A person gets a sports physical by a health care provider to find out if it is safe to start a new sport or a new sports season. Most states require a sports physical before children and teens can play.
Sports physicals do not take the place of regular medical care or routine checkups.
Why Do You Need a Sports Physical?
The sports physical is done to:
The provider can give advice on how to protect yourself from injury while playing a sport, and how to safely play with a medical condition or chronic illness. For example, if you have asthma, you may need a change in medicine to better control it while playing sports.
What Happens During a Sports Physical?
Providers may perform sports physicals differently from one another. But they always include a conversation about your medical history and a physical exam.
Your provider will want to know about your health, your family's health, your medical problems, and what medicines you take.
The physical exam is similar to your annual checkup, but with some added things that relate to playing sports. The provider will focus on the health of your lungs, heart, bones, and joints. Your provider may:
Your provider may ask about:
What Information Should You Bring to the Visit?
If you get a form for your medical history, fill it out and bring it with you. If not, bring this information with you:
Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Sports participation evaluation. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Seidel' s Guide to Physical Examination. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 24.
Magee DJ. Primary Care assessment. In: Magee DJ, ed. Orthopedic Physical Assessment. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 17.
Review Date: 5/13/2019
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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