What are the best sports for kids with ADHD?
Getting children involved with sports offers plenty of benefits, including physical exercise, development of social skills and even boosted self-esteem. But do all sports offer the same level of benefit for children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
A common condition, ADHD affects more than 11.1 percent of children in Michigan ages 4-17 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The three main symptoms experienced by those with ADHD are impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity, but children with ADHD tend to experience these symptoms at varying levels.
Considering the severity of their symptoms, children with ADHD may find they enjoy playing some sports more than others. Factors like the coaching dynamic, overall pace of the sport and focus on teamwork versus individual performance may influence the decision on which sport is best.
Team Sports vs. Individual Sports
The sports that are most ideal for children with ADHD are those with a more individual focus. Many of these sports offer the opportunity for an athlete to compete as an individual, but they still get the experience of being part of a team because their individual scores often contribute to the team’s overall score.
One major benefit of individual sports for children with ADHD is the direct interaction between the coach and the athlete. Individual sports offer a coaching dynamic where the instruction is more one-on-one. It’s much easier for children with ADHD to focus if there are fewer distractions and the coaching is directed specifically at them. If they are playing a sport where the coaching is directed more at the team as a whole, an athlete with ADHD may have a harder time paying attention.
Because of the coaching and more individual focus, here are some examples of sports that a child with ADHD may enjoy include:
- Martial arts
- Track or Cross Country
These are sports where the athletes are almost always moving and there’s very little idle time. That constant motion provides a good outlet for the athletes to use their energy, and having less idle team means they are less likely to become distracted.
Medication and Sports
One of the things parents should keep in mind if their child with ADHD chooses to play sports is the child’s medication schedule. Most students are treated for ADHD in a way that allows the medication to peak when the child is in school, because that’s when he or she most needs to pay attention. But if the child plays sports after school, the child’s parents and pediatrician should make sure that the medication regimen reflects the change in schedule.
For older children who are interested in going on to play sports in college, there may be concern about their medication because some of the substances used to treat ADHD are on the NCAA’s list of banned substances. The NCAA will make exceptions for athletes who have documented ADHD and a medical need for the medication. For college-age athletes or high school athletes who are planning to play in college, it’s very important that their coaches and trainers know about their medication, and that all necessary documentation is turned in to prevent any issues related to its use.
Children with ADHD can benefit from sports just as much as their peers who don’t have the condition. It’s all about finding a sport they are comfortable with and enjoy playing. If you have questions about your child playing a particular sport, ask your child’s pediatrician for guidance or schedule a sports physical.
Dr. Leonard Pollack is a pediatrician seeing patients at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital and Henry Ford Medical Center – Sterling Heights.
American Family Martial Arts teaches Tang Soo Do Korean Karate for ages 3-103. American Family Martial Arts emphasizes traditional martial arts instruction. This means showing respect to the instructor, learning centuries old martial arts forms (hyung) while having fun in a clean, pleasant atmosphere. Our children’s karate programs are aligned with the stages of development. That covers physical, emotional, social and intellectual development for ages 3-14. Adults work on physical fitness in fun and challenging ways, not the same ‘ole thing class after class. Martial Arts has also proven to be an effective stress relief. Karate classes are 2 days a week and class times vary based on age and rank level. One of the super things at American Family Martial Arts you can choose which 2 days you attend!
We have super awesome martial arts birthday parties! Check out our web page for videos showing the fun times!
We’re not just kicking and punching. We have fun events like Nerf Wars, Water Gun parties, Parent’s Night Out, Halloween parties and more! We also hold charity fundraisers and Women’s Self Defense classes.
The children’s programs at American Family Martial Arts teach respect, discipline, focus, self defense, stranger danger, and bully defense. Children can start as young as age 3 and are in a program called Tiny Tigers for ages 3 & 4. Children ages 5 & 6 are in a 45 min class called Little Ninjas. Four days a week, we have classes for ages 7 to adult.
Give us a call at 225.272.5425 to schedule your complimentary classes!