Sports Massage Careers: Training

Education Requirements:Become a Sports Massage Therapist

Basic Massage School is required to become a sports massage therapist.  Each state has a different number of hours of education that are required to become a professional massage therapist.  You will have to find out what is required in your state and then find a massage school that will fulfill those requirements just to become licensed to practice massage. Basic massage school will consist of anatomy and physiology courses (learning the structure of the body and how the body works), kinesiology courses (how the muscles move the body), pathology (diseases and conditions), Ethics (learning to set boundaries that support you), Massage Theory and Practice and Business/Marketing.  Many schools will offer the beginnings of classes in clinical massage (massage for injuries) as well as other types of massage such a pregnancy massage, hydrotherapy, spa massage, hot stone massage and deep tissue massage basics.

Most schools will offer some type of basic training in sports massage so that you can get some ideas of what it is and how to start thinking about working with athletes.  It is usually enough information to get you started working with weekend athletes and people who work out regularly.

Working with sports teams at any level will require more training and experience as each sport is unique and requires that you know how the body is used in each sport so that you can apply the massage in the correct way, at the appropriate times.  Consider taking advanced training in Anatomy and Kinesiology such as cadaver classes that can be of great assistance in learning how the body works.  You will always be learning more anatomy, physiology and kinesiology so you really must love those areas to be a great sports massage therapist.  Most athletes are also very aware of their body and how their muscles work so you will need to know how to talk to them in their language.

After you graduate from massage school, you will need more experience doing massage and extra training.  There are advanced classes geared specifically to learn sports massage.  The American Massage Therapy Association has chapters in each state and many have their own sports massage team that does provide training and also a chance to get hands on experience working at local amateur events.

You will need to have a very in depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology that will focus on the movements that occur in various sports.  You will also need an extensive knowledge of injuries, pathologies and an in depth knowledge of how muscles work in order to work more effectively with athletes.  You will need continuing education beyond massage school to become a sports massage therapist.

 Continuing Education in Sports Massage

Regular Sports Massage Classes offered by individuals, schools or groups like American Massage Therapy Associations sports massage teams.
Example: WA  AMTA sports massage training manual

Clinical Massage is a type of massage that is geared toward working with injuries that requires that you learn to make assessments of clients and have a basic understanding of pathology so that you can make decisions on the care of athletes.

Triggerpoint therapy. A type of massage that focuses on releasing the triggerpoints or knots that develop in muscles.  There are a few different methods of treating triggerpoints.

Myofascial release is a type of massage that deals with the fascial covering of the muscles and the muscle fibers.  There are many different techniques of working with the fascia system.  Some popular ones can be found on my website.

Orthopedic massage is a type of massage that has it’s foundation in orthopedic medicine which deals with injuries of the muscles and joints.  There are many different methods of orthopedic massage to choose from.

Lymphatic drainage massage is a type of massage that deals with inflammation and the lymphatic system.


Hydrotherapy which is using hot and cold therapies at appropriate times during training and events.

Deep tissue massage is more of a description of massage than a specific technique.  It entails applying pressure to the deeper muscles of the body and often entails using more pressure from elbows and fists.  There is some controversy over the pain levels that can be felt as a result of this deep pressure.  There are regular deep tissue massage courses and also things like Rolfing® and the structural integration types of bodywork, that work in a deep manner with the body and can be quite effective yet painful.