Here’s why your child needs to be seen by a health care provider before the season begins. 

Joining a school sports team, community recreation league, or travel team is a great way for kids to have fun, stay in shape, and learn teamwork. But before your child can don that jersey or grab a ball, you’ll likely need to schedule a sports physical.

Most teams will require paperwork from a health care provider showing that your child is physically cleared to play their chosen sport. Some states require these physicals, but even if yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to have your child checked by a doctor to make sure he or she is healthy enough to participate safely. 

A sports physical is similar to an annual physical exam but is not exactly the same thing. You may be able to combine the two, but even if your child had a physical exam at another time, you may still need to schedule a sports physical – and vice versa. 

Here’s what to expect during this exam. 

Questions about current health, medical history, and lifestyle habits: 

  • Family history
  • Chronic illnesses, such as asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy
  • History of dizziness, fainting, headaches, or chest pain
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • High or low blood pressure 
  • Allergies 
  • Past injuries, including sprains, strains, broken bones, and concussions 
  • Previous surgeries or hospitalizations
  • Drug, alcohol, nicotine, or supplement use
  • Eating disorders
  • Current medications

Physical exam that includes:

  • Measurement of height, weight, pulse, and blood pressure
  • Exam of heart, lungs, abdomen, ear, nose, throat, vision, neurological functions, joints, flexibility, strength, and posture

Other tests may be ordered as deemed necessary, such as:

  • Bloodwork or urinalysis
  • X-rays
  • EKG

Once your child has been examined, the health care provider will determine whether he or she is cleared to play or requires modifications in order to be able to play. It’s a good idea to have the sports physical done about 6 weeks before the sports season begins in case you need to follow-up on anything. 

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Find a Family Doctor Near You
Call (716) 706-2112

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Date Last Reviewed: June 26, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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