and neurofeedback hold tremendous
potential in sport and performance
applications to train the body and mind
to work together, but remain under
utilized. Athletes are constantly
seeking ways to enhance their
performance through physical exercise,
drills and analysis of mechanics. In
recent years, much more focus has been
placed on the mental side of competition
with coaches realizing that an athlete's
frame of mind is as important as their
An estimated 8-10% (possibly up to 20%) professional athletes have
ADHD (compared to four to eight percent of the general population of
Athletes with ADHD perform better in individualized or fast
Many athletes with Asperger's are undiagnosed and excel at
technical positions (i.e. catcher, goalie, surfing, running, martial
Many athletes who have mild to moderate ADHD/ASD are able to excel
in sports if they find the right fit. If their ADHD or Asperger's
symptoms are severe, most of them will need to be treated.
Many individuals and athletes have both ADD/ADHD and Asperger's.
The use of medications is often not allowed in most professional
Biofeedback and Neurofeedback are increasingly being used to
increase attention and socialization, while decreasing anxiety,
impulsivity and obsessiveness.
Professional Athletes with ADHD or ASD
ADHD: Michael Phelps, Terry Bradshaw,
Pete Rose, Bruce Jenner, Magic Johnson, Jackie Stewart, Babe
Ruth, Michael Jordan, Nolan Ryan, Jason Kidd, Greg Louganis,
Andy LaRoche, Alex Trevino, Derek Lowe, Scott Eyre, Tom
Asperger's: Clay Marzo (surfing), Jim Eisenreich (MLB),
NHL goalies, T. Mac (High School basketball)
What are some advantages in sports of having
Some sports do not require intense
concentration, but rather short bouts of attention (15 sec.) or
short shifts (i.e. hockey). Below are other advantages than
athletes with ADHD may have:
heighten awareness of environment
ability to do well under pressure
ability to do well in chaos (quarterback)
unique/creative problem solving (routines)
quick speed/reaction time
lack of concern about losing at the moment
quick reaction time/impulsivity if
What are some reasons to refer athletes with
ADHD to a sport psychologist experienced with ADHD?
Performing well in practice but not in games
Bored/unmotivated in practices
Performs well in unstructured situations and
poorly in important & structured situations
Performance-related anxiety (sleeplessness)
Conflicts with coaches/teammates
Forgetful (plays, outs, time remaining)
Impulsively throwing equipment/frustrated
What are some advantages of having Asperger's in
Overfocusing on technical aspects
(curveball, 3 point shoot, save technique)
Hyperfocusing & practicing for longer
periods of time
Hyperfocusing when necessary (pitcher full
count pitch, goalie shootout)
Greater ability to stay calm due to having
less emotional access
What are some reasons to refer athletes with
Asperger's or High Functioning Autism to a sport psychologist
experienced with ASD?
Difficulty with unfair/incorrect official
Difficulty with lack of structure (overtime)
and changes (being traded)
Difficulty socially bonding – often play
positions that are considered “odd/different” (i.e. goalies,
NBA player with ADHD: Kris Kaman – NBA LA
• Diagnosed ADHD as child.
• Prescribed stimulant and had negative effects.
• QEEG analysis revealed a High Beta pattern, which often
doesn’t respond to stimulant medications.
• Trained with Neurofeedback and significantly improved his
scoring and rebound average the following season.
MLB player with ADHD- assessed and trained at MPC/APC
• Diagnosed with ADHD & anxiety.
• Underachieved in college baseball first few years.
• Prescribed stimulant medication Adderall, but had side
• QEEG Map indicated high Theta (daydreaming, ADHD) & high Beta
• Trained with Neurofeedback to enhance SMR (lowers impulsivity,
increases relaxation) & inhibit Theta (increases focus) &
inhibit Beta (lowers anxiety).
• Trained with HRV and GSR biofeedback to decrease anxiety and
increase batting performance.
• Trained in the use of mental skills such as visualization.
• Results of training: more successful in college baseball,
drafted by MLB team, and playing on MLB Cincinnati Reds minor
• He spent ten years searching for accurate
• Clay was diagnosed at ALC by Dr. Michael Linden using his QEEG
Mapping subtype analysis in 2007.
• His story recently (8/4/09) featured on TV on ESPN60 (www.espn60.com),
in Outside Magazine (9/09) and in ESPN The Magazine (9/7/09) (www.espn.com)
Asperger's Athlete Clay Marzo – QEEG Map
The QEEG Brain Map below indicates increased (red) Theta (slow
activity related to inattention and impulsivity and increased
(red) Beta (fast activity related to anxiety, overfocusing and
obsessiveness. According to
Dr. Michael Linden’s
research (Attention Learning Centers), High Beta one of the most
common pattern in individuals with Asperger's.
Asperger's Athlete - Clay Marzo – QEEG Map Coherence
The figure below indicates hypercoherence (too
highly connected) in frontal Alpha brainwaves (orange) and
hypocoherence (dark blue) in right Parietal areas in many brain
frequencies. The right Parietal area of the brain is related to
many of our social and emotional functions. According to Dr.
Michael Linden’s (Attention Learning Centers) research, Right
Parietal Hypocoherence is a common pattern in individuals with