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Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

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Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Footy_dad on 28/06/18, 12:22 pm

Searched through these forums as well as general "google" searches but cant find much info... We have a little guy (just turned 7) who loves the game, somewhat talented (based on comparisons), ultra competitive but struggles maintaining focus primarily while training but on occasion during a match.  He's been playing competitively for 2 1/2 years now and has played up some seasons and with normal age some as well.  Doing both now...  

As his dad, its tough to watch him lose focus during training and I've received feedback from a couple of his coaches that "when he is locked in" he is great.  When he is not, it is challenging.  (God bless his patient coaches!)  Some have said "be patient" they "grow out of it" but it is obvious to his parents that he may deal with it better later but will most likely not grow out of it.  

We are afraid that he will start getting "marked" as an impulsive or non-focused kid and lose opportunities because of it.  We are already starting to see it happen within our current club even though all of the players and parents on his team love him and acknowledge that from a talent perspective he is the top player, scoring most of the teams goals and helps control the flow of games (when playing in own age group).  However, when it comes to being selected to play for the "top team" he needs more "focus" or he needs to "mature"...

Also, I'm not one of those "rose colored" glasses parents either... I've competed with teams on a national level and as an individual at the international level.  I'm probably harder on him than anyone else, so says the wifey!  Smile  Honestly, I wouldnt want to coach him most of the time so I'm not denying what is in front of us, thinking that little johnny is getting the shaft.  Plus, at this age, I could care less about him playing for the "top team" (what ever that means) but he knows what is going on and questions why.  When I tell him he needs to focus more he tries but cant maintain it long.  

I'm hear seeking advice from you parents or coaches... First, we dont medicate him for a simple reason... We've been scared to lose his "spirit" but we are starting to be open to it now that we see that it is causing him some issues while playing the sport that he loves!  

If any of you have dealt with this please DM/PM me.  Have any of you used medication without negative impacts on and off the pitch?  Do they get better with time and do we just need to enjoy this journey be patient?  Just looking for words of wisdom to help us...

Sorry for the long post!


Last edited by Footy_dad on 28/06/18, 01:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Lefty on 28/06/18, 12:58 pm

Footy_dad wrote:Searched through these forums as well as general "google" searches but cant find much info... We have a little guy (just turned 7) who loves the game, someone talented (based on comparisons), ultra competitive but struggles maintaining focus primarily while training but on occasion during a match.  He's being playing competitively for 2 1/2 years now and has played up some seasons and with normal age some as well.  Doing both now...  

As his dad, its tough to watch him lose focus during training and I've received feedback from a couple of his coaches that "when he is locked in" he is great.  When he is not, it is challenging.  (God bless his patient coaches!)  Some have said "be patient" they "grow out of it" but it is obvious to his parents that he may deal with it better later but will most likely not grow out of it.  

We are afraid that he will start getting "marked" as an impulsive or non-focused kid and lose opportunities because of it.  We are already starting to see it happen within our current club even though all of the players and parents on his team love him and acknowledge that from a talent perspective he is the top player scoring most of the teams goals and helps control the flow of games (when playing in own age group).  However, when it comes to being selected to play for the "top team" he needs more "focus" or he needs to "mature"...

Also, I'm not one of those "rose colored" glasses parents either... I've competed with teams on a national level and as an individual at the international level.  I'm probably harder on him than anyone else, so says the wifey!  Smile  Honestly, I wouldnt want to coach him most of the time so I'm not denying what is in front of us, thinking that little johnny is getting the shaft.  Plus, at this age, I could care less about him playing for the "top team" (what ever that means) but he knows what is going on and questions why.  When I tell him he needs to focus more he tries but cant maintain it long.  

I'm hear seeking advice from you parents or coaches... First, we dont medicate him for a simple reason... We've been scared to lose his "spirit" but we are starting to be open to it now that we see that it is causing him some issues while playing the sport that he loves!  

If any of you have dealt with this please DM/PM me.  Have any of you used medication without negative impacts on and off the pitch?  Do they get better with time and do we just need to enjoy this journey be patient?  Just looking for words of wisdom to help us...

Sorry for the long post!  

I sympathize with you and wish you and your son the best of luck.

My personal, non-medical opinion, is I would not consider medicating anyone over something as meaningless as youth soccer.

If there are other things in his life that may lead in the direction of medication then that is you and your doctors decision.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Footy_dad on 28/06/18, 01:26 pm

Thanks Lefty... Prob should have added some context around other areas... At home we just 'deal' with it as its not that bad us in our normal daily routines. Takes some patience but we cope. School has been challenging but teachers say he is really smart just has some impulsive times and his "motor" runs all day which leads to attention issues which can then lead to disrupting others... That's were we are today(public)... previously, we've been asked to leave a private school. So, our sample size is small as it relates to school.

I think, our observations during his training sessions is opening our eyes to previous feedback from his private school. We probably had our "rose colored" glasses on in that situation... Now that I see it in my domain (sports) we are struggling with how to move forward.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Zizou on 28/06/18, 02:25 pm

Definitely see a doctor for this type of information, but a low dose of a time released medication could help here.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by soccerhuh18 on 28/06/18, 04:39 pm

I have an almost 9 year old daughter. We’re in your boat, but I feel like I might be able to shed a little light, since we are a little further down the road. She’s going into 4th, and was officially diagnosed in 2nd, but we’ve kind of known that she has ADHD since she was a toddler. Through her first season of academy soccer and about 6 other sports that she has played here and there since she was 4, we have dealt with the maddening attention issues with no medication. Every kid is different, and some respond better to certain activities over others, but soccer has seemed to have the greatest benefit for ours, just for the activity level and energy it burns. It has been REALLY hard for me to separate what she can control and what she can’t, and it has been a huge learning experience, trying to balance high expectations with patience and grace. We have been lucky to have great coaches who love and understand our daughter for who she is, and can see what she is capable of in spite of the ADHD. She has been on medication since the beginning of third grade, so almost a year, because of school. Medication outside of the school day has taken some trial and error, and we’ve made a few discoveries. First, a lot of ADHD meds can cause kids to overheat, so it’s a no go for her during the hot months. Second, her medication allows her to focus and calms her down, but that muted her best qualities as a player, which is her fearlessness and aggressive personality. However, evening practices are easier because she took her meds for school and they’ve worn off just enough for her to get the energy back. The best piece of advice I can give you, based on my experience, is to keep your son’s struggles in perspective. My daughter’s coach had to essentially tell me that I needed to back off, because she was having anxiety and it was affecting her desire to play. No talking about the game in the car etc. I stopped criticizing and started only supporting and it was like night and day. There are some things that they can’t help. Their little brains just don’t work the same as other kids, therefore we can’t expect them to just be able to pay attention and focus as easily as the other kids. It does get easier! I can tell, even without medication, that my daughter is starting to mature and be able to pay attention for longer periods. 7 was the hardest year!! And she’s discovered a love for playing in goal, which has reignited her love for the sport. He may struggle, like mine, with why other kids can focus but he can’t. We are very open with our daughter about ADHD, and she clearly understands that it’s not an excuse for anything, but that some things are always going to be a little harder for her. Hope this helps.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by soccerhuh18 on 28/06/18, 04:52 pm

One more thing. Playing up is not a great idea for a lot of kids with ADHD. Their brains are behind, social/emotional development-wise, 2-3 years, so it creates an even bigger gap with kids who are a year or two older.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Footy_dad on 28/06/18, 05:38 pm

Soccer Huh- thank you for sharing your experiences! We sure have a long way to go but Grace is something that we have been learning through this! I think you’re right about having a coach who looks beyond it and sees potiential and who understands.

From our experience he interacts better with the older kids than the younger ones his age. It seems like the more focused the other players are the more focused he can be. When he ora Rice’s with his own age there are more distractions but that could just be how we see it. He needs to be challenged so that could be it as well. If he isn’t challenged he wonders off, if he is challenged too much or had to think too much he shuts down. It’s like he needs to be challenged but at the same time he needs more reps than the others.

Again, thank you so much for sharing!

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by soccerhuh18 on 28/06/18, 05:48 pm

Footy_dad wrote:Soccer Huh- thank you for sharing your experiences!  We sure have a long way to go but Grace is something that we have been learning through this!  I think you’re right about having a coach who looks beyond it and sees potiential and who understands.  

From our experience he interacts better with the older kids than the younger ones his age.  It seems like the more focused the other players are the more focused he can be.  When he ora Rice’s with his own age there are more distractions but that could just be how we see it.  He needs to be challenged so that could be it as well.  If he isn’t challenged he wonders off, if he is challenged too much or had to think too much he shuts down.  It’s like he needs to be challenged but at the same time he needs more reps than the others.  

Again, thank you so much for sharing!  
It’s definitely a balancing act. Ours is taller/bigger and intellectually more advanced than most of her peers, but has just started to catch up socially/emotionally, which has been one of the biggest challenges. That’s why great coaches/teachers are key!!


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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Marvelousmar on 29/06/18, 12:17 am

Interesting topic, Having coached a couple of kids with the various levels of alphabet soup and not being a fan of medication and having an interdisciplinary degree and being married to a teacher. There are some kids who need medication, not for soccer but for life. It took me many years to realize that. I do believe some are medicated to soon. Having seen some become virtual zombies on the field when medicated and seeing the some of the most extreme case child solve the issue its a tough one and each case is different. Generally I do believe they grow out of it. Generally my Alphabet soup kids when provided a specific task on the field do it wonderfully. You have to keep them locked in by giving them something specif to do. ( Man mark for example) Each match I would provide them a specif task things worked out well, when I let them be .. well let's just say and thy know who they are I got a lot of grey hairs from a bunch of them....
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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by MurderWasTheCase on 29/06/18, 07:09 am

No one grows out of it, this is a common misconception and stigma that surrounds people with ADHD.

Myth #2: Children can outgrow ADHD. If left untreated, ADHD continues into adulthood. However, by developing their strengths, structuring their environments, and using medication when needed, children with ADHD can grow up to be adults leading very productive lives.


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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Marvelousmar on 29/06/18, 08:18 am

MurderWasTheCase wrote:No one grows out of it, this is a common misconception and stigma that surrounds people with ADHD.

Myth #2: Children can outgrow ADHD. If left untreated, ADHD continues into adulthood. However, by developing their strengths, structuring their environments, and using medication when needed, children with ADHD can grow up to be adults leading very productive lives.


Let me correct my statement about grow out of it. I should be saying grows to learn how to cope with it. I think to be fair everyone has various levels of Attention issues. I also believe that it has gotten worse in our highly electronic focus microwave world that we leave in. I think the pendulum has swung so much in this area. Where we either have diagnosed every kid with a title that gives them a stigma and over medicate to the point now where we almost seem afraid to do anything to help the child. I think we are still searching for that balance.
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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Zizou on 29/06/18, 09:33 am

Communication with the child developing coping skills to be used to help insure growing success. Communication with the coach to trigger the use of these coping mechanisms when needed. Working with a doctor needing communication from the player, coach and parent to correctly medicate a kid with a dose that benefits the child. All this being said, it is forever changing and needs to be revisited regularly to ensure success.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by SoccerMomof2#10 on 29/06/18, 01:09 pm

Our son has ADHD too. I've known from a very early age and faced a lot of the same issues that you seem to. The past two to three months we have seen a lot of improvement, so have the coaches. I think the only thing we are doing differently is having a ten minute quite time before the start of practice to just transition from what he was doing into what he's about to and what is expected of him. We were very hesitant about medication, but it was one of the best choices we made. We don't give it to him on the weekends nor the summer and it wears off just as school is letting out each day, so no medicine during practice. Just incase you are looking for doctors, Texas Child Neurology in Plano is an excellent practice, they have several doctors, but Dr. So has been outstanding.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Soccer08 on 29/06/18, 03:26 pm

1st:  GREAT TOPIC!!
2nd:  I agree with everyone above!
3rd:  My daughter is ADH (Inattentive) and medication is the best thing we ever did for her socially, educationally, and athletically.  We were against it at first and wish, for her sake, we had taken the appropriate steps sooner to get her diagnosed and medication tweaked perfectly for her (which takes some time).  Marvelousmar seriously just brought tears to my eyes as he/she is the kind of coach you want for your kiddo.  He/She understands that all kids are different and how a coach can adapt to get the best out of each kid.  It's Teaching 101 really but some professors are ridged and refuse to change their teaching style.  Some kids take general direction well, some have a literal interpretation of every single word from their coaches mouth, some need very specific instruction.  A good coach will figure each kid out and coach him/her accordingly.  I HIGHLY encourage you to seek medical attention so that your boy can use it as needed throughout his life and/or until he figures out how to overcome his challenges.  I also HIGHLY recommend doing your homework on coaches in your area and get him under one that understands how best to pull out the full potential in him.  The more you surround your boy with teachers, coaches, friends, etc that support him the better, more rounded he will be in life too!  That's just my 2 cents though!  

Good luck!  It's a hard road and watching him struggle through it will also allow you to fully appreciate his achievements as he's surely to have worked VERY hard for them!!!  Smile

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Nice ball on 29/06/18, 03:50 pm

Marvelous is a great coach!!! My son has never played for him, but we have friends who's kids have played for him and absolutely love him.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by centre on 29/06/18, 07:56 pm

I'm ADHD (not diagnosed until college because we didn't really have a name for it back then) and have coached a number of kids who have various issues that affect their attention.

You've gotten some good advice, so I'll add some different items. First off, relax. You mentioned that your 7 yo has played competitively for 2 1/2 years, that you're harder on him than anyone else, and that you're afraid of losing opportunities. Forget all that stuff and let your son be 7.

Second, try to understand the condition. The way I describe it to people is like being in a sports bar and having 20 TVs on at a time. It would probably drive you nuts trying to pay attention to all of them at the same time, but it's great for me. What would be tough is to try to focus on one TV at a time or, worse, only having one TV on at a time. It can be an ability or a disability depending on how you set things up. Hyperfocus is also a feature of the condition. That's what the coaches described about him in a "locked in" state.

Third, control what you can control. Diet and sleep are big. For kids that take meds, it's mostly worn off by practice time anyway. If they don't sleep at night, come home from school, eat crap, and play video games for a couple hours before practice, they're going to be off the walls. Set up some structure with flexibility (rather than a rigid routine), and you'll have success.

Next, observe how different coaches handle their sessions. You can even call ahead or get recommendations like you're doing now. This age should have a lot of one ball per kid with limited talking, so it shouldn't be a huge issue. Anyone who has coached has dealt with issues, and some have great ways of handling this. I had a group with that had some attention issues. Anytime I needed to address them, I'd have ALL of them take two steps back from their ball, and sit with their hands behind their back. That kept the two ADHD kids from kicking the ball or poking their teammates when I was talking. There are a lot of work-arounds like that. When he gets older, consider coaching style, style of play (direct=YES, possession=not so much), and other stuff.

Good coaches can also differentiate with skills being taught. I had a young player that couldn't do anything more complex than changing direction or pace. I'd set him off to practicing one or two items while the rest worked on whatever. Any guesses what happens when a kid works really really really hard on only two things?

Finally, give the coach the elevator speech on what's up, then walk away and let that person coach. Your son won't be the first kid who experiences the world differently. Let them figure it out together. Your son will be fine, and so will you.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by MomOnTheGo on 29/06/18, 08:35 pm

@ Footy_Dad - I SO understand where you are....been there with my first born - and again with the second.  Experience comes AFTER you need it, so I feel you.  @centre.... ^^ great advice.  

With our #1 - Diagnosed when he was 7 yo as well; his school work was suffering since his inattentiveness caused him to miss key concepts.  Put that on a  field and LORD - he could not tell you what the coach told him to do!  But, as Centre commented, he could hyperfocus on things and would excel.  We were against meds too and tried the natural Omega 3 route; did not see much improvement after six months, so we needed to explore meds.  Consulting with experts at Scottish Rite, they explained there were many classes of ADHD/ADD drugs and it truly is a trial and error for each kid. Stimulant, non-stimulant, low dose, high dose...it is overwhelming.  And what works now may need to be changed 18 months later!  But what the doc at Scottish Rite said that stuck with me was the meds will allow his mind to calm down and RECEIVE the information - be it school work, sports, etc.  It basically gave him a fighting chance to learn new concepts, apply, practice, and perfect.  That eased our concerns on "medicating our kid".

We quickly saw the same situation with #2, but she could verbalize it - "I got lost in my mind" - when we would ask her about school, chores around the house, soccer, etc.  Meds were the first course of action when we saw she was lagging behind terribly in Kinder.

Fast-forward today, my son is a Soph in HS and daughter is in 6th grade.  And it is still a tweaking where we know it takes 3 hours for her meds to kick in, where as our son, give it about an hour and he can dial in.  Bottom-line, your pediatrician should be your first stop if you are going the Rx route.  Ours does a med check in 30 days anytime we make a change (new dose, new Rx), and a mandatory 6 month med check when we need a refill.  She monitors it closely and if we voice concerns, we talk about what we see working versus not.

And they won't outgrow it - but rather learn to manage it.  Hang in there.  Feel free to PM me w/ any ?'s
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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by MurderWasTheCase on 29/06/18, 10:19 pm

For those of you that went the medication route, have you noticed any stunts in growth? My fear is medications to help control ADHD have severe side effects like loss of appetite and slows growth.

This is tough

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by MomOnTheGo on 29/06/18, 10:33 pm

Both eat a good breakfast before meds kick in. Son's appetite is suppressed but by the time he gets home from school, he makes up for his minimal lunch. (We go through 4 gallons of milk a week!) No appetite suppressant for my DD. Neither had issues with stunted growth. Both are growing as expected!
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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Zizou on 29/06/18, 10:35 pm

Studies say no that meds do not stunt a child’s growth, but I do see a concern with a child’s reduced appetite that they are receiving the proper nutrition to maintain an athletes active life style.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Footy_dad on 02/07/18, 12:43 pm

Thank each of you for your replies. This helps tremendously. We have an appointment with his pedi this week and will start there. One thing that we can see, like others have mentioned is diet and sleep have a major impact on him. The cleaner more nutritious he eats along with a good amount of sleep goes a long way. (Heck I think we all could benefit from this) He's not a good eater and he doesnt sleep well at night so the thoughts of taking medicine that impacts one or both of those is hard to think about!

Also, we are kind of "strict" parents... He doesn't have a gaming system nor does he get much screen time. Maybe 1-2 hours a week at most unless we are watching soccer. lol! I was actually thinking that allowing him to play certain games might help but dont really want to go there unless a medical professional advises it.

Centre, you're right! I (we) do need to relax when it comes to his soccer. I stop and ask myself often, why we get a little anxiety around it!

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by rocketpop on 30/07/18, 02:50 pm

My son who is 15 has ADHD.  I have noticed over the years that his loss of focus depends on how practices are structure or lack of structure.  The less structured they are, the more likley he would loss focus.  His practices now are so structure he rarely loss focus.

The key here is to have open communication with the coach.  Our coach is aware of my son condition. He is quick to refocus my son if sees him not focusing on what they are doing.

Medication does not seem to have effect any his grown,  he was always one of the smallest before meds, but has now started to catch up with his team even though he is on meds today.  He has never been a big eater so its hard to tell if that med related to his eating habits now or not.

Point is work closely with you child, doctor, and coach.  Finding the right meds will take some time to get the right type and dosage.  We meet with the doctor every 3 to 6 month and make adjustments if needed.

As far as playing soccer with ADHD, he currently plays Classic D2.  He also has a great mentor and private coach were he gets one on one train.

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Re: Looking for advise from those who have players with ADHD

Post by Coats Performance- KC on 28/08/18, 10:12 am

Thanks for sharing and hopefully you've been able to find alternatives that have helped.

I am a bit late on this post, but from experience with others, focusing on nutrition and sleep have been a major X-factor.
--Some ideas that have helped others (I am not a nutritionist)
- Eliminating a lot of the popular breakfast cereals/snacks that are highly processed and loaded with artificial sweeteners.
- Increasing daily fruit and veggie intake.
- Increase water consumption

- Sleep- Here is a blog I wrote that will shed light on the importance of eliminating blue light (Tv, Cell phone, etc.) before bed, which will play a major role in the quality of sleep. https://coatsperformance.com/2017/07/06/blue-light-sleep-cancer-and-sports-performance/

Hope this helps and feel free to send me a dm/pm if you have further questions

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