No Magic Bullet
Despite the benefits of playing sports, parents should realize that it won't affect or improve the disorder itself.
"Playing sports does not impact the core features of ADHD," says McGough. "You can't, for example, expect that your child will run off all of their energy. That's naive and ineffective."
As for medication, says Salpekar, some kids do fine without it, but most do better when they take it. "Kids often keep up much better with medicine, but it's not essential," says Salpekar. "See how it works."
The decision may also depend in part on the sport. If you have a child who wants to try football, medication may be quite useful.
"Football has a lot of detail in the plays, and kids don't do as well without medications, parents have told me," says Salpekar.
Again, McGough says, the real impact of sports will be on your child's self-esteem, confidence, and social life, all of which are crucial to build up as early as possible.
"It's part of an approach to ADHD that is underappreciated," says McGough.