While teachers, counselors, therapists and doctors often advise that children with ADHD get involved in sports, the fact is these children can experience many challenges in doing so. According to the “ADDitude” magazine article “Game On: Picking Sports for ADHD Children,” children can be their worst enemies during sports, losing focus, getting frustrated, failing to strategize and not interacting appropriately. Find a sport that challenges your child with ADHD but also supports his developmental needs.
Team sports, especially team contact sports, can prove too aggressive for children with ADHD. “ADDitude” magazine recommends individual sports that focus on skill rather than teamwork and competition. However, if a child has a strong interest in a team sport, he may have the motivation to compete, particularly if he can focus on playing a specific position.
Many sports can bring out the grace, strength and skill in children with ADHD. Consider activities such as swimming, martial arts, horseback riding, diving, tennis, gymnastics or fencing. Group lessons and activities still give your child the opportunity to interact with peers as well as instructors, but without the pressure of competition.
In D. Steven Ledingham’s article “Best and worst after-school activities for children with ADHD,” he highlights activities that emphasize community involvement, artistic expression, physical involvement and pure enjoyment. He recommends swimming, karate, dance and tae kwon do. He also likes scouting for its many recreational and community-oriented opportunities such as camping and hiking.
The Ask Dr. Sears website contains a list of positive traits in many children with ADHD, many of which you can support with sports. Children with ADHD often exhibit spontaneity, quick thinking, creativity, intense focus on something of interest, tenacity, high energy and hyper-productivity.
Ask Dr. Sears offers several tips on finding the most best, most appropriate sports for children with ADHD. Start children young, when games tend to be less competitive. Select an activity that matches your child’s strengths, interests and temperament. Practice skills at home, breaking down complicated maneuvers into simple steps. Be patient as your child may lose interest but return to the activity later.