An Essential Guide to Sports Physical Exams

Sports physical exams are an essential part of pediatric care and a requirement in numerous states. They usually occur when kids and teens plan to start a physical sport or before a new season. For young children, this may seem unnecessary, but physical exams can be an excellent opportunity to address any concerns or issues that may affect your child’s ability to participate fully in his/her chosen sport.

Why are sports physical exams necessary?

In many states, sports physical exams are a legal requirement, and your child will be unable to participate until they have passed the exam. The primary goal of these exams is to make sure that your child is healthy enough to play and that they will not be at any extra risk as a result.

Regardless of whether the state requires a physical exam, we recommend that your child has one if they plan to play any sports at school.

What is a sports physical exam?

Sports physical exams usually involve two parts that will give the pediatrician a clear picture of your child’s overall health and identify any risk factors.

An Essential Guide to Sports Physical Exams


Medical History: The pediatrician will ask about any preexisting medical conditions such as allergies, asthma, and diabetes. Also, they will ask about any serious family illnesses and any medications that your child is currently taking.

Physical Exams: The pediatrician will perform a thorough physical exam to check for any problems with joints, vision, and blood pressure. For teens, the doctor will check if any issues related to puberty may have an adverse impact.

Is it just like a regular physical exam?

There are similarities, but the main difference is that the doctor will be able to give specific advice and recommendations related to the sports your child is playing or planning to play. For example, if your child has asthma, the doctor can check their current medication and give some breathing tips.

There are many other areas where the doctor will be able to assist your child with their athletic life. The doctor will be able to advise you on measures to protect your child from risk factors related to allergies or recommend suitable protective wear for any preexisting injuries.

How often should my child have a sports exam?

As a general guideline, they should occur once a year, but your pediatrician will be able to further advise you when you attend your initial appointment.

When should my child have their exam?

It is important that you allow enough time between the physical exam and the start of the season. If any issues are found during the physical, it will take time for treatment and follow-up appointments to occur. This will obviously delay clearance to play, so bear this in mind when scheduling your child’s appointment.

Need more help?

Feel free to call us today to discuss any questions you may have about sports physical exams or any other areas of concern regarding your child’s health and well-being.