Whether your little one is an athlete or an artist, health is your top priority. And for many kids, back to school means back to sports — a beautiful time for kids to grow, mature, have fun, and get exercise with their friends! But each year before they start, it’s important to visit your pediatrician to check in on your child’s ability to safely participate in athletic competition. With the hustle and bustle of the new school year starting, you might be wondering, are well child visits necessary if your little one just had their sports physical? The answer is a resounding YES. But it’s a little more complicated than you might think. Keep reading for all the information you need on why well child exams are so important, and why sport physicals simply cannot replace them. 


Whether your child just signed up for their first year of basketball or has been dreaming of a future tennis career for years, they need to get cleared for play by a doctor. The simple, quick physical exam focuses on wellness as it relates to playing their sport. This means checking the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems for fitness. The heart, lungs, reflexes, mobility, and a few other aspects will be evaluated with respect to the demands of your child’s sport. 

After these routine checks, the doctor makes a final determination for the season on whether or not a child is healthy enough to partake in their athletic passion this year. Keep in mind, if your child happens to have a medical condition, the sports physical is a great time to check in on not only their ability to play but also any concerns you might have and what additional tools they might need to participate safely.


By now, you’re sure to be familiar with well child visits. This yearly exam, often scheduled ahead of the new school year, is important for routine checks that evaluate the health and wellness of your little one from head to toe. In contrast to a sports physical, the well child exam is comprehensive and holistic. It includes important aspects of your child’s health that a sports physical would most likely leave behind. This is an opportunity for your pediatrician to take note of any changes in your child’s health, current or upcoming, that may need special attention.

In addition to yearly vision, hearing, and blood tests, your child’s pediatrician can monitor their overall growth and development. Doctors will also evaluate things like sleep, nutrition, and even mental health. This holistic, routine evaluation is crucial for preventative care, forming healthy habits, and finding unforeseen problems. While you know your child best, the careful professional eye of your pediatrician can be invaluable for gaining insight and perspective on your child’s physical and mental health.


Beyond a holistic check, an annual visit to the pediatrician for a well exam is crucial to stay up to date on immunizations. As kids grow and mature, they are likely to encounter new, different viruses. Each year, parents can talk to their child’s pediatrician about updating flu shots and COVID-19 vaccinations as necessary, and beginning new rounds of immunizations such as HPV and meningitis. The right time to start and when to update immunizations can vary based on age, health, and personal preference. This yearly exam is an excellent time to discuss the best preventive care for your child. 


As children start to play sports and get more competitive in their play, they are getting older, and inevitably, more mature. As years pass, well child visits are an important part of health education for kids whose bodies are rapidly changing. Tweens can note their changes and discuss any questions they have with their pediatrician for open, honest professional health advice. As they encounter new information in health classes, from family or friends, and on the internet, they might find themselves in need of a confidential source for factual information. Letting older children have time to talk to their pediatrician privately can help provide them with more unbiased information and build confidence for the changes in their minds and bodies coming in the future.


In addition to routine checks, preventative care, and preparing for puberty, well child visits are a powerful and positive chance for your child to learn about health and check in with their pediatrician about any questions or non-urgent concerns they might have. Attending yearly exams can be very important for forming healthy habits and ideas about health. On top of that, regular doctor’s visits give your child a chance to get used to visiting the doctor’s office and reduce any fears or resistance they might have to healthcare. Ultimately, this give and take conversation helps kids develop positive and productive relationships with their doctor and their health for the years to come.

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are here to give your family the care and peace of mind needed to start the school year off mentally, physically, and holistically healthy. If you are ready for your little one’s well child exam and need a sports physical too, talk to your pediatrician about combining the two exams to include the sport physical exam as a part of their annual well visit. So, if your kiddo can’t wait to get back on the field, out on the court, or into the pool, make an appointment for your well child visit and sports physical by visiting us at www.coastalkids.com