Texas Sport Physicals: What You Need to Know

As the school year comes to an end, it’s time to start thinking about next year – and that includes making sure your child is up-to-date on their sport physical.
In Texas, all students who want to participate in a school-sponsored sport must have a valid sport physical on file with the school.
Here’s what you need to know to make sure your child is ready to hit the field next year.

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Athletes in Texas who wish to participate in organized sports must have a physical exam before they are allowed to play. The purpose of the physical is to make sure that the athlete is physically fit to play and to identify any potential health problems that could be exacerbated by playing.

Texas law requires that the physical be performed by a licensed physician, Nurse Practitioner, or Physician Assistant. The physical must be completed on a form provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The form must be signed by the athlete, parent or guardian, and the licensed health care provider who performed the examination.

The DSHS form must be submitted to the athlete’s school prior to participation in any practices or games. A new physical is not required every year, but an annual update form must be completed and signed by the licensed health care provider if there has been a change in the athlete’s medical history or physical condition since the last exam.

What is a Texas Sport Physical?

A Texas Sport Physical is a medical examination required by the state of Texas for any student who wants to participate in a school-sponsored sport. The physical must be conducted by a licensed health care provider, and it must be within the 12 months preceding the start of the sport season.

Who Needs a Texas Sport Physical?

You must have a current Texas sport physical on file with your school in order to try out or participate in any UIL sport. If you are transferring to a new school, you will need to provide evidence of a current physical within 30 days of enrolling in the new school.

Athletes who will be entering the 7th grade and those who are new to participating in UIL sports must have a Texas sport physical before they can participate. Once an athlete has a current physical on file, they will not need another one as long as they stay enrolled in the same school and participate in the same sport. If an athlete changes schools or wants to participate in a different sport, they will need to get another Texas sport physical.

What is Included in a Texas Sport Physical?

A Texas sport physical is a comprehensive medical exam required by the state of Texas for all students participating in competitive sports. The physical must be completed by a licensed medical professional and must be dated within one year of the start of the sports season.

The physical will assess the student’s overall health and fitness level, and will also look for any pre-existing medical conditions that could potentially jeopardize their safety while playing sports. The examination will likely include a review of the student’s medical history, a general physical examination, and specific tests related to sports participation.

It is important to note that although a Texas sport physical is required for all students wishing to participate in competitive sports, it is not a substitute for a regular well-child visit with a pediatrician. Students should still see their pediatrician regularly, even if they are not participating in sports.

How to Prepare for a Texas Sport Physical

Before you see the doctor, it is a good idea to have a general physical examination and to get any needed immunizations. You should also bring a list of all the medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines and vitamins. This will help the doctor understand your complete medical history. You should also come dressed in comfortable clothing that allows the doctor to see your body completely, such as shorts and a t-shirt.

FAQs about Texas Sport Physicals

Q: Why do athletes need a sport physical?
A: The purpose of a sport physical is to ensure that an athlete is healthy and physically able to participate in a given sport. Sport physicals help identify any pre-existing medical conditions that could potentially put an athlete at risk for suffering an injury or experiencing complications during exercise or competition.

Q: When should athletes get a sport physical?
A: It is recommended that athletes get a sport physical at least once per year. However, some sports organizations may require more frequent sport physicals. For example, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) requires student-athletes to have a sport physical every year in order to participate in NCAA-sanctioned activities.

Q: What does a sport physical involve?
A: A sport physical typically involves a medical history review, followed by a head-to-toe examination. During the medical history review, the health care provider will ask about the athlete’s personal and family medical history, as well as any previous injuries or illnesses. The head-to-toe examination will assess the athlete’s height, weight, blood pressure, vision, heart rate and rhythm, lung function, flexibility, coordination, and strength.

Q: Are there any special considerations for student-athletes?
A: Yes. Student-athletes who participate in NCAA-sanctioned activities are required to have a “Preparticipation Physical Evaluation” (PPE) form completed by their health care provider prior to participating in any NCAA activities. This form must be renewed every year. In addition to the information typically gathered during a sport physical, the PPE form also includes questions about sickle cell status and use of banned substances.

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