What Happens During a Sports Physical for Children?

Millions of young children play sports in the United States at least once in their lives, if not for many years. With participation in organized sports inevitably comes the sports physical exam, which can be done by any pediatrician group, to ensure each child is healthy enough to participate. If your child needs a sports physical for the first time, you may be curious as to what it entails.

What Happens During a Sports Physical for Children?

These exams are very simple, and are not meant to be challenging for any party involved. Instead, it is meant to ensure that a student does not have any previously unknown conditions or abnormalities that could make playing sports dangerous. They do this in two ways: the review of medical history, and the physical examination.

Medical History

A trained pediatrician can glean a lot from a child’s medical history. And this information will likely show red flags that would never show up during a physical exam. These signs include family history and past hospitalizations. If there are signs of heart issues or defects, or other physical maladies that could be genetic, it can be cause for concern that the family needs to discuss with a doctor before continuing with athletic activity.

Many high schools offer dates when physicals can be completed by many physicians for an entire group of athletes. However, this may make some children uncomfortable, and does not help for those who have children under high school age that need a physical. Your local pediatrician group is also able to complete the medical history exam, and complete the necessary paperwork, which will be discussed later.

Physical Examination

Every athlete, from high school football and younger to even the NFL, is required to have a physical examination to ensure that health is up to required levels for athletic participation. For high school and below, athletes are tested on simple things like physical appearance and healthy vision, blood pressure, breathing, etc. The doctor will also check for very basic ability, such as a duck walk, to ensure that they are physically capable of certain movements.


Of course, paperwork is a necessary and important part of the sports physical. Do not show up to a pediatrician without first ensuring that you have all of the required paperwork to turn in for the physical. The paperwork should be readily available online for you, but ask a coach or someone from the school if you have any questions about this. The pediatrician should have to fill out questions regarding the medical history and results of any physical examinations that were mentioned above.

At the end, the doctor will check off whether or not they clear the child for athletic activity, or if they have any reservations that require further testing. You will be able to discuss any reservations and follow up testing with them. Although it can be stressful needing to take time out of a busy schedule to get the physical taken care of, it does not have to be. Having a reliable pediatrician group will make it a much easier process.