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Missing Athletic Physical Forms? 5 Tips for Tracking Down High School Students and Parents

Clay Burnett

Athletic directors know full well how tricky it can be to get the signatures needed from students, parents, physicians, and staff on high school athletic physical forms.

When you rely on paper forms only, additional challenges arise, such as illegible handwriting, misplaced files, and a time-exhaustive data-entry process to transfer the information over to your student information system.

Students can’t participate in sports activities until their physical forms are turned in. To improve the student-athlete experience and ensure that all students who want to play sports are eligible, districts need to do everything they can to optimize the form distribution and collection processes.

With that in mind, here are some tips to enhance those processes and, as a result, ensure a higher percentage of students are eligible for sports when the season begins:

1. Communicate Early and Often

If you wait until the beginning of the school year to distribute athletic physical forms, it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve 100 percent form compliance with any sense of urgency. You can, however, overcome that obstacle by sending out forms well in advance to ensure that all stakeholders have more than enough time to fill them out.

A recent report from the Speak Up Research Project revealed that parents prefer convenient communication methods—such as emails and text messages—over having to actively search for messages and other content on school websites.

If you want to accelerate form completion and collection, don’t be afraid to light up each parent’s inbox at regular intervals until forms are turned in. With the right tools in place, you can manage that outreach automatically (more on that later).

2. Use the Easiest, Simplest Forms Possible

Nobody gets excited by the prospect of filling out page after page after page of a seemingly never-ending form. We all have better things to do.

You want to ensure compliance, but you don’t need to ask students and parents 1,000 questions. Some forms required by the district and state may be lengthy, but you can look for ways to consolidate and shorten them.

Similarly, consider the needs of the ESL families in your district and provide instructions and forms in their native languages. The more thoroughly they understand each form, the more likely they will be to fill them out and send them in on time.

→ Need help consolidating your registration forms and moving them online? Schedule a demo with FinalForms to see how we can help.

3. Move Your Athletic Physical Forms Online

Studies show that 45 percent of paper documents get thrown in the trash by the end of the day. Most school districts require athletic physical forms to be submitted on paper since they require a doctor’s signature. But keeping track of these paper forms after they’re submitted can be problematic. Coaches and trainers carry them back and forth from the file cabinet in their office to practice and games, leaving room for them to get lost in the shuffle. 

By moving forms online, you can digitize physical forms as they’re submitted, reducing the chances you misplace them while simultaneously increasing security. 

As a result, students won’t be prohibited from participating in sports just because an administrator can’t locate a physical form they already turned in.

4. Partner with a Local Health Care Provider

It’s not uncommon for the bulk of your student athletes to go to the same health care provider. All of these students need to get physicals and they also need to turn in the corresponding forms to be eligible to play sports.

One easy way to increase high school athletic physical form compliance is by partnering with a local health care provider and scheduling a school- or district-wide physical exam at the beginning of the year. That way, students can get their physicals out of the way, have their forms signed, and turn the forms in right away.

5. Incentivize Your Students to Comply

Another way to increase form compliance is by threatening to withhold certain privileges until students turn in the relevant forms. For example, in addition to preventing them from participating in sports activities, you might decide to prohibit upperclassmen from parking on campus until they’ve turned in their physical forms. You can also prevent them from participating in other extracurricular clubs and activities until after they’ve submitted their forms.

Other consequences we’ve heard of include denying access to school-issued technology, denying access to lockers, and denying driving privileges.

Transform the High School Athletic Physical Form Collection Process with FinalForms

Achieving 100 percent form compliance can seem like an insurmountable task—particularly when you’re relying on the same processes you’ve been using for decades without great results.

The good news is that, with the right tools in place, it’s easy to bring your form collection and distribution process into the digital age.

For example, FinalForms can help with high school athletic physical forms—as well as any other forms your district needs. With automated reminders and a clear user interface that helps staff identify and track down missing or incomplete paperwork, collecting high school athletic physical forms has never been easier—creating a stronger and healthier athletic environment across your district.

Contact us today to schedule a demo and see how FinalForms can help your district increase compliance and improve the form distribution and collection process for all stakeholders, creating a more efficient and enjoyable educational experience for everyone.

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