Sports & Activities

Good Sports: Activities That Boost Self-Esteem, Social Skills & Behavior

In a recent survey, ADDitude parents shared their kids’ favorite sports and how those activities impact ADHD symptoms — improving social skills, self-esteem, and focus.

Soccer field, baseball pitch, basketball court, swimming pool – each athletic arena stimulates the ADHD brain in unique and potentially valuable ways. The focus and precision required of a baseball catcher may harness one child’s hyperfocus, while rapid-fire passing drills in basketball may channel the energy of another. In a recent survey, ADDitude asked caregivers what sports their children play. Below are the observed benefits of various sports for children with ADHD. Does your child play a sport? Share your experience in the Comments section below.

Good Sports for Children with ADHD

“My daughter joined the color guard of the marching band at her high school and it was the best thing she ever did for her ADD. The consistency and intensity of the exercise led her to stop needing her ADD medication. Marching band improved her time-management skills and provided a friend group. It improved her confidence, and her self-pride has made her push herself harder in other areas.” – Michelle

“Playing a sport created a structured schedule that was helpful for my son. Practices were daily and homework time shrunk, so he had less time to waste. His love for the sport motivated him to do well in school since his eligibility to play depended on his grades.” – Anonymous

“My son says being the catcher in baseball keeps him focused since the catcher is involved in every play of the game. He has better control of his ADHD and emotions when he is playing, and interacting with his teammates boosts his social skills. He played soccer when he was younger, but he would drift out of position and struggled to focus on drills at practice, so he decided to try something different”. – Anonymous

“Swimming was the best sport for my daughter’s ADHD. She loved being in the water and she focused so much better after practice. It was a great outlet for her extroverted personality: when she wasn’t racing she would be chatting, she’d get in the pool and swim, then get out and start chatting again. Sports provided her with much-needed positive feedback.” – Anonymous

[Karate or Kickball? Fencing or Football? The Best Sports for Kids with ADHD]

“It’s important to match the sport to your child’s ADHD needs. My grandson needs movement – it’s hard for him to stand still. Playing t-ball, where he was required to stand in one area for an inning, was torture. He switched to soccer and thrived.” – Janice

“Figure skating helps enormously with self-esteem and sense of achievement. Attempting complicated tricks pushes my daughter outside of her comfort zone and proves that she is capable.” – Anonymous

“My son plays baseball and flag football. Sometimes he doesn’t understand the instructions unless they are physically demonstrated. When a coach understands this and uses constructive, positive praise, then there is mutual respect and trust — and he excels.” – Anonymous

“Soccer helps my daughter diffuse pent-up energy. Whenever she’s feeling anxious or restless, she’ll go for a run or arrange to meet a friend to kick a ball.” – Anonymous

[Read This Next: Win (And Lose) As A Team]

“At least one physical activity is required for my children with ADHD. My son runs cross country, and it gives him structure and purpose. He thrives in the individual sport since he doesn’t have to keep up with a complicated set of rules and he can focus on his own effort and performance without worrying about anyone else. My daughter plays soccer, and they both benefit from learning from and listening to coaches.” – Cristin

“Ice hockey is helping my son learn how to focus on what the coach is saying and look to the other children for social ques.” – Robin

Sport has changed our lives. Our 8-year-old does Brazilian Jiu jitsu, soccer, netball, and swimming. We also take her for evening runs. We’ve noticed an improvement in her moods, ability to focus and sleep.” – Anonymous

Good Sports for Children with ADHD: Next Steps


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