The Difference Between A Sports Physical And An Annual Physical

Sporting activities are a great way for children to stay active while having fun. Ranging from school teams to community-organized sporting events, most kids are physically active. These include children who love to skateboard, hike, and climb, as well as participate in the school musical. These keep them on the go, and we need to make sure that children are healthy and fit enough to take part in these activities.

At White Oak Pediatrics, Raleigh, NC, our team of pediatricians provide comprehensive sports physicals, for children looking to participate in sports or other physically demanding activities.

Some people may wonder what the differences are between a sports physical and an annual physical, and while they can be combined during the same visit, they both cover different aspects of the child's health.

What are Sports Physicals?

Sports physicals, also called pre-participation exams, are used to:

  • Assess the child's overall health and fitness levels, paying attention to heart health, blood pressure, muscle tone, bone health, flexibility, and strength. Previous history of any injuries or concussions is also discussed.
  • Screen the child for illnesses and injuries, while ensuring that any chronic conditions are managed.
  • Help detect underlying conditions that may increase the chances of the child getting injured while playing.
  • Address unique concerns faced by female athletes or those with disabilities
  • Provide helpful tips or strategies, customized to each child's activity and fitness levels, so that they can participate safely.

Children require a documented pre-participation exam to be conducted by an authorized healthcare provider before they are allowed to take part in sporting activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents screen their children 6-8 weeks before a sports season.

Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, the pediatrician deems the child eligible or ineligible to take part in the activity, while some kids may be recommended to undergo further testing before a decision is made. According to data obtained from the Cleveland Clinic, 10% of student-athletes may have conditions that require interventions before being cleared to play. Rarely, 1% to 2% may not be allowed to participate due to health issues.

Our team of doctors at White Oak Pediatrics is happy to help the community in Raleigh, NC, by providing sports physicals for children.

What are Annual physicals?

In addition to the child's physical health, annual visits will also focus on their developmental, emotional, and social well-being. This is one of the main differences between a sports physical and an annual physical. A detailed medical history, including vaccinations, nutrition, and sleep patterns, provides an evaluation of the child's health. Pediatricians may choose to conduct behavioral and developmental screenings or give advice on adolescent issues if needed.

While the two types of visits can be scheduled together to make things easier for parents, there are still marked differences between a sports physical and an annual physical.

Are you looking to get your child a sports physical before their activities begin? Let our experienced team of pediatricians at White Oak Pediatrics, Raleigh, NC, help you easily tick one more item off your to-do list! Call (919) 787-0266 to make an appointment or visit our offices at 4414 Lake Boone Trail Suite 103, Raleigh, NC 27607.

White Oak Pediatrics


4414 Lake Boone Trail,
Suite 103,
Raleigh, NC 27607


7:30 am - 5:00 pm


7:30 am - 5:00 pm


7:30 am - 5:00 pm


7:30 am - 5:00 pm


7:30 am - 5:00 pm


8:30 am - 12:00 pm



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