Restrictions for Children Who Play Sports

Although we encourage most kids to be active and play sports as part of a healthy lifestyle and to avoid childhood obesity, there are some sports that children with certain medical conditions should avoid. These medical conditions include children who have atlantoaxial instability (Down syndrome), bleeding disorders, hypertension, congenital heart disease, an enlarged spleen, poorly controlled seizures, etc.

A child holding a soccer ball in a gym

Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

Restrictions on Contact Sports

In most cases, if a child has to avoid playing sports, it ​is only contact sports that they have to avoid. And while most parents can easily recognize sports like football and hockey as contact sports, some others are more surprising.

If your child is not supposed to play contact sports or collision sports, then he should likely avoid:

  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Cheerleading
  • Diving
  • Downhill skiing
  • Field Hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Tackle Football
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Rodeo
  • Rugby
  • Ski Jumping
  • Snowboarding
  • Soccer
  • Team Handball
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Water Polo
  • Wrestling

In some circumstances, you may also need to avoid other limited contact sports, such as:

  • Baseball
  • Bicycling
  • Cheerleading
  • White Water Canoeing or Kayaking
  • Fencing
  • Field Events, Such as High Jump and Pole Vault
  • Floor Hockey
  • Flag Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Handball
  • Horseback Riding
  • Racquetball
  • Ice Skating
  • In-Line Roller Skating
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Weighlifting
  • Skateboarding
  • Snowboarding
  • Softball
  • Squash
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Volleyball
  • Windsurfing
  • Surfing

One Kidney Sports Restrictions

If a child is born with a single or solitary kidney or if he has one kidney removed, then he will likely need to take steps to avoid injuring the remaining kidney. And this usually means avoiding contact sports, especially heavy contact sports.

Although the National Kidney Foundation states that the limitation might also include heavy contact or collision sports, including "boxing, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, rodeo, soccer and wrestling," the American Academy of Pediatrics states that children with a solitary kidney need "individual assessment for contact, collision, and limited-contact sports" before they participate.

Keep in mind that the risk of injury to a solitary kidney can depend on whether the kidney is healthy, enlarged, out of position, etc. and that children are sometimes allowed to play contact sports if everyone understands the risks, especially if the child wears protective pads and the sport can be modified to be safer for the child.

Mono Sports Restrictions

Children with mono and an enlarged spleen, which can rupture, are supposed to "avoid all sports" according to the AAP.

Sports Restrictions and Other Medical Conditions

There are many other medical conditions that can limit a child's participation in sports. However, there are few one size fits all rules and so you might talk with a specialist about whether or not your child with a medical problem can play a certain sport. The AAP states that the level of competition, availability of protective equipment if the sport can be modified, etc., can all help determine if a child can play.

Some other chronic medical conditions that may limit (or modify) a child's participation in sports can include:

  • Atlantoaxial instability
  • Bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia
  • Cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, congenital heart disease, irregular heart rhythms, and non-innocent heart murmurs
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Functionally one-eyed athletes
  • Enlarged Liver
  • Malignant neoplasm (cancer)
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Neurologic disorders, including a history of head trauma, spine trauma, or poorly controlled seizures
  • Obesity
  • Organ transplant recipient
  • Respiratory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis and asthma
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Sickle cell trait
  • Undescended or Absent Testicle (the child may need to wear a protective cup)

In general, if your child has a chronic medical condition, talk to your pediatrician or Pediatric Specialist before starting a new sport.

Noncontact Sports

According to the AAP, noncontact sports include:

  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Bodybuilding
  • Bowling
  • Canoeing or kayaking (flat water)
  • Crew or rowing
  • Curling
  • Dancing, including Ballet, Modern, Jazz, etc.
  • Field events, including Discus, Javelin, Shot put
  • Golf
  • Orienteering
  • Powerlifting
  • Race walking
  • Riflery
  • Rope jumping
  • Running
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis
  • Track
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Kidneys and sports. Patel DR - Adolesc Med Clin - 01-FEB-2005; 16(1): 111-9, xi
  • Medical Conditions Affecting Sports Participation. PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 5 May 2001, pp. 1205-1209.
  • National Kidney Foundation. Living With One Kidney. Updated: 06/03/04.

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
 Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.