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Sports Physicals vs. Regular Physicals: What's the Difference?

What is the difference between a sports physical and a regular physical?

A sports physical is an exam required by school districts for students to participate in athletics during the upcoming school year. Also known as a pre-participation exam, the sports physical evaluates a student’s ability to play athletics and is more limited than a regular physical.

Girls soccer team

The sports physical will evaluate a student’s medical history, which may need to be completed by parents to help identify family medical history and any injuries or illnesses from earlier in the student’s childhood. The sports physical also includes a physical examination including height, weight, blood pressure, vision, organ function, strength and flexibility.

If a medical concern arises during a sports physical, the student may be required to go through a regular physical exam or seek athletic participation clearance from his or her primary care provider or a specialist. Such concerns could include cardiovascular disease, orthopedic injuries, epilepsy or concussion symptoms.

High school wrestling match

A regular annual physical focuses on developmental, emotional and social health in addition to physical health necessary to compete in school sports. A regular physical for a child or teenager will consider:

  • Immunization history

  • Lab tests

  • Developmental milestones

  • Adolescent issues

A sports physical can be included in a regular annual physical exam. However, most insurance companies only permit one regular physical per year (365 days), so if your student has had a physical within the last year, you will likely need to opt for a sports physical, which is generally not covered by insurance.

You can get your sports physical at MMG Walk-In Clinic. Sports physicals are $40 now through Aug. 31, 2019. Bring your school-issued form. No appointment necessary.

If you would prefer your student have a regular physical exam and has not had one in the last year, you can request an appointment with our primary care providers.

Football player

Sports physical forms, sometimes listed as PPE forms, are available at your school athletic office:


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