Effective activities for kids with ADHD help to relieve common symptoms, like trouble focusing, mood swings, and emotional outbursts. Sports for kids with ADHD can be a challenge. On the one hand, they help to release excess energy. On the other hand, they can prove frustrating for children with ADHD, as sports often involve big-picture strategic thinking, navigating complex social dynamics of a team, and, in some cases, long periods of waiting or focus.

Organized sports can be especially challenging, because coaches are not always trained in teaching kids with ADHD. It is important to communicate your child’s condition, symptoms, and coping strategies to the coach ahead of time. Whether your child’s coach has worked with children with ADHD or not, equip him or her with specific strategies that will help your child succeed in a team setting. Consider the following pieces of advice for navigating a new sports team.

Offer Alternatives
Sports and games that involve a variety of activities are particularly effective in managing ADHD symptoms. If the coach sees a child getting bored or misbehaving, he or she ought to consider switching the roles in the game. If your child has to be ‘benched’ or otherwise wait for a portion of the game, the coach would benefit from backup activities to offer the child, even if they consist of small tasks like practicing a technique or dribbling ball. The idea is to have a wide variety of activities available for when your child has trouble focusing. 

ADHD Isn’t a Crutch
Children can become very competitive when it comes to sports, leading to emotional outbursts and even bullying. It is important that the coach not treat your child with ADHD or set them apart from the rest of the team. Instead, the coach should reinforce a general policy of courtesy, respect, and self-growth over a desire to win.

Advocate for Your Child
Having ADHD shouldn’t be a cause for your child to be excluded from the team. If a coach ignores your child’s needs or the sport becomes an abusive space, don’t be afraid to advocate for your child with the school or organization administration to find a sport and coach that is more accommodating.

 Find Your Community
Lastly, it might be a good idea to find an ADHD community. Consider campaigning with the school or sports organization for training events to teach the coaches and instructors how to address the needs of kids with ADHD. This will help spread awareness about the disorder and help you to network with other parents going through the same challenges.

Looking for more information about ADHD or ADD? Keep checking back to our blog for the latest topics. You can also call us to schedule an appointment for one-on-one time with your child to assess their needs: 503-981-5348.