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ADHD – Is it Good or Bad for Athletes?

Preserving the benefits of ADHD

Many athletes, whether they are aware of it or not, are coping with ADHD. Some have become world-class stars, such as Michael Phelps, Magic Johnson, Jason Kid, Babe Ruth and many others. According to various researchers, some of the people coping with the syndrome are characterized by creativity, flexibility of thought, ability to deal with chaotic situations and multi-tasking abilities.

Does this mean that the syndrome is a sporting advantage for those who cope with it? not exactly.

ADHD is a syndrome that raises many difficulties for those who deal with it, in all areas of their lives, and sport is no exception. During the post we will see examples of how the syndrome can make it difficult for athletes to fulfill their potential. On the other hand, if you are aware that the athlete is coping with the syndrome, it can be treated in various ways, such as neurocognitive training.

Proper treatment can enable athletes to overcome the typical ADHD symptoms and to express their unique brain patterns on court, so it will become an advantage.

So let's get started and see what it means to be an athlete with ADHD.

Studies suggest that many ADHD children must be on the move. That's why they tend to play sports, and in some cases even excel in it. They do this because the sport provides a response to their unceasing need for movement, and the thrill of competitive sports often serves as a stimulant and focusing agent.

Another reason, unknown to many parents, is the strict discipline demanded by competitive sports. Children with ADHD lack an internal behavior regulator and the external regime they have to obey in order to succeed in sports, is a kind of external menstruation. This regulator has a direct effect on them, because it nourishes their sense of pleasure and self-satisfaction. When this happens, their intrinsic motivation increases miraculously.

The famous athletes I mentioned above have a champions' personality structure and some have also gained unique growth hotbeds. In their case, ADHD became an advantage, which they learned to use. On the other hand, it is not difficult to estimate that for every athlete who has succeeded despite their ADHD, there are dozens who have failed because of their ADHD. ADHD also means attention deficit problems, difficulty in transitions between different attention types and self-control, decision making and organizational skills impairments. Not everyone is lucky enough to have the personality structure and growth incubator that turn ADHD into an advantage.

What do we mean when we talk about ADHD?

First one must examine what ADHD is all about. ADHD is not a lack of attentiveness but, inter alia, inconsistency in attention and inability to pause action, until the brain processes its possible consequences. This is why children with ADHD find it difficult to learn from previous negative experience, and tend to repeat their mistakes. According to Dr. Russell Barkley, a psychiatrist and a global ADHD expert, these children also have a problem with working memory, low linguistic abilities, motivation problems and so forth.

Barkley concludes that these problems stem from a failure of the motor functions in the frontal lobe. He also attributes the difficulty of dealing with distractions to a motor problem, rather than to a sensory problem - as opposed to cases of autism, for example.