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Sports Physical vs. School Physical: What’s the Difference?

March 18, 2024

Sports Physical vs. School Physical: What’s the Difference?

Sports Physical vs. School Physical: What’s the Difference? 

School physicals and sports physicals are required for any student looking to attend school and participate in sports. Even so, both are different. You may be wondering what the differences between a sports physical and school physical are. 

What is a Sports Physical?

The purpose of the sports physical is to determine your child’s fitness level to ensure that there will be no risks for them when playing sports. If your doctor feels that your child could be at risk, they may suggest medication or provide a specialist referral. The doctor will focus on the height, weight, vision, hearing, heart health, blood pressure, muscle health, bone health, flexibility, and strength of your child. 

A sports physical involves two parts. The first part of a sports physical involves a sports physical form called the Participation Physical Examination (PPE). This form has a variety of questions that will ask you to provide information about family history of illnesses, past injuries, previous hospitalizations, previous surgeries, past and current illnesses (such as diabetes or asthma), and what types of medications (over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, or herbal supplements) your child has taken. This part of the sports physical will also ask if your child has ever passed out, felt dizzy, or felt chest pain during exercise.

The doctor will use the PPE during the next part of the sports physical, the physical exam. Your doctor will check your child’s weight, height, flexibility, strength, joints, pulse, blood pressure, vision, and the posture of your child. The doctor will also check the throat, nose, ears, lungs, abdomen, and heart. Depending on the sex of your child, the doctor will ask different questions due to certain disorders relating directly to the gender of a child. At some point, your doctor will also ask about the use of weight-loss supplements, dietary supplements, steroids, alcohol, and drugs. 


What is a School Physical? 

While similar to sports physicals, school physicals focus on different areas of your child’s health as well. A school physical will examine the social, emotional, and developmental progress of your child. The doctor will give your child a complete physical and ask you about your family’s history but will also look at social and cognitive progress. The doctor will also take this time to ask about drugs, alcohol, puberty, healthy relationships, and peer pressure. During a school physical, your doctor may administer immunizations or request lab work. You can also expect to discuss nutrition, sleeping habits, and a variety of adolescent issues. 

The Difference Between a Sports Physical and School Physical

The key difference between school physicals and sports physical is the focus on mental health. A sports physical will hone in on the physical health of your child because sports are dependent on a healthy body. School physicals focus on your child’s mental health and physical health because problems with either can cause issues for the school year as a whole. 

Sports Physical Near Me 

It is absolutely vital that your child receives a sports physical before they participate in any school sports. A sports physical can alert a doctor to problems that could potentially be deadly to your child. While you can get a sports physical at many locations, many will make you wait weeks to be seen. BASS Primary Care is located in the Shadelands area of Walnut Creek, California, and can ensure that your child will quickly be seen for their sports physical. If your child is injured while playing sports, we offer treatment, as well as CT scans, x-rays, and more. To book an appointment, visit our website, or call us at (925) 962-9120.

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.