Sports & Activities

Secrets of Success for ADHD Athletes

Get the accommodations your child needs – in the gym and on the playing field.

Sports success, like developing a jump shot, is all about routine and practice
Sports success, like developing a jump shot, is all about routine and practice

Kids with ADHD benefit from accommodations in the gym and on the playing field, as well as in the classroom. But how do you get your budding athlete the help he deserves? Make sure the coach understands that ADHD is a “real” neurological disorder, and the fact that a child acts out does not necessarily mean he is disrespectful or has a bad attitude.

Tell the coach which types of situations are challenging for your child, and suggest ways to help. The operative word here is “suggest.” If you act like a dictator or a complainer, the coach is unlikely to be receptive.

Is it sometimes hard to get your child’s attention? Suggest to the coach that he establish eye contact with your child before speaking. Encourage him to use simple, one-step instructions, and to ask your child, “What did you hear me say?” to make sure the instruction is understood.

Does your child sometimes have trouble understanding (or heeding) spoken instructions? Ask the coach to demonstrate rather than explain. Photographs, videos, and written diagrams can also be helpful. Ask the coach to focus on what your child should do in practice or in the game, rather than what he should avoid doing.

As you “coach the coach,” think of what you can do to help. Do you take your child to games and practices? Be sure to arrive on time. Does your child have trouble remembering to take his entire uniform and all his equipment? Designate one place in your home for sports gear; the gear should always be in that place, in the wash, or with your child at the game or practice.

Finally, see that your child finishes the season. People with ADHD tend to move on if things become too hard or too routine. Stick-to-itiveness is a skill that will serve your child throughout his life.