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Pre-Participation & Sports Physicals

The Pre-participation Physical Evaluation (PPE), more commonly known as sports physical, is a necessary component to screen and prevent illness and injury for athletes and non-athletes alike.

In an effort to ensure a safe athletic environment for each individual and to highlight the importance of injury and disease prevention, a PPE is often required prior to participation at various levels of competition. From youth sports to varsity high school sports, college, and pre-professional to professional athletes, there are various organizations that have incorporated a required PPE to ensure safety. Your sports medicine physician is knowledgeable about the various organizations and works in accordance to screen and evaluate athletes of all levels.

VSMD Approach

At VSMD, we conduct sports physicals for all ages to determine whether it’s safe to participate in sports and physical activity. We fulfill requirements from local school systems by conducting sports physicals based on a standardized approach.

Even if a sports physical is not required, it is highly recommended for all athletes and people beginning an activity regiment. During the sports physical, the doctor will address conditions that may hinder athletic participation to include joint instability, medical conditions, and cardiovascular restrictions. For young adults, we pay close attention to growth plates and other growth indicators to ensure athletic participation does not negatively impact the body’s natural process.

A sports physical is recommended once a year especially for youth, young adults, female athletes, and people with pre-existing conditions. It is critical to identify any health condition prior to subjecting the body to rigorous activity.

sports physical
sports physicals

We welcome students from school districts across Northern Virginia including Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, and Arlington County.

Sports Physicals: Need to Know

sports physical

Benefits of Sports Physicals

Yearly medical and physical evaluation


Opportunity to discuss concerns with physician


Opportunity to discuss injury or concern for injury during activity


Identification of potential risks to participation like pre-exisiting conditions and heart irregularities


Additional attention to nutrition, heart, and mental health


Evaluation of unique concerns for female athletes to include menstrual health, bone & joint health, and nutritional habits 


Special attention for persons with prior or current concussion  

sports physical

PPE Applies to all ages

Youth athletes


High school athletes


Intramural athletes


League athletes


Special Olympic athletes


Recreational athletes


Weekend warriors


Collegiate athletes


Pre-professional athletes


Professional athletes


Master’s athletes


sports physical

Components of PPE

Medical and Family Histories


Injury History


Cardiovascular-specific history


Vital Signs


Vision check


General Exam


Comprehensive Physical Exam


Clearance and/or Restrictions


Pre-participation and Sports Physical Evaluations are Part of Eligibility Requirements

High School Level Sports

The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) has guidelines for timing of PPEs and regulates that any athlete participating in high school sport is required to have a PPE. Each state has its own NFHS guidelines to determine frequency of the sports physical. In Virginia, athletes are required to have a yearly evaluation for participation.

Intercollegiate Level Sports

In accordance with NCAA guidelines, PPEs are required for collegiate level athletes. In some cases, an entrance level sports physical is required and subsequent years sports physicals on an as needed basis. There are many factors that go into this decision-making and is best determined by your physician (team physician) and athletic trainers.

Pre-Professional and Professional Level Sports

At this level, there are various governing organizations across different sports that require a pre-participation physical evaluation. This may be required on an individual basis or to have completed with your team physician.

Recreational and Intramural Level Sports

While there may not be a requirement to have a pre-participation physical evaluation, many athletes choose to have one. It is recommended to have a yearly medical evaluation and if participating in sports, a yearly sports physical.

Active Lifestyles

Anyone who is beginning an exercise regimen or plans to start one, should consult with a physician first to determine if there are any restrictions, issues of concern, or special care that should be received prior to exercise. VSMD not only can perform a PPE and determine your risk level, but can also help you to develop a safe and healthy exercise program to meet your individual goals.

Schedule Your Sports Physical with VSMD

Virginia Sports Medicine Doctors are specialty trained to conduct sports physicals for all ages.