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Sports Physicals

Playing sports is a great way to have fun and stay fit. If you play sports, you may need to get a sports physical. A sports physical is a visit to the doctor to make sure it’s safe to play the sport you want to play. Sports physicals aren't just for kids. Even sports superstars need to go to the doctor to make sure they are ready to perform at their best.

What Happens During a Sports Physical?

There are two main parts to a sports physical: your medical history and the physical exam.

Your medical history includes questions about:

  • any medical problems, illnesses, and injuries you have had, such as asthma, COVID-19, or a broken leg
  • medicines or diet supplements you take
  • medical problems that run in your family (for example, has anyone in your family had heart trouble?)
  • whether you've ever had a concussion or passed out, felt dizzy, or felt pain in your chest during exercise

You should fill out the form with your mom or dad, so the answers are correct. Your doctor may ask more questions during the exam.

During the physical exam, the doctor will:

  • measure how tall you are
  • check how much you weigh
  • check your blood pressure
  • listen to your heart and lungs
  • check your eyesight
  • examine your muscles, bones, and joints

This visit is also your chance to ask questions about your health, diet, and playing sports.

What If the Doctor Thinks Something Is Wrong?

The good news is that almost all kids can play the sports they want to play. If you have a health problem, the doctor may prescribe medicine, do more tests, or recommend treatment, like physical therapy, to help you play your sport safely. Rarely, the doctor may find that an athlete can’t play their sport. That doesn’t mean you can’t play any sports, though. For example, if you have had a lot of concussions, you might not be able to play football, but you could play another sport, like tennis.

Where Can I Get a Sports Physical?

Most kids should go to their regular doctor's office to get a sports physical, since your doctor knows you and your health history best. Some kids may get their sports physicals at school.

Your parent can make an appointment for your sports physical. It's a good idea to do it at least 6 weeks before the sports season starts, so make sure to plan ahead. Even if you get a sports physical, it's still a smart idea to have a yearly checkup too.

After you've had your physical and the doctor gives you the OK, you can start the fun part: becoming the best athlete you can be!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2022