ADHD and Athletes

What are some of the negative and positive impacts of ADHD on an athlete?

Negative impacts:

  • Poor concentration and memory deficits may cause academic difficulties that could threaten the academic eligibility of collegiate athletes.
  • Reduced inhibition of incorrect response may explain why the athlete make frequent and successive errors of the same type in complex sports situations.
  • Athletes with ADHD may be less able to flexibly shift their working memory and limit their success in competitive sports.
  • ADHD is commonly comorbid with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance use disorders that may in themselves impair performance.
  • Unstable emotions or emotional dysregulation associated with ADHD may lead to interpersonal conflict within the team or negatively impact others impressions of the athlete eg. By the coach, GMs etc..

Positive impacts:

  • Inherent impulsivity of the athlete may enhance quick movements and reactive decision-making
  • Many people with ADHD are reported to highly focus on enjoyable activities which may help the athlete block out distractions during practice and competition.