I have overseen the training of thousands of successful Sports Massage therapists since I started the industry with the first ever training course in the late 1980’s (and I’m still a hands-on therapist today). But it saddens me to see how many training organisations have now jumped on the band-wagon and the competition between them has turned into a race to the bottom with their short and online courses.
Okay, it’s not really a scam because they are not intentionally trying to rip you off but they just don’t understand how Sports Massage needs to be taught and so they give out misleading information. They say you can be a successful professional therapist with their ‘qualification’ but it is with a level of training that I know is inadequate for the job and will be a waste of money for most people who do these courses.
They may be good enough to give a very basic general massage to active people who have no injuries and are in good health. But it can be hard not to cross that line and many do, going beyond their training, scope of practice and insurance cover, with potentially serious consequences. But if they stay within this limited scope of practice the market is so small that there is little chance of earning very much.
Mistakes to avoid
Short and Online courses:
You can only learn practical hands-on clinical skills on a classroom-based training programme taught by successful therapist/tutors who can help you develop you own abilities and share their clinical experiences with you. Here you also have the opportunity to practice with fellow students and share the learning experience with them. And it must take time (at least 6 months) to practice to develop the good quality hands-on skills and clinical awareness that is essential for success.
We would never recommend online courses because you might think you are doing what you see on the screen but how can you tell? Who’s there to spot and correct your mistakes? And the video may show what to do with your hands but what about the way you move the rest of your body? Training videos can be very good for additional learning support but they should never replace the classroom experience.
Live online classes, even one-to-one, don’t work either. During the Covid lockdown we tried this but it was never a very effective training method compared with the classroom experience.
Qualification Levels and Accreditation
Many courses claim to be Level 3 or 4 or 5 but unless they are properly accredited by an Ofqual recognised Awarding Organisation this claim is meaningless and should not be trusted. You can check this yourself at The Register of Regulated Qualifications: Home page (ofqual.gov.uk)
Level 3 Sports Massage
Under Ofqual regulations, a Level 3 qualification is equivalent to a high-school A level and is only enough for basic massage on healthy and uninjured people but they don’t tell you this and let you assume something more. But those seeking Sports Massage treatment usually do so because they have a minor (or more) injury and are therefore outside the scope of practice and training for a Level 3 trained therapist.
Boasting of a 95+% pass rate
This claim means either the course is so basic and easy that it is virtually impossible to fail, or that it does not matter how well you do on the course because they will give you the qualification regardless. No respectable training provider should make such a claim.
Based on my 35+ years of clinical and teaching experience I believe that if you want a viable career opportunity in Sports Massage then don’t be tempted by a short and/or online course because it will not give you the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.
For the most in-depth professional training in Sports Massage and more:
London & Southampton – www.lssm.com
Exeter & Bristol – www.thestschool.co.uk
Oxford – www.ossm.co.uk
Cambridge - www.thecssm.co.uk