Sports Physicals and COVID-19

Northwest Arkansas’s community danger level for COVID-19 is now low, and athletes are excited about getting back to their sports. Team sports, in particular, have been hampered by the pandemic. How does COVID-19 affect sports physicals this spring?

Do you need a sports physical?

Student athletes usually require a sports physical or sports clearance exam. This was true before the pandemic and it is still true for millions of kids every year. 

Some colleges requires sports physicals, and even some community teams or groups may recommend them. Adult athletes may sometimes want or need sports physicals as well before they begin participating in certain sports. 

In addition, people who have had COVID-19 should get clearance from their doctors before they return to sports. 


The American Academy of Pediatrics has one special requirement for sports physicals for those who’ve had COVID-19. They should have cardiac screening to make sure their hearts have not been damaged. 

Anyone who has had COVID-19 must be completely free of symptoms for 14 days before returning to normal sports participation.

The AAP does not recommend testing of people who have no symptoms of COVID-19, as part of sports physicals.

What’s involved in a sports physical?

A sports physical exam will generally include questions about your health history and tests of basic health metrics like blood pressure, temperature, height, and weight.

This year, doctors will also ask patients whether they have had COVID-19.

A wellness exam may include immunizations, checks of developmental milestones, and other questions that won’t come up in a sports physical. Some insurance plans will cover a wellness exam but not a sports physical. 

Sometimes a student can be cleared for sports as part of a wellness exam; you should discuss this when making an appointment for your child. 

For children or adults, a sports physical will result either in a form signed by the doctor clearing the patient for sports participation or in further testing and recommendations if the patient is not considered healthy enough to take part in sports. 

Make your sports physical appointment now in order to be sure to be ready to participate in sports in the upcoming school year!