High school kids playing soccer.

Whether playing football or running cross country, Washington state requires student athletes to receive a sports physical exam before participating in school athletics. Now is the time to schedule a physical to ensure your child is ready to hit the field and safely play!

Tips for Your Sports Physical Gameplan

  • Fill Out Paperwork in Advance: Have all school paperwork completely filled out BEFORE your appointment! (print out samples below or get it from school).
  • Ask questions in advance. Ask questions about how your child is feeling before your visit. Sometimes kids can be embarrassed speaking about their health issues, even to a physician. Ask a variety of candid questions, take notes and bring to your appointment:
    • Breathing: Have you had issues breathing when running, hiking or playing?
    • Vision: Do you ever have trouble seeing close up or far away? Do you wear glasses or contacts? (bring these to the appointment)
    • Medical History: Any other known health problems? Heart problems? Seizures? Severe allergies or anaphylaxis? Have you had major injuries?
    • Family History: Has anyone in either side of the family ever died suddenly under 50 years old? If so, how?

    What is a sports physical?

    Known as the preparticipation physical examination (PPE), this exam determines whether it is safe for your child to participate in sports. Sports physicals can be an effective tool in identifying medical problems such as asthma, concussions, or congenital heart defects through a review of medical history and a physical exam. A sports physical does not replace an annual wellness physical. In Washington state, a sports physical exam is credible for 24 months.

    Provide accurate information: The more accurate and organized your athlete’s health information, the better your health care provider can care for him or her! If your child is hitting puberty, it’s important to check in about any joint pain or other issues that you may notice.

    Maximize your visit time: Come prepared to be open, ask questions and review your family history. It's also important to discuss daily habits, nutrition and lifestyle choices. Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move in - shorts are ideal for a good knee and joint exam.

    Get ahead with preventative strategies: To optimize sports safety and performance, it’s important to consider daily habits, nutrition and lifestyle choices. At the end of the exam, your provider will decide if your athlete is cleared to play and for which sport(s). However, your care provider may find health issues that require follow-up or a referral to a specialist. It could be something as simple as getting their eyes checked or something more serious that needs a specialist's evaluation. This follow-up may actually help your child’s athletic performance. For example, your child may have knee pain as a result of poor running technique that a sports medicine physician could help correct. Or, a new inhaler could help them breathe more easily and prevent sports-induced asthma.


August 17, 2017 | by The Polyclinic