/her to track your son’s performance and keep you informed so you can keep your doctor informed. As I’m sure you realized by now, most “neuro-normal” people THINK they know alot about adhd, but most know close to nothing besides stereotypes, myths, and prejudice. You may need to gently “coach” the coach for him/her to understand what your son is dealing with. I know a team can be remarkably successful with adhd athletes in starring roles. My boys put together quite a few undefeated seasons. It’s not hard to give a “go get ’em”, rousing pep talk to teen boys that have been discounted and pushed to side because of mental health bias. I would get glares from my adhd starters when I pulled them from a game that we were winning in a blowout. They always wanted more. Not to harm the other team, but to prove themselves to the doubters. They can be insatiable for success, which makes them a coach’s dream. So, while adhd athletes can be great on the field, don’t forget to make sure your boy knows he can be great off the field, too. After all, the odds of any kid becoming a professional athlete are lotto like. You said his teachers don’t “love” him. Have you spoken to the school about an IEP or 504 plan? A few accomadations may relieve some of the tensions in the classroom. I’m not going to say it has helped with every teacher my son had. Bias is alive and well in some classrooms. But I strongly doubt my son would have been anywhere as near successful in school as he was without his 504 plan. It’s not that he’s not smart, it’s that he thinks differently than what most teachers are used to. Final word from me on meds and athletes, be aware there is an adhd drug out there that lists as a possible side effect that it may hinder growth. A doctor I trust told me, even though the odds were very, very low, it may cost a kid an inch or two of height. That’s potentially huge for an athlete. So, until your son is done growing, you may want to discuss that particular med with your doctor and get his/her thoughts on that.