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Athletic Physicals

If your teen plays a school sport, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) requires an athletic physical before your child is allowed to participate. These examinations differ from the annual check-up because they are specifically designed to uncover issues that could interfere with sports participation.

Athletic physicals are essential for the safety of your child because they identify potential problems that could arise during vigorous activity. In many cases, the issue can be addressed so that the individual can still participate in the sport of their choice. In some situations, you may learn your teen requires treatment before joining the team or in rare cases, your child might be barred from a particular sport entirely.

Benefits of Athletic Physicals

While you and your teen might see the athletic physical as merely a means to an end, there are numerous benefits of undergoing this ritual annually:

  • Detect potential conditions or medical issues that require treatment
  • Identify potentially dangerous conditions that could flare up during activity
  • Monitor old injuries to ensure they will not prohibit athletic play
  • Maximize the student’s performance on the athletic field
  • Teach ways to prevent injury and protect the head and body
  • Ensures the safety of the teen while participating in sports activities

Overview of Athletic Physicals

Athletic physicals are often broken down into two distinct components:

Medical History

This process helps to uncover potential issues based on your teen’s health history as well as the family history of conditions. Items covered in the medical history might include:


  • Serious illnesses experienced by your teen or family members
  • Medications or supplements your teen is currently taking
  • Illnesses the teen might have had in the past or now
  • Injuries or illnesses that required hospitalization or surgery
  • Previous injuries (especially concussions, fractures and sprains)
  • Concerning symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, chest pain or difficulty breathing



You may complete the history with your physician or at home before the appointment. It is critical to answer every question carefully and accurately since this process can offer important clues about potential warning signs or issues that could affect safety or performance on the athletic field.

Physical Examination

The second portion of an athletic physical consists of the examination performed by the physician. You can expect your doctor to perform any or all of the following steps:


  • Measure and record weight and height
  • Test vision and hearing
  • Assess blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Evaluate the strength and flexibility of joints and muscles
  • Observe posture
  • Check essential organs like the heart and lungs
  • Examine ears, nose and throat



Your doctor will also ask about drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Encourage your teen to be honest about these answers, since these substances can affect both health and athletic performance.

If everything checks out during the examination, your doctor will sign the form that allows your child to participate in that sport for the year. These physicals do need to be repeated annually to ensure new issues or concerns do not arise. The athletic physical does not take the place of a routine check-up, which should also be conducted each year by your teen’s doctor.