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Sports Massage Therapist Job Description Explained

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If you're thinking of a career as an SMT, our sports massage therapist job description will tell you everything you need to know, so you know exactly what to expect!

To give you a clear idea of exactly what a job as a sports massage therapist (SMT) involves, we’ve broken down the key components including:

If this is the career path for you, OriGym’s Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course is the ideal place to start. Our CIMSPA accredited course has everything you need to master the appropriate skills and get started working with a huge variety of clients.

You can also download the free complete course prospectus here for more information and details of everything else we have to offer!

Sports Massage Therapist Job Description

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As you may have guessed, the biggest part of your job as a sports massage therapist will be to give clients massages!

Essentially your job is to use massage either to help prepare muscles for sporting or other fitness activity, helping to prevent injury, or using massage after exercise to aid recovery.

Though a lot of the time you will be working with one individual client at a time, you will also often be part of a team of other sports therapists helping with a programme of care.

As part of your sports massage therapist job description you might expect to work alongside:

  • Physiotherapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Dietitians

The kind of massage that you do will depend on the sport or activity you’re helping somebody prepare/recover from, and this will shape the areas of the body you target too.

Responsibilities in a Sports Massage Therapist Job Description

If you’re interested in becoming an SMT, we’ll now look in more detail at the responsibilities of the role below to better understand the sports massage therapist job description!

#1 You’re Responsible for Completing Initial Assessments

As a sports massage therapist, your job description includes completing initial assessments to gather information from clients about their particular needs.

This is super important because it will essentially shape the programme you design for someone and determine the frequency of the treatments you provide.

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You might ask about some of the following in these assessments to build up a complete picture of your client:

  • The sport or activity they do
  • Medical history
  • Any symptoms or pain they’re suffering from currently
  • Any competitions or tournaments they’re working towards specifically or are interested in becoming a part of

#2 You’ll Complete Initial Physical Evaluations

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As well as interviewing clients and gathering data to help you decide on how you will work with them, you’ll also be responsible for completing physical assessments.

These evaluations will work in tandem with the information you’ve gathered to keep your client safe and help to prevent any injury.

These evaluations will test:

  • Range of movement
  • Sensitive areas of the body
  • Tissue dysfunction
  • Looking at any pain the client flagged up in the initial assessments

By doing this you’re not only making yourself more aware of potential risks but also areas that need to be targeted and the styles of massage or techniques you might need to use. 

 

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#3 Completing Pre & Post Event Massages

Obviously, this will make up the bulk of your sports massage therapist job description, as you’ll be either working before or after fitness activities to help clients avoid injury and optimise performance.

The capacity in which you do this will entirely depend on who you work with and where. We’ll touch on this in a little more detail later, but as a sports massage therapist, you could work with:

  • Members of the general public
  • Athletes
  • Sports teams

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If you’re working with athletes or team members, you’ll be doing massages often before and after matches or events.

A pre-event massage includes a few things that differentiate from other massage types you might be familiar with, including:

  • Using minimal oil or cream because this can clog the pores and reduce sweating
  • Compression techniques that will encourage blood flow to the muscle
  • Tapotement (technique involving tapping and patting) to stimulate the muscles rather than relax them
  • Performing minimal stretches to prepare the muscles for activity

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A post-event massage is designed to help the body recover from the intensity of exercise and help reduce things like delayed onset muscle soreness (or doms).

In fact, scientific research from the Journal of Athletic Training showed a 30% reduction in doms with the help of sports massage!

#4 Guiding Clients on Stretching, Strengthening, and Rehabilitation

As you can see from the job description below, this is one of the key elements of a sports massage therapist job description:

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Amongst the others mentioned already, this will form a key part of your role as well as being key to recovery and performance for your clients.

You will advise clients on what they should be doing between massages to aid rehabilitation and prevent injury. 

As well as massage you will sometimes design a routine of stretches and strengthening exercises. These will contribute to some of the main rehabilitative benefits of massage including:



#5 Record and Track Clients’ Progress 

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An important part of your role will be to track how clients progress and how they react to massages and treatments throughout your programme of care.

This is one of the most important parts of a sports massage therapist job description because it will help you to adapt your programme based on how clients respond.

The records you keep will include information about the following to help adapt your services:

  • Pain levels
  • Levels of mobility in joints
  • Range of movement
  • Performance (endurance, racing times etc)

You can use this to not only promote and use certain techniques but, by tracking clients’ reactions to massage, you’re also deciding which techniques and methods to rule out to avoid injury.

job advert sports massage therapist job description image

As you can see from this sports massage therapist job description above, recording client notes and tracking progress is something explicitly asked for by potential employers. 

#6 Consult and Work With Other Healthcare Practitioners

As we mentioned earlier, you’ll often be working as part of a broader team of other practitioners as part of your sports massage therapy.

Your job description will not only involve being aware of other care taking place but part of your responsibility might be referring clients for other treatments. 

Working with injured clients may mean liaising with doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals too in order to ensure proper rehabilitation. 

This is why a lot of positions advertised will be from holistic centres that offer several different services:

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As you can see this can be an exciting part of the role and you’ll be working with a huge variety of other practitioners in the role. 


Skills Listed In a Sports Massage Therapist Job Description

As well as knowing exactly what responsibilities are included in an SMT job description, you’ll also need to foster a set of interpersonal and practical skills.

#1 You Need to Be Punctual and Reliable

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Timekeeping will be of maximum importance because wherever you decide to work, and in what capacity, you will be working to a strict schedule.

You may need to be aware of your schedule so that you can fit in your services alongside other therapists, personal trainers, and other fitness professionals who might be working with your client.

Working with a team means your pre-event massages have got to be timed perfectly so no players are late and nothing compromises their readiness for a game or tournament.

As you can see from sports massage therapist job descriptions like below, being reliable and punctual is of paramount importance:

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Most potential employers will stipulate this as one of the key soft skills they’re looking for so it’s worth bearing in mind and fostering in your practice!

#2 You Should be Friendly

Not only is a vital part of the sports massage therapist job description to build rapport, you also want to create a welcoming environment for clients to foster a good first impression

Having a massage can be a vulnerable position for people to be in, whatever it’s for, and so your attitude is key to making them feel at ease and in safe hands.

If you make sure you’re friendly then it will make every element of the job easier. This will help clients trust you and discuss things more openly in the initial assessments.

As we’ve said before, this will shape the whole programme you design and how you work together, and track progress, so being friendly and making a good first impression is vital for your role as an SMT!

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Being friendly, or “warm”, is something mentioned in both of the above job descriptions and is something stipulated time and again in a sports massage therapist job description on job sites!

#3 Develop Good Communication Skills

Communication skills are some of the most important ones to develop because they will be used in every element of your job as a sports massage therapist.

Your job description means communicating directly with your clients about their injuries, their needs, and their development, as well as their performance and how they feel they might be improving over time.

This will also be vital for working as part of a team. You will need to communicate properly with other healthcare and fitness professionals to ensure that exactly the right care programme is provided for clients.

job listing sports massage therapist job description image

This is another key skill that’s outlined in job listings from potential employers so you want to be able to prove you’re a great communicator to fulfil all the key aspects of the SMT job description!

#4 Computer and Admin Skills are Needed

As we mentioned earlier, one of the most important parts of your job as an SMT is keeping accurate records to track the progress of your client.

Most jobs will now require you to have IT skills, and admin skills, in order to both accurately keep records and help with the running and promoting of a particular facility.

It’s important to note some places of work will want you to use IT skills to promote your services and draw more clients.

job 2 sports massage therapy job description

Having at least basic computer skills will be paramount to most positions and will be listed in most job descriptions!

This is especially important for working freelance, which we’ll cover a little more later in the article when we look at “where do sports massage therapists work?”

#5 Be Sensitive and Empathetic With Clients

It’s important to remember that an essential part of a sports massage therapist job description is being aware of the client and the sensitive situation they are in.

Remembering that the role is essentially a clinical one, you’re going to be dealing with people in difficult situations as well as being confidential and respectful of their information.

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That’s why it’s vital that you’re sensitive and show empathy towards your clients.

This will be especially important when working with athletes or members of a sports team that have an injury.

This may be compromising their ability to play or perform so it’s important to remember that you’re there to help but also to understand their situation and how serious it is for them.

This is why a lot of jobs will stipulate this in the person specification of certain roles. One of the ones we looked at earlier includes developing empathy as an important skill they’re looking for in potential employees:

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If you can show that you’re compassionate and understanding of clients’ issues, and the potential effect they have on their career and performance, you’ll have developed one of the key skills for the sports massage therapy job description!

The Qualifications Asked For in a Sports Massage Therapist Job Description

If this sounds like the job for you, and you feel you meet the right personal specification, the next step in knowing what the SMT job description entails is the qualifications you’ll need.

Get Qualified with a Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course

The most important qualification you’ll need is a Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course. This course will provide you with all of the practical and vocational skills you’ll need to become an SMT.

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One of the main components of your learning will be developing knowledge about soft tissue dysfunction. This will be directly applicable when you do your initial assessments as this is something you’ll be looking for in clients.

Knowing the cause and the symptoms, and how sports massage can help influence the healing process, will form the foundation of the sports massage therapist job description.

You’ll learn other practical skills that will help you with clients during massage as well as when you’re guiding them between sessions.

This will include learning:

  • Functional stretching techniques -  these will help when you advise clients on the benefits of dynamic stretches and exercise between massage sessions
  • Principles of injury management - This is another one of the key components of an SMT job description as you’ll need to help prevent injury as well as manage existing ones
  • Rehabilitation - this will involve dealing with injuries and using massage to help clients back to optimum performance through the healing process
  • Principles of exercise - You’ll learn key components of fitness and how the body reacts to exercise. This will help you to understand the physiological effects of the massages you give clients as well as the activities they take part in. 

Obviously, the bulk of your knowledge and training will centre around mastering the practical skills of massage and when, and why, to apply certain techniques.

What to Look For in a Sports Massage Therapy Course

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One of the unique parts of our course here at OriGym is the support you’ll get after qualifying, which will be vital for understanding the sports massage therapist job description.

When you’re looking for a course, you want to make sure you choose one like ours that offers plenty of post course support. 

We offer the following help to make sure you’re prepared to seamlessly apply your qualification in a professional setting:

  • CV reviews
  • Mock interviews
  • Career advice
  • Guaranteed alumni interviews with leading health and fitness brands across the UK

As you’ll have already seen, most jobs will tell you skills and responsibilities they’re looking for in a sports massage therapist. 

Your job description starts with being able to display your expertise and readiness in an interview, which is why we help prepare you as best as possible!

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Most job listings will not just ask you to be qualified but will ask you to specifically have a Level 3 or equivalent, so that they can be sure you have the exact criteria needed.

The levels on courses like ours are regulated by Ofqual, a government body who ensure that all courses of this level contain the same knowledge across the board.

As you can see below, this is why it’s important to make sure you’ve got a regulated course because a particular level is something potential employers will ask for:

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This will guarantee to potential employers that you’re provided with all of the right skills and knowledge for the sports massage job description.

If you’re finding our sports massage therapy job description helpful, why not check out OriGym’s other articles on SMT?

Experience Asked For in an SMT Job Description

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A lot of sports massage therapists come from sports backgrounds themselves and so usually some knowledge of the fitness industry will help prepare you for the role.

Not only does this indicate to potential employers that you’re passionate about fitness and helping develop performance, it also means you’ve been aware of the sports massage therapist job description and know that it’s the right path for you!

So, you will need to have knowledge of different sporting disciplines as a sports massage therapist. A job description will often require this experience and you can gain that by:

 

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Whichever method you choose, it’s a good idea to get some variety. Not only will this give you a more impressive roster of experience but it will also help you decide where, or who with, you might like to work.

Getting work experience like this will also help you understand the job description of an SMT better, and figure out exactly what you’ll be doing day to day by interacting with existing therapists through volunteering and other positions. 

You’ll need additional qualifications if you want to combine SMT with personal training. You can find out more information from OriGym’s article on how to become a personal trainer.

There’s also volunteering positions and internship opportunities you should keep your eyes open for, to get a more hands on idea of the sports massage therapist job.

This description below, from Clinic4Sport, details some of the opportunities that can come from completing one of these positions:

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Getting experience this way can be a great way of gaining insight into how you would work at sporting events or directly with athletes.

As you can see, through this opportunity you would work at a variety of different events helping with massage and stretching, which are two of the main components of the SMT job description.

Hours Included in a Sports Massage Therapist Job Description

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The hours that you work will depend entirely on where you work and who you work with. We’ll cover the details of different kinds of work in “where do sports massage therapists work”.

For now though, the main thing to be aware of is you can either work full time or part time. You can do this either by working in a salaried, hired position in one venue, or working freelance.

As a freelance worker, you might choose to work across several venues or just one. These are the most common positions available and are a great way to start and build your reputation.

If you’re working freelance your hours can be entirely down to you. There will be a minimum amount of guaranteed hours you’ll have to work 

Whether you have additional ones, in other venues, or build up your reputation in the same one, is entirely up to you!

As you can see from the job description below, a sports massage therapist at a holistic facility will usually work in this way:

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You will essentially be self-employed, which comes with some added responsibilities.

You will sometimes be responsible for bringing in your own clients or a fitness facility will help you to source clients by promoting your services. 

Another option is working full time. The hours you work will depend on the opening hours of the particular venue you’re working in but you’ll be working between 37 and 40 hours per week.

Because people tend to fit appointments like this around their own working schedules, expect to work either earlier than 9am or later than 5pm to cater for this and fit clients in!

As you can see, plenty of sports massage therapist job descriptions will include this in their listings so that you’re aware before you apply:

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Your hours will be affected by opening times if you work part time too. As you can see from the above position, you may work between 7am and 7.20pm depending on the shift you’re assigned.

A part time position will often be on a rotational basis any time between these opening hours and so some positions will need you to be adaptable.

If you own your own clinic, or work independently, your hours will be entirely up to you and you can work around part time positions, or freelance positions, whilst you build up your reputation.

Also, if you’re working for a sports team or athlete, you might have to be on hand at competitions which can be quite intense over a short amount of time so that’s something to be aware of if you’re interested in the higher calibre positions!

How Much Can You Earn As An SMT?

Just like the hours you work, your earnings will be dependent on where you work and what capacity you work in.

Average Salary of a Sports Massage Therapist

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It’s important to remember that when it comes to earnings, working out an average sports massage salary is difficult to determine for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Averages are calculated only using jobs listed on particular websites
  • Averages don’t necessarily take into account experience levels
  • Salaries vary by location - people in London typically earn more because of the higher cost of living

Despite this, however, there’s some figures we can look at to get an estimate of the amount you could be earning.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a sports massage therapist is £33,955:

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Though this is only based on 41 salaries being declared, by people already in the industry, this gives you an idea of the earning potential if you take up a salaried position.

According to Total Jobs, the average hourly rate is as follows:

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This gives you a rough idea of the average people can charge if they’re working independently or freelance. 

If you charge only slightly above average, like this position below at £20 an hour, you would only have to do two massages a day to bring in £1,120 a month:

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There’s even a possibility in this position that your earnings per hour will increase once you’ve passed a probationary period.

Part of the sports massage therapist job description, especially when you start out, is building a name for yourself and getting as much experience as possible. You could do this alongside your other, current work whilst you build up your practice and client list!

This is why freelance is a great place to start as an SMT! You can get more experience, across a huge variety of locations, and garner more clients and charge more as a result!

Salary For Working With High Calibre Teams and Athletes

The other highest paying sports massage therapist positions are those working for high-end teams and athletes!

The average salary, or even an exact figure for the upper limits of these positions, is equally difficult to quantify because it will depend on the calibre of the team or athlete you’re working for.

Obviously the more successful the team or athlete you work for is, the higher the earning potential. The reputation of the competition itself too, such as the Olympic games, will affect your earnings.

Massage Physio has worked with some huge names and represent one of the sports massage clinics working with reputable teams:

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 Looking at their packages, and the price of individual massages, shows just how much you can afford to charge when you’ve worked with clients like this:

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That’s why sports massage is one of the highest paid fitness jobs. Once you’ve built up a reputation you can afford to charge more and attract bigger clients.



Where Do Sports Massage Therapists Work?

There’s a variety of locations you can work in as a sports massage therapist and the job description entails adaptability and willingness to work in a range of environments.

Working For a Sports Team or Athlete

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Though there are some opportunities to work with high-end teams and bigger names, you don’t just have to work with a professional team like a premiership football team. 

Whilst you’re building up your experience, if it’s this particular SMT job description you’re interested in, you can work with:

  • Amateur teams
  • Local teams
  • Teams out of universities or colleges

You may also work with individual members of teams if you’re working out of a clinic because they may come to you individually for help with an injury or rehabilitation.

You can also work individually with athletes locally but massage is also a huge part of some of the most prestigious competitions such as the Olympics.

Though it’s rare for there to be in-house positions with teams, it’s worth keeping these in mind as they do occasionally crop up, like this one from Burnley Football Club:

burnley sports massage therapist job description image

As you can see, the job description for a sports massage therapist for a sports team includes a lot of what we’ve already covered plus a few additional responsibilities involving:

  • Promoting the club and its ethos
  • Equality and diversity training and promotion
  • Understanding team specific safeguarding policies



Work as a Sports Massage Therapist in a Gym

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Usually these positions are available in high end, luxury gyms and fitness franchises that offer other spa treatments or different sports therapy treatments.

As a freelancer, you’d rent a space in a gym or fulfil a certain amount of hours in exchange for the space, as well as sourcing your own clients.

Working as an employee of a gym, your SMT job description would be to offer in-house sports massages to members of the gym. 

These positions are often advertised and there’s a variety of part time, full time, and freelance positions available.

Working in a gym, part of your job description as a sports massage therapist might be to help with the day to day running of the gym as well as fostering relationships with other professionals.

 

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This is why it’s a great place to network with PTs and other health and fitness practitioners.

You would offer sports massage to members of the gym before or after they do a workout. You won’t necessarily be working towards a particular competition but helping people holistically during exercise.

That’s why people also often combine SMT with personal training, because it allows them to work with clients for longer even when they become injured or need help developing their performance.

This position from David Lloyd Leisure illustrates the kind of high-end gym environment you can expect to work in if this is the avenue you choose to go down:

david lloyd sports massage therapist job description image



Starting Your Own Sports Massage Clinic

Another option to be aware of  is the opportunity to start your own clinic dedicated solely to sports massage.

The bulk of this sports massage therapy job description will be the same as in others. You will work with sports teams, athletes, or individual clients to help them with injuries or help prepare themselves for sports and general athletic activity.

There’s a few extra things to bear in mind though if you’re going to open your own clinic.

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Part of the job description for an SMT with their own clinic is the added responsibility of the following:

This is a great goal for further in your career when you’ve got plenty of experience and you’ve networked with plenty of clients and other fitness professionals to go it alone!

Before You Go!

Hopefully our guide on a sports massage therapist job description has explained everything you need to know if you’re interested in the role!

Don’t forget to enquire about our Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course to get your career going today!

If you’re feeling inspired by some of the combinations we mentioned, with other fitness roles and careers, download our free course prospectus to see the full range of what we offer.

Written by Jessie Florence Jones

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Jessie has a 1st class honours degree in English Literature from University of Leeds and an MA in English Literature from Durham University. Naturally Jessie has a real passion for writing especially about film, culture and wellbeing. Outside of writing she loves hiking, country walks and yoga, which she has been doing religiously over lockdown.

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