Boy with soccer ball

Oct 25, 2018 / Sports Medicine

Sports can benefit children with ADHD

How are ADHD, sports and concussions linked? How can parents best guide their children to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, while calculating the benefits versus possible risks of participating in sports?
For children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sports can offer an outlet for excess energy and help the child focus, but they can also come with a higher risk of injury. 

Sports medicine physician Shane M. Miller, M.D. spoke with DFW Child about the relationship between youth sports and ADHD. Miller also discussed concerns about a higher injury risk for children with ADHD, and wants parents to know the following when deciding whether to sign their kid up for athletics:
  • Reinforce positive behavior to help your athlete recognize accomplishments that motivates him or her to remain focused on the goals.
    “There are tremendous benefits to athletics for all children, and that doesn’t change for children with ADHD.”
  • Try to minimize distractions, when possible to prevent your athlete from getting distracted by unrelated sounds and movement.
    “While there is evidence that athletes with ADHD are at a higher risk for injury than athletes without ADHD, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should keep your child on the bench.” 
  • Provide simple directions to help your athlete focus on one piece of information at a time.
    “In many cases, playing a sport can help a child with ADHD maintain attention, as athletic movements involving agility, balance and coordination often require intense focus.”
  • Provide consistency in daily routines to help your athlete stay on task and remember his or her responsibilities.
    “In fact, it has been found that even a short bout of exercise can eliminate distractions and help children with ADHD perform better on academic tasks. Many children with ADHD actually see an improvement in grades once they begin playing sports on a regular basis.”
  • Try several sports to help your athlete find a sport that is fun and motivates him or her to be active.
    “We encourage early sport sampling—trying a lot of different sports early on in their childhood to see what suits their abilities and interests. From there, it’s a matter of finding the right sport for your child’s abilities and understanding the precautions that you should take to minimize the risk of injury.”

Finding the right activity and creating the right environment may take some time, but is an important step in understanding the precautions you may need to take.
Read more of the Dallas Child article featuring Dr. Miller.

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