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Wrestling: A Defense Against ADHD

By Wendy Miller:Ocala Special Needs Kids Examine, 05/25/16, 1:15PM EDT


Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Children with ADHD typically have high energy and low attention. Team sports don't generally work well for them, since they require them to pay attention and know who is doing what, when and where, and they also often require the child to stand or sit in one place for extended periods, while still paying attention so they know what's going on. That's a lot to ask of these kids sometimes.

Individual sports tend to be better suited to kids with ADHD. Wrestling is one of those sports that can work very well for this child.

One of the great things about wrestling is how welcoming it is. While other sports may have weight requirements, or demand a certain amount of skill or talent in try outs in order to play, wrestlers can be any shape or size. Weight classes keeps fairness in the competition, making skill, strength, and the sheer will to win the deciding factors in who becomes the victor.

Another unique aspect to wrestling is that unlike other sports that require constant training and proper use of acquired skills in order to facilitate a win, an inexperienced and unskilled wrestler still has a shot at winning a match if he is tough and truly as the desire to win. While practice and learning the moves and skills is always a good idea, this means that your child could potentially experience the reward of a victory early in his wrestling life, which could lead to even greater enjoyment.

Wrestling is also different in the fact that it has both a team and individual aspect to it. Wrestlers are all on a team, practice together and cheer each other on at matches. Yet each wrestler can win on his own. As Dennis Kane, Head Coach of Ocala Wrestling, says, "They don't have to be in sync with the rest of the team when they compete, because it is done on an individual basis (one match at a time)."

Coach Kane believes that wrestlers develop a quiet form of self confidence as they build their wrestling skills. When you consider that when you wrestle, you can only rely on yourself, it's easy to see how this can happen. A wrestler must believe in their skill and ability to overpower their opponent in order to win, and that requires confidence.

Coach Kane has found that when wrestlers are initially learning the sport, it can be as foreign as learning new dance steps. However, once the moves are practiced repeatedly, they eventually are committed to muscle memory. This also increases confidence. The increased confidence also builds self esteem, which Coach Kane feels is the biggest benefits of wrestling. In the case of a child with ADHD, who may often feel inadequate because of teachers and others who don't always understand the difficulties this child faces, this self esteem is definitely the biggest benefit.

Wrestling also instills discipline. According to Coach Kane, those who work hard will have the benefits of conditioning, developing balance and when needed, thinning down. Sometimes, a wrestler may have to do things that they don't really want to - working out more or eating less to meet their weight requirement, getting up early to work out, spending hours practicing and improving their skills. By doing these things that they may not enjoy very much in order to achieve the satisfaction of a victory, they learn that applying themselves and working hard will get them what they want in life, whether it is a match win or a college education.

Wrestling also teaches sportsmanship in a way that other sports aren't always able to manage. Opponents are always required to shake hands, before and after each match, and often they will embrace each other after the match, or the loser may raise the winner's hand in victory. The sport is very taxing mentally and physically, and often outsiders don't understand just how taxing it is. The understanding that wrestlers have of what they deal with in order to compete in this sport leads to an intense respect for each other, even admiration.

Even though wrestling teaches sportsmanship, it also teaches a unique form of competitiveness. Wrestlers are members of a team. However, to train for matches, the team wrestles each other. In a sense, your teammate becomes your competitor. You have to work harder: you have to beat your teammate in practice to stay on the team. You have to be better than all those in your weight class on your team in order to compete for the team. You have to train more than your opponent in a match if you want to beat them. Yet, for all that you do in order to beat those you are up against, you still respect and admire them when they beat you, because you know how hard they must have worked in order to do so, and you might even forge a few friendships.

One of the other benefits of wrestling for the ADHD child is the fact that it doesn't require a whole lot of thought. While football, soccer, or baseball all require players to consider what others might do, where others are, and what they need to do in response to anything others might do, wrestling is more instinctive. There is some thought, as you size up your opponent and try to figure out the best way to take them down, but for the most part, a good wrestler simply reacts to any situation that arises so that they can gain the advantage. This ability can help your child in other areas.

Your child will also gain knowledge of nutrition, proper dieting and weight maintenance, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Many parents find that their child's diet can either ease or increase their child's ADHD symptoms, yet they can't always pinpoint what specific foods or ingredients are doing it. The dieting knowledge they will get from wrestling will naturally lead to eating a healthier diet, one lacking the preservatives, artificial ingredients and dyes that are often the instigator of increased symptoms.

Wrestling also leads to increased speed, better balance and coordination, reflexes, strength, endurance and agility.

One last benefit that isn't often thought of is the self defense benefit. The moves learned in wrestling are moves that your child can use to keep themselves safe in the event of physical attack by a bully or other person who intends to do physical harm. This not only adds to their confidence and self esteem, but can help to ease your mind as a parent, knowing that your child has the skills to be able to defend and protect himself.

Wrestling has some huge benefits, for anyone, but especially for a child with ADHD. Coach Kane has worked with children with ADHD, so if you're looking for more information, consider contacting him. Contact information for Ocala Wrestling is:

(352) 572-7721
5000 S.E. Maricamp Road
Ocala, FL 34480