Sports can be either a positive or a negative experience for A.D.D. children. Exercise helps them burn off excess energy, yet some teen sports can be
frustrating because these children have difficulty listening and following the
rules. After-school sports are especially valuable in allowing a child to
release penned up anxiety at the end of a stressful academic day and to tire the
child out so they are more mellow and easier to live with during family time in
the late afternoon and evening. Here are some tips for matching child and sport:
- Start early. A younger child develops more a positive attitude about
sports because the rules for young children are simpler, and the games are less
- Match the child's temperament to the sport. Set your child up for
success. If your child cannot handle group situations in swimming class, for
example, get semi-private or private lessons first, until the child feels
confident. Confidence goes a long way toward helping the child with A.D.D.
settle down long enough to cooperate in-group instruction. If your child likes
to move around, she will be better off playing soccer than baseball.
- Match the child with the right position on the team. As a Little
League coach, Dr. Bill would place the children with A.D.D. on the infield
rather than the outfield. When they play outfield, they literally acted as if
they were out in left field. They would watch birds, pick dandelions, and pay
attention to anything but the batter. On the infield, they had to pay attention
because there was more action. On the other hand, he sometimes worries that the
particularly spacey infielders might get hit with the ball.
- Be patient. Don't be too disappointed if the child's interests wane
once he discovers he has to work at his skills. Many kids are like this, but it
is more extreme with children who have A.D.D. Not only is their attention more
difficult to hold, but they also lack the patience for gradual improvement. They
want to be at the professional level instantly.
- Don't invest too much in equipment until you know that the child will
stick with the sport.
- Practice with your child. Your child will maintain her interest if
she has more skills before she joins a team. Practice a lot in the two or three
weeks before official practice starts. Children who feel confident and succeed
are much more likely to stick with a sport.
- Remember that hyperfocus can give an athlete with A.D.D. an edge. In
team sports, the child with A.D.D. will usually prefer a position that allows
them to lock on and be totally at the center of the action (e.g., a goalie or
center in hockey, pitcher, catcher, or first base in baseball).
- Consider martial arts, such as tae kwan do or karate. These sports
can be therapeutic for the child with A.D.H.D. because they allow the child to
be aggressive but in a controlled way. The child must stand in a certain spot
and listen to instructions. He is more attentive because the instructions make
sense and have immediate relevance to him.