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Why Your Teen Should See a Pediatrician When Getting a Sports Physical

March 18, 2024

Why Your Teen Should See a Pediatrician When Getting a Sports Physical

So your little Lebron James wants to play on the school basketball team. How exciting for you! You get to bedazzle your“ Basketball Mom” t-shirt and drive around town sporting your little all-stars bumper sticker. 

But before you get lost in creating the posters you will proudly (and loudly) wave at your little one’s first big game, you have a necessary step to take: the sports physical.

Where to Get a Sports Physical

Now little Michael Jordan’s school likely holds a mass-physical for all the little players, but you may be wondering if you should give your pediatrician a call. Good move, mom — you’re right.  

A sports physical, also known in the medical field as a pre-participation exam (PPE), is crucial for ensuring your little one’s safety in participating in any school-sanctioned sport. And while it may sound so much simpler to just have your athlete head to the locker room with everyone else for the group exam, many medical professionals advise against it. 

Why a Pediatrician is a Safer Route for Your Sports Physicals

There are many reasons why it’s better to have your child’s pediatrician handle the physical. Let's dive in:

  • Your pediatrician is familiar with your teen. The health professionals at a group physical may be professionals — but they don’t know your child like his doctor does. 


Your doctor will also have access to comprehensive medical records. This means he’ll have a much easier time assessing your kiddo’s abilities and addressing any concerns. This leads us to our next point.

  • Group participation exams can miss key health concerns. You won't be in the locker room with your child at the group physical. If the evaluator has a question about family history, you won't be there to answer them. And since these professionals aren’t familiar with your athlete, they don't know what pre-existing conditions run in the family or what might be life-threatening. 


A history of sudden cardiac arrest, sickle cell disease, heart murmur, asthma, or high blood pressure can all be important to your child’s health as they gear up to play. 

  • Your child will have more privacy with her pediatrician. The chance to sit one-on-one with the doctor is an important factor when evaluating your little leaguer. 


The doctor will be assessing all aspects of health, including your child’s mental and emotional health. The doctor will look at the student’s home, education, alcohol use, drug use, and social life. If your child does not have a secure room to talk with his professional, he will have a harder time speaking honestly and transparently. Important factors could go unnoticed. 

  • If there are any concerns, your pediatrician is equipped and prepared to refer you to a sports medicine primary care physician,     sports physical therapist, or orthopedist. Not to mention, if anything is found, your athlete will need to see your pediatrician for a further evaluation     anyway. This could potentially delay their chance to start with the season. 

Save yourself some time: start with your pediatrician. 

Things to Keep in Mind

If you do opt for the mass evaluation, make sure the medical information gathered at the physical gets to your primary pediatrician. This way you can make sure to maintain an accurate, comprehensive set of data to follow your athlete. 

Try to schedule your physical 6 to 8 weeks before the season starts. This gives you plenty of time in case you need to have anything addressed. To avoid the back-to-school rush, you can ask to have a preparticipation exam at her next annual check-up. 

Where to Get a Sports Physical

If you are new to the area and are looking to find a reliable pediatrician for your star athlete, call us at (925) 962-9120. Our friendly staff here at BASS Primary Care love to serve our local families and all their medical needs.

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