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What Every Coach Needs To Know About ADHD & Athletes

This week, we are drawing attention to the first in a series of articles written for The Sprint Project by University of Birmingham MSc research student Kirsty Brown.

Informed content and reliable advice regarding ADHD & sport is currently VERY hard to come by. It's why we wanted to draw attention to Kirsty's articles - they're informed, objective, and incredibly helpful, and we feel privileged to share them with you all!

We're also very excited to follow the progress of The Sprint Project's up and coming Sport and Neurodiversity research project, and hope to draw attention to their discoveries later down the line...

Expert from article one:

What Every Coach Needs To Know About ADHD & Athletes

"This post is the first in a new series on the SPRINT project website. It will focus on what ADHD is, how to recognise its symptoms and outlines key benefits of participating in sport for people with ADHD. This understanding will help coaches to better support their athletes with ADHD to reach their full potential and experience positive mental health.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD affects 3-5% of children and 2% of adults, but these rates may be even higher in athletes. Some of the World’s most successful athletes are known to have ADHD, including for example:

  • Michael Phelps (swimmer)

  • Louis Smith (gymnast)

  • Bubba Watson (golfer)

  • Simone Biles (gymnast)

  • Ashley Mckenzie (judo)

  • and Adam Creek (rower).

Given how common ADHD is in athletes, it is important for every coach to better understand neurodiversity, or the different ways human brains may function, and the effects of ADHD. This knowledge is not only important for coaches, but anyone in the sporting support network of athletes (e.g., managers, teammates, captains and nutritionists).


ADHD is a misunderstood and complex condition, not helped by its name. The name suggests that all individuals experience the same symptoms, have a deficit in attention, and are hyperactive. Calling it a disorder implies that all the symptoms of ADHD are negative.

However, not everyone with ADHD will experience all symptoms or show them in the same way. Also, there are far more symptoms than the name suggests..."

Read the full article here

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