Sports Physicals For Children – Are They Important?


Sports physicals for children, also known as preparticipation physical examination (PPE), are a crucial part of childhood sports. It’s important for physically active children to have an annual examination tailored specifically to sports, to document injuries, mobility, flexibility, and any underlying problems. 

Read on for more information about what a sports physical examination is, why it’s important, and what it entails. 

Why Sports Physicals Are Essential For Children

Sports physicals are vital for children for many reasons. The number one reason for a sports physical is that it can uncover any underlying conditions that may prevent the child from strenuous physical activity. Anything that could pose a risk for the child would be discovered (such as a non-innocent heart murmur) and your pediatrician could help you with your next steps so that your child can still participate. This is crucial in preventing future health complications. 

Secondly, sports physicals ensure that the child is physically able to participate in the sports they desire. It’s important to realize that each type of sport comes with its own physical attributes. Not every child is equipped to handle the physical challenges that come with sports. 

A sports physical for children will also be an opportunity to discuss any known ailments that may hinder or otherwise prohibit your child from participating in sports. These could include a congenital heart defect, asthma, or skeletal issues. 

Don’t fret. If a doctor finds any of these issues, it does not necessarily mean that your child will be banned from sports. It just means that a doctor may include some limitations or modifications for your child to participate in sports. 

What To Expect During a Sports Physical

a pediatrician examining a child for her sports physical

A sports physical will mostly consist of two parts. The pediatrician will take your child’s past medical history and perform the physical exam. 

The medical history will be like most medical histories that you’ve given for yourself or your child. You’ll be asked about illnesses,family history of cardiac issues, family genetics, hospitalizations, surgeries, home life, and vaccine status

The physical examination portion will consist of a range of mobility, flexibility, joint function, heart and lung function, normal vital signs, and strength. This part of the exam is important because it’s how the pediatrician determines how fit a child is for sports participation. 

How To Prepare For Your Appointment

If your child is feeling anxious, reassure them that this is a standard procedure and should not take very long. Let them know what to expect and that this is necessary so that they can have uninterrupted fun playing their sport of choice.

Before the appointment, make sure your child is adequately rested, well hydrated, and has eaten a healthy meal. Bring any documents from the school or coach, any past relevant medical records, known allergies, and current medications. 

After The Exam

athletic child kicking a soccer ball in a field

Following the examination, your pediatrician will discuss your results. Most children will be given clearance to play the sport of their choice even if there are a few caveats. They may suggest certain modifications to the sport or changes to current medication. For example, if your child has asthma, the pediatrician may suggest a higher dose of their inhaler during sports season.

In some cases, a doctor may recommend further testing to ensure that your child will be safe during sport season. Don’t be alarmed if they need further testing. It’s just the doctor’s way of making sure your child stays safe. 

Why Use A Pediatrician?

In most cases, parents will choose their child’s current pediatrician. That means that the doctor already knows your child, their history, and their unique needs. This not only speeds up the process of approval for sports, but it affords the parent a sense of calm knowing that their child is well looked after. 

A pediatrician is well-versed in all aspects of child development and is the best type of doctor equipped to recognize underlying conditions or asymptomatic issues. A coach, school nurse, or urgent care doctor does not specialize in children and therefore are not the best advocate for your child. 

Pediatricians can also make recommendations about safety equipment, healthy lifestyle, and the best foods for performance. 


Sports physicals are not only important for children, but often a requirement for participating in school sports. Having your child checked out each season benefits their health and benefits their team. 

Parents should make these appointments at some time during the summer break so their child is ready for the forthcoming year of team sports. Parents should also check with their child’s school regarding specific date requirements.

At Kid Care Pediatrics, we are prepared to help you and your child with your sports physical. Call us for your appointment today.

Kid Care Pediatrics

Kid Care Pediatrics has been in existence since October 2001. It was established by Omar A. Gomez, M.D. The practice philosophy at Kid Care Pediatrics is to provide quality pediatric medical care for children in a professional yet caring manner.

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