Sports Physical Therapist

* Last Updated on September 23, 2021

Sports physical therapy has gained popularity over the years due to the increased participation in all games. As such, therapists have being tasked with ensuring the well-being of sportsmen. The career of sports physical therapy has thus been looming. Let us have a look at this area in depth.

What Is Sports Physical Therapist?

Sports physical therapists are experts in musculoskeletal disorders. This is an aspect of health care specifically concerned with the prevention of injuries, treatment, and facilitating quick rehabilitation of the patient back to optimum functional, occupational, and sport-specific fitness regardless of ability and age. Sports physical therapy utilizes the principle of sports and exercises science incorporating physiological and pathological processes to prepare athletes for smooth training and competition.

Job Description

Sport physical therapists are professionals such as massage therapists, physical therapists, medical doctors, and athletic trainers who have acquired a high level of training in fields like prevention management, treatment, recognition and evaluation, rehabilitation, and education. Their job description entails diagnosing problems and evaluating patient’s progress on their treatment and lay down recovery plan to ensure full restoration of sportspeople’s optimum function to enhance a high level of performance in their sports field such as athletics, football, handball, etc.

The sports physical therapists help the sports people to reduce the pain when struck with injuries such as groin pull, fractured nose, shin splints, and the anterior cruciate ligament. They combine good knowledge of exercise science and physiology in providing effective treatment plans to their patients and employing techniques such as massage, muscle stretching and electrotherapy, joint manipulation, and hydrotherapy to improve their strength stamina, balance, and exercise tolerance.

Before the treatment plans commence on patients, the physical therapists carry a series of assessments and functionality test to evaluate their patients range of movement, the extent of their injuries and figure out their treatment plan to help them regain their physical fitness and estimate the duration they will take before they fully recover and resumes for training.

Although sports physical therapist primarily focuses on rehabilitating athletes with musculoskeletal conditions and providing appropriate soft tissue intervention in sports and providing immediate care for injuries and necessary life support in sport fields, they also carry out first aid during sporting events and deal with other small physical injuries such as blisters and flesh wounds. Sports physical therapy work is physically demanding. Sports Physical therapists often stand for long hours and assist the patient in the process of therapy.

How to Become Sports Physical Therapist

Sports physical therapy requires skills and minimum qualification set for this course that will smoothly facilitate enrollment for a degree course.

Skills Requirements

To become a sports physical therapy, one must have the following skills.

Empathy and Understanding; Many patients will be frustrated and disappointed about by the injuries, and as such level, they will be vulnerable, and you need to listen carefully, be patient, and empathetic with them. You need to present a positive outlook on the prospect of their recovery with words of hope.

Reliable and Good Communicator: You need to explain to the patients the complex subjects related to their sustained injuries. The treatment and recovery plan in an easy way for them to understand.

Maturity and Sensitivity; This career requires a high level of sophistication and sensitivity since you will literally have your hands on the bodies of your clients and working in or close to highly sensitive body parts.

Person-Centered; will be working close to people on a personal level. You need to enjoy this work and be genuinely interested in helping your clients. The academic qualification for sports physical therapy includes.


Physical sports therapist must meet the minimum education qualification;

Earn A Bachelor Degree; Sport physical therapists need to earn a graduate degree to obtain a license. Bachelor’s degree programs for undergraduates include pre-physical therapy, sportspeople training, and health sciences such as exercise and physiology. An undergraduate student must take a course that fulfills the minimum requirement to enroll in sports physical therapy degrees such as biology, chemistry, physics, and physiology. Some colleges and universities offer an accelerated duo degree programs such as a six-year program composing of three years in undergraduate level and three years in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program. During your undergraduate work, consider internship and volunteering at sports therapy clinics to gain knowledge and experience needed in this filed. The experience and expertise will an added advantage when you apply for a sports physical therapist.

Doctorate Degree; Doctorate put you in a prime position to compete for the top job in sport therapy fields. The degree prepares you to enter the profession as a sports physical therapist. This program consists of classroom learning and clinical experience. Classroom learning introduces you to the basics of examinations, evaluation, integration through patient care, musculoskeletal, and neurological. Clinical courses teach you physical therapy and its role in the health care system, clinical experience in the examination, decision making, and treatment.

Basic Training Knowledge and Experience; Sports physical therapy requires graduates to have basic knowledge and experience. This knowledge and experience are obtained in sports hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes through internships and volunteering.


Most of the states requires sports physical therapist to be licensed. The permit is obtained through the Federation of state boards of physical therapy that offers computerized licensing exams on set dates throughout the year. Registration for exams requires an accurate report of your education credentials and ensures that you meet the minimum requirements by your state for licensing.

Emergency Medical Technician Certification; Physical sports therapy requires all the applicants to have medical technician certification. This certification is obtained upon completion of short courses offered by Red cross society. These courses teach you how to respond to emergency and stabilize patients breathing until medical personnel arrives on the scene.

Career Outlook and Salary

Physical Sports Therapist Is A Great Career. Sports therapists can expect to earn between $ 88880 and $95900 per annum depending on the number of hours they work, level of qualification, and the experience one has. Most therapists work on an hourly basis and will charge between $30 to $ 60 per hour. The charges depend on the expertise and the level of qualification.

Work Conditions

Physical therapists typically work in a conducive environment in hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. They spend much of their time on their feet and actively engaging their clients.

Career Pros & Cons

Like any other career, physical sports therapy has some challenges, such as working with severe patients and coworkers, emotional strains, and stress. Despite these challenges, the therapists enjoy the fulfillment that comes with career satisfaction, job growth, many opportunities for career advancement, and learning new things.

Career Advice

In the end, sports industries are growing fast and offering many career opportunities. It is advisable to find your career passion, do what you love, and do not worry about what the career pays. If you have a career passion for sport physical therapists, follow your passion, and pursue it.