Sports Therapist Career Guide

Last Updated: June 25, 2024

What is Sports Therapy?

Sport therapy is a segment of the global healthcare industry that has recently become quite popular due to its applications and positive results in sports.

Sports therapy focuses on preparing an athlete for maximum mental and physical performance on the field and during training. These athletes are treated as patients if they need rehabilitative care due to an injury or accident. They are also treated as clients when sports therapists try to increase the mental and physical performance of athletes.

Amateur and professional athletes have it tough due to the nature of the game and the training requirements. The game itself is extremely competitive and many times athletes feel the psychological stress and pressure which at times becomes overwhelming for them. This results in either poor output or frequent injuries.

In a nutshell, the teachings and principles of sports therapy work towards preparing an athlete that is ready to handle the stress on and off the field. Sports therapists are also responsible for treating those athletes who have injured themselves either on the field or while training.

Helping athletes recover from injuries and encouraging their prevention is also a major area of focus for all sports therapists.

Where Does a Sports Therapist Work?

Sports therapists often work in gyms, fitness centers, hospitals, sports clubs and similar areas where they may have access to amateur and professional athletes. Many times these athletes or members will visit you for consultations of advice on how to deal with something as minor as a sprained ankle to something as severe as a broken rib.

The field of sports therapy is quite interactive when it comes to patients and clients – which means you will be spending a lot of time examining, counseling, advising, treating and visiting patients or clients. Basically you will be spending a lot of time with people rather than using machines, computers or sitting behind a desk all day.

Depending on your level of expertise, you may find yourself working for a prominent sports club or a national team. This could be very exciting, challenging and rewarding. You may even get a chance to accompany your national team on international tours such as tournaments or even the Olympics!

At times when an athlete gets injured or requires extensive medical treatment such as surgery or physiotherapy, you may need to coordinate closely with specialists and surgeons to ensure the recovery of your patient. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may need to visit a patient’s home for following up. A lot of cross departmental collaboration can come into play.

Many a time you will have to apply and provide therapeutic and strategic massages to your patients. This is actually an integral part to sports therapy that is in demand globally. Since there are many different styles and methods of massages, you may visit massage parlors to use specialized equipment to treat certain patients.

What Does It Take to Become a Sports Therapist?

As with any career, you need to be willing to work hard and make sacrifices to get where you want. Sports therapists need to have the relevant degrees, certifications and the licensing to practice.

Since this is an area of science and you will be responsible for the well-being of athletes, therefore it is important you are adequately qualified. So be prepared for lots of coursework, certifications, examinations, and licensing.

You will need to have strong interpersonal and communication skills as well, because as stated earlier there is dependency on many different medical professionals. Furthermore, you will need to be able to connect with the patient so that you can provide accurate treatment to them.

Since sports therapy also includes a psychological treatment, you must be able to draw a link with patients. The way you express ideas, treatments and therapies to your clients or patients is crucial to their success and ultimately your success as well.

How Much Does a Sports Therapist Make?

As of December 2022, according to Ziprecruiter, the average salary for a sports therapist is $61,208 per year, with top earners (90th percentile) earning over $100,000 per year.

Sports therapists working in Nebraska, Wyoming and Connecticut earn the highest average salary of $75,276, $73,926 and $72,505 respectively.

Is Being a Sports Therapist Right For Me?

It is safe to assume that you need to have some prior interest in either sports or the performance of the human body to be able to enter the field of sports therapy. It is not an absolute necessity, but it will surely make your work enjoyable.

You should also consider the fact that the job of a sports therapist is full of responsibility because your treatment and therapy will define the recovery and potentially the career of an athlete.

You must also be ready to constantly improve your credentials and qualifications over the course of time so that you remain up to date with the latest trends, teachings and principles. Therefore you must not think that your quest for knowledge stops once you get a license to practice. New researches yielding new methods of treatment and therapies are always adding value to this industry.

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