A sports physical can help your child get ready to play


Is your child on a school sports team? Then you already know that competitive sports are a great way for your child to stay in shape, make new friends and learn the value of teamwork.

But you might not know why it’s important for your child to get a sports physical, ideally about four to six weeks before the season starts. That’s true even if your child’s school doesn’t require one.

Off to a safe start

This physical is a chance for a doctor to make sure it’s safe for your child to begin a new sports season or sport.

The doctor will look for any health problems that could possibly be a danger during a game or practice. He or she might find something that can be treated or managed so your child doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines.

The doctor can also:

• Help your child play safely with a known health problem. For instance, a child with asthma may need a change in medicine to better control the condition while playing a sport that requires lots of running.

• Talk to your child about how to avoid sports injuries—for example, by advising stretching or strengthening activities—and how to steer clear of overuse and overtraining injuries.

• Discuss nutritional needs. Getting the right amount of calories and eating healthy are important.

But as valuable as these physicals are, they shouldn’t replace your child’s yearly well-child visit. A one-on-one doctor visit allows for a more thorough checkup. And it’s also an opportunity for a doctor to address any health-related concerns you or your child might have.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; National Institutes of Health; Coffey Communications