Ask the expert: Getting kids ready for school sports

Boy holding basketball

School sports are a great way for kids to stay active and make new friends. But before your child puts on a uniform, a physical exam can help determine if it is safe for him or her to participate.

Most states, including Illinois, require that young athletes have a sports physical before they start a new sport or begin a new competitive season.

Nasreen Ansari, MD, a family medicine physician at the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Advanced Care at Orland Park, answers parents’ questions about sports physicals.

Q: When should I bring my child in for a sports physical?

A: Your child should be seen by your physician or other medical professional at least six weeks prior to the start of the sport's season.

Q: How do I get my child ready for a sports physical?

A: Parents should bring the school’s sports physical exam form completed with the child’s medical history, a list of the child’s medications (if any) and any other medical information that may be necessary.

Q: What happens if my child doesn't pass their sports physical?

A: Depending on the issue, your son or daughter may need to have a more advanced evaluation and/or diagnostic tests. This could delay their participation in the sport. However, the goal is to always keep your child safe and healthy.

Q: What advice do you have for parents of young athletes?

A: Plenty of rest and a well-balanced diet are key. In addition, look for ways to help your child manage stress. Participating in a sport, maintaining good grades and keeping up with household responsibilities can be a lot for any child to juggle.