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What’s Involved in My Child’s Sports Physical

What’s Involved in My Child’s Sports Physical

An estimated 68.3 million Americans participate in team sports, with a healthy increase in participation among those ages 6-12. If you count yourself among the parents whose weekends are packed with youth practice and game schedules, you know all too well that there’s much more to it than practice and the actual games.

If you’re like most parents, your calendars are also jam-packed with Zoom meetings and other appointments. So, you may be thinking, if your child already gets regular checkups and well-child visits, is it necessary to get sports physicals, too?

The short answer is this: Yes. In this blog, the pediatric care specialists at Generations Family Practice in Cary and Raleigh, North Carolina, explain why sports physicals are necessary and what’s involved with them.

The sports physical difference

A sports physical, sometimes called a preparticipation physical evaluation, or PPE, is a standard requirement for youth sport participation in most states. The overarching goal of a sports physical is not to approve or not approve your child’s participation, but to carefully evaluate your child’s health and fitness in the context of the sport that they wish to play.

So, unlike a well-child visit, which evaluates everything from whether they’re developing and growing properly to whether or not they’re up to date on their immunizations, a sports physical takes a deep dive on their health to enhance their opportunity to safely play sports to their fullest potential.

Essentially, your provider uses a sports physical to determine if barriers to play exist and how to tackle them if they do. For instance, if your child has seasonal allergies or frequent asthma attacks, and they want to play soccer, your provider can do things like adjust their medications, so breathing issues won’t hinder their ability to fully participate.


Sports physicals are typically good for a year. It’s prudent to schedule a sports physical about six weeks prior to the start of the given sports season, so that if an existing condition needs attention or a new one is detected, you’ll still have time for additional testing and treatment.

Components of a sports physical

A sports physical consists of two main parts: a physical exam and a medical history exam. It’s not uncommon for the parent and child to flesh out the medical history together, since the parent will likely have more in-depth knowledge of family medical history.

Medical and family history

Resist the temptation of skimming over any items, which could cause issues playing certain sports, since the goal is not to exclude your child from playing, but to put them in a safe position while playing. The medical history portion of the exam will also include questions about any:

Physical examination

The physical exam includes:

Optimizing your child’s ability to compete without injury

The sports physicals’ focus on ensuring that your child can participate fully and safely doesn’t stop with going over existing medical conditions. There’s also an important focus on minimizing the risk for injury, and for good reason. Each year, about 3.5 million sports injuries occur in the United States. Remarkably, nearly one-third of childhood injuries are sports-related.

To learn more or to set up a sports physical for your child, book an appointment online or over the phone with Generations Family Practice today.

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