Coaching Dyslexic Athletes Part II

Coaching Dyslexic Athletes Part II

A few years back I wrote a blog post on Coaching Dyslexics that caught the eye of Darius Namdaran from Bullet Proof Acadamy and the Dyslexia Explored podcast.  Darius recently had me as a guest speaker on his 100th episode.  It was a great conversation which I invite you to listen to here:  Dyslexia Explored #100 with Sophia Gomma

Below is a summary of some of the tips we spoke of for Coaches, Parents, and the Dyslexic Athlete.



    • Dyslexics are non-verbal conceptualization thinkers, they think in pictures and feelings.
    • When working with your athletes, ensure they understand the meaning of your sports specific vocabulary.
    • Think about how you are giving directions, remember that orientation can be confusing when you are on the sidelines and they are out on the field.
    • Just because someone isn’t looking at you when you speak, doesn’t mean they are not engaged and listening.
    • When new to the game or you as a coach some of your athletes will need a bit more processing time what you’re are asking them to do, so breathe a moment before verbal correction (either pulling out of the game or redirecting) BUT do know, that with time this will go away.
    • Most dyslexics need meaning and understanding of the “why” when integrating and bring new information to the long-term memory.
    • Clipboard plays can be disorienting, so make sure you athletes are familiar with how you use it before a big game.
    • Use visuals on the field/court when giving directions, words like left, right, east, up court can all be very confusing.
    • Dyslexics are usually very motivated and want to learn but can often have low self-esteem due to difficulties they have had in school.  Having your team “try” is more powerful than motivating them thru praise and or criticism i.e. telling them they are already good at that or are bad at something else, is not a powerful motivator.  Telling your team to “try” something and then praise with “wow, you really must have tried hard at that, I see your effort” will be more effective.


    • Get buy-in from your child before you ever speak with a coach.
    • Remember coaches most often don’t have educational backgrounds or understand dyslexia.
    • Let the coach know that your child thinks in pictures and works well with knowing the why and big picture before looking into the details.


    • Advocate for yourself.
      • If you are someone who can’t look at someone in the eyes when they are explaining something, make sure you explain to your coach that looking away allows you to visualize and create what they are saying in your mind.
      • If you need more time to process, let your coach know it.
      • If you are confused by the plays being assigned, ask for clarification – or tell your coach back what you do understand — explain those pictures in your mind.
    • Do your research.  Get to know your sport, look up YouTube videos, know the vocabulary.
    • Do some mental training.
      • Find your focused or grounded place and learn how to get back there.  How do you get into your zone?
      • Do some self-reflection.  What do I do when I get angry, confused, nervous?  What can I do to help myself during those situations?