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Why your child with ADHD or learning challenges should play sports

on June 14, 2013
Sports and games

Sports and games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are the obvious reasons such as learning team work, running off excessive energy, and developing social skills. Some least expected gains from participating in sports might shock you. Did you know most high school and college programs are required to monitor grades? Due to the high demands of eligibility to play sports many schools offer afterschool tutoring programs for athletes. Coaches become very proactive to keep players’ grades in safe zones. Often coaches will spend time mentoring and providing guidance during tough academic times for struggling athletes.

Another less known benefit of participating in sports comes from spotting learning challenges by the way students respond. As a special education teacher, my husband, a coach, would talk to me about a situation observed while a student was running a play. I have stepped in to lend my area of expertise. Some of the issues found were vision perception problems, eye-hand coördination, and undiagnosed dyslexia. A playbook is not always easily read and learned by students with hidden disabilities. I have often stepped in to color code and adapt playbooks for football players.

Athletes with some visual perception problems will often shy away from fast balls coming directly towards them. Working with the Wii gaming system can help improve the eye-hand coördination as well as the shy away response. As with all gaming systems, the sports games build in speed and skill. Having a virtual ball come at your repeatedly can help develop more confidence while building reaction time and coördination. For students who have problems with foot work, the Just Dance games can help. Even Guitar Hero helps with visual processing and eye-hand coördination. The more these areas are developed the more those skills will likely transfer to the sports field.

Team sports area great for helping children understand the importance of patience, trouble shooting, and impulse control. All players must depend on each other for a win. Even though there are those that excel more than others, all members of the team are needed for a win, even the bench warmers. Those that do not play much are needed to encourage and support. Never under-estimate the power of a positive motivating team-mate when the chips are down to pick a team back up. Many a losing team have kicked back in at the last second of the game to pull out a win due to a player’s encouragement when the majority of the team had already given up.

Being a part of team has benefits no matter the player’s level of performance. A member of a group helps build self-esteem in children who struggle due to those invisible disabilities such as ADHD, ADD, and learning disabilities. On many a playing field, the disabilities are not noticed. If they are there is often a different sort of acceptance among athletes that is not found in the classroom. Some students with such challenges often are gifted in sports which acts to balance out the struggles happening in the classroom. Having a purpose will motivate athletes to seek help in their academics in hopes to be able to keep up eligibility to move on to the next level. Often colleges hire learning specialist to help with the transition from high school to college level academics. Knowing there are people willing to help and guide an athlete towards making the grades will keep the athlete from becoming depressed. Depressed students with learning and behavior challenges often seek negatives to fill the emptiness and discouragement. This is a downward spiral leading to jail or worse. In my experience as a high school coach’s wife I have seem many lives changed for the positive due to sports. I have also witnessed the downfall of those who dropped out of sports resulting in negative and harmful alternatives.

If you questions the benefits of sports for students with ADHD/ADD and learning challenges trying search the internet for professional athletes with ADHD and learning challenges. Read the hundreds of stories about how sports saved lives and built self-esteem.

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One response to “Why your child with ADHD or learning challenges should play sports

  1. engagekids says:

    Reblogged this on Engage ADHD and commented:
    A great article on the benefits of sport for ADHD and learning

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