WYC 166 – Invisible Differences – Susan Stout – Bring out the best in athletes with ADHD, learning differences, and/or anxiety

Susan Stout educates coaches specifically about working with kids who have ADHD, learning differences and/or anxiety.

As a former swim coach and now a mom to an avid young athlete with ADHD and dyslexia, Susan wishes she had known when she was coaching what she knows now about how to recognize the differently wired kids, manage the challenges and bring out the best in these athletes.

Website: ownbeatathlete.com

Twitter: @SusanStoutOBA


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Finding invisible differences

  • It all starts with just getting to know each kid
  • Some symptoms to look for:
    • Can’t sit still
    • Talk back
    • Interrupt
    • Can’t remember what you just said, especially with multi-step directions
    • Inconsistent in their performance
    • Poor sense of time (can be late)
    • Poor emotional control

Practical tips to coach kids with invisible differences

  • Don’t talk for long periods of time(no diatribes!)
  • Routines help
  • Give them a responsibility to keep them engaged
  • Let them fidget and move
  • Try to be patient – give them a minute to cool off

Own Beat Athlete

  • Website: ownbeatathlete.com
  • Blogs, profiles of successful players and coaches with ADHD, letters from players
  • Tools for coaches and facts to know about kids with invisible differences

Cringe moment

  • When Susan was first coaching, they lost a meet because the backstroke flags were the wrong distance. Susan was worried about over-coaching girls who had previously been her teammates. She learned she needed to be the coach first and not worry about trying to impress them or be their buddy.

Keeping training fun

  • Relay races are always a great way to compete and have fun while conditioning

Achieving peak performance under pressure

  • They start meets with cheering and getting energy up. Then she would have the athletes come and check in with her before their events to chat one-on-one. The coaching is finished at this point – instead reinforce them and tell them – ‘you’ve done it, the work is done, now go have fun and show what you can do’

The one that got away

  • As a swimmer, for 3 years Susan was trying to break 36 seconds. 3 times she got 36.00. She still had a great time, just wishes she could have got a 35.99. 🙂

Best stolen idea

  • Building a culture of being a family.

Favorite books/quote:

  • Quote: ‘A common mistake amongst those working in sports is to spend a disproportionate amount of time on X’s and O’s as compared to time spent learning about people.’ – Coach K
  • Quote: ‘When I was a young coach, I used to say treat everybody alike. Instead- treat everybody fairly.’ – Bear Bryant
  • Book: Getting to Us by Seth Davis

Parting Advice

  • Build relationships. Get to know the kids, what do they dream about, what excites them, what do they like doing outside of sports.

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