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ADHD and the Motocross Athlete

by Coach Seiji

And you thought steroid use by athletes was controversial. What about the idea of non-ADHD kids taking ADHD stimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin to enhance their academic performance? Apparently it's happening more and more, especially among college-age males--the drugs sharply help with focus and make you need less sleep. - The New Yorker

I recently attended the annual American College of Sports Medicine Annual meeting in Baltimore, MD. Every year, I attend this meeting (where I am certain to be the only motocross trainer present) and take as much of the cutting edge knowledge home with me that I can.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder only affects 5% of the worldwide population but this rate can climb up to 70% in professional athletes in certain sports. Casual observation amongst my clients shows near or above this rate and I have struggled with ADHD myself.

Here are my brief take home messages on the conference I attended concerning ADHD and professional athletes:

  • ADHD statistics show increased lifetime possibility of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, divorce, difficulty in employment and education attainment and motor vehicle accidents.
  • Can be acquired from traumatic brain injury but it's mostly genetic.
  • ADHD may increase chances of concussion.
  • ADHD can help in sports due to characteristic impulsiveness and hyper focus on tasks that are interesting.
  • Some ADHD drugs are stimulants; can cause benefits in sports performance.
  • Use of stimulant based ADHD drugs during competition is prohibited by international governing bodies. Use of non stimulant ADHD drugs in competition and training is allowed by most governing bodies.
  • ADHD drug use can be tailored to the sport and practice/racing. Drugs should be used when focus is required for directed and learned skills. This would be the case in most training and motocross practice days. Drugs are better off not being used when impulsiveness improves performance. This would be the case for racing. You want to ride by feel and have riding become a set of reactions NOT directed movements. Better to be off the medication for this. Every rider must experiment to find out what works best for him or her but this format is usually the case for most athletes across most sports.
  • Stopping stimulant based ADHD drug use for competitions may cause a drop in performance if the athlete is sensitive to stimulant use. Stopping use temporarily may help aerobic performance but may undermine heat regulation so experimentation and care must be used in hot environments.

About the Author: Seiji Ishii is the head coach of provides online coaching and personal training services to motorsports athletes. Coach Seiji has worked with both pros and elite amateurs including: Heath Voss, Ryan Clark, Austin Stroupe, PJ Larsen, Hunter Hewitt, Drew Yenerich, Rusty Potter, Jason Anderson, and Andrew Short. Learn more at or contact Coach Seiji directly.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    Debra Meszaros November 09, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Coach Seiji, always love your articles. I have lots of professional experience with ADD and ADHD in young adult athletes (adults too!). Here's a really good book for a drugless solution and a "get to the root" of the problem approach: No More ADHD by Dr. Maryann Block. If you'd like to contact me directly for detailed info on helping your clients (you too!) I can possibly provide some good information. Keep up the good work!

  2. Gravatar
    Stefan November 09, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Interesting . I have noticed that alot of good motocrosses have small personality disorders / a bit hyper active but thought nothing of it.

  3. Gravatar
    matt November 09, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I have pretty bad add to the point that doctors say they do not know how I am in college. I struggle to get good grades but as soon as I get out on a track my focus is better than ever. I always wondered about the correlation and have heard such things before. My reaction to avoid people in front of me is better than most. I am prescribed adderall but prefer not to take the stimulant based medication while riding, makes me feel weird and makes my heart race.

  4. Gravatar
    Coach Seiji November 10, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks for the positive comments. I will have to check that book out. I am in CA right now and this exact topic is being discussed with a rider here. Deciding on a treatment path, drug vs. non drug, etc. Again, thanks.

    -Coach Seiji

  5. Gravatar
    Albert N. Bradshaw IV November 12, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I am very interested in this topic. I was an "ok" student in high school, I was on the honor roll all four years of high school. I liked riding motorcycles as my favorite sport in high school, although I played most all available sports. However, I received a Traumatic brain injury in 1986. I lost allot of my cognative skills, but I have road a few friends bikes, and I think I still have it in me to ride bike fast over off-road and MX terain. I do have a problem with short tearm memory, and because of this I have had a hard time holding a good paying job. This results in not having enough to invest in a form of two wheeled recreation. I would like to find non-drug/medication solutions to my memory problems. I am not sure if poor memory an ADD have anything in common, but at any rate I will try to keep myself posted about the latest non-drug treatment stategies.

  6. Gravatar
    m c November 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    prescribing add/hd drugs, especially to children, is not only a money hungry scam, its downright wrong. there is little if any biological understanding of the differences in the brains of sufferers vs. non. i would even argue the entire condition itself is a load of crap. regardless, prescribing powerful stimulant medication, though shown to have some short term positive effects, has been shown in many studies to have zero long term positive effects, and often times the patients end up much worse than where they started (again especially in the developing brains of children).

  7. Gravatar
    Debra Meszaros November 16, 2010 at 4:44 pm


    I have worked with many ADD athletes and non-athletes, unless you live in Virginia..... I need to be general. Grab the book I spoke about, "No more ADD/ADHD" by Dr. Maryann Block. Additionally, here are some very common triggers for ADD: The removal of High fructose corn syrup from ones diet, (limit even fruits (fructose)) to 15 grams per day. Usually too much sugar is involved. There are also professional formulars available from Naturopaths like homeopathic attention deficit solutions. Candida overgrowth is usually present in your body, that needs to be addressed. Essential Fatty Acids are usually deficient as well in ADD individuals. Amino acid deficiency can also play a factor, not enough protein in the diet. You can explore these options.

  8. Gravatar
    caleb April 02, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Hi my name is Caleb and I need to interview someone for a research paper for 6th grade language arts on adhd. coach Seji if you can please help me email me at with your answer.


  9. Gravatar
    iceman April 02, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Hi, I am Kaden Funk 1 time 2 in the nation for hillcliming and is adhd hard for you?
    Please email the anwser at this email address
    . Thanks, Kaden

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