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ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage

Course Syllabus

There are 5 units that you will study on your Level 3 sports massage course, listed below.

iUSP160 - Anatomy and physiology for sports massage:

View the full syllabus here

Understand the anatomy, physiology and pathologies of each system:

  • Organisation of the body
  • Cells
  • Skin
  • Skeletal
  • Joints
  • Muscular
  • Cardiovascular
  • Respiratory
  • Digestive
  • Neurological/Nervous
  • Endocrine
  • Lymphatic
  • Urinary
  • Effects of sports massage on the body systems

Unit iUSP178 - Sports Massage Treatments:

Click here to view full ITEC Syllabus

Learners will gain the knowledge, theory and skills to understand and apply:

  • The history, origins and development of sports massage
  • Sports massage techniques and how to apply them as sports massage treatments
  • Equipment and its adaptation/modification in relation to different environments and events.
  • Identifying contra-indications and contra-actions before, during and after massage treatment
  • Assessing and screening clients for sports massage treatments
  • Consultation and client assessment recording methods
  • Devising a suitable massage strategy for each client and their specific needs/requirements and carry out an effective and safe treatment.
  • Develop and ensure good posture whilst working and making effective use of massage equipment, including massage couch, oils and massage mediums.
  • Working to good professional standards of practice, ensuring that hygiene and sterilisation is observed at all times.
  • Monitoring client communication and feedback.
  • Evaluating the outcomes and effectiveness of the massage strategy and treatment in every case.
  • Post massage analysis and aftercare advice and guidance.

Techniques will include :

  • Effleurage
  • Petrissage
  • Friction
  • Tapotement
  • Hacking/Cupping
  • Vibration
  • Neuro-Muscular Technique (NMT)
  • Pre/Post/Inter-Event Massage
  • Other specific sports massage techniques (Connective Tissue Massage (CTM), Cross fibre friction, Compressions etc)
  • Trigger Point Therapy

Assignment 1: Unit iUSP174 Principles of Health and Fitness

Click here to view ITEC Assignment Guidance

Students will be able to understand the following:

  • The benefits of an active healthy lifestyle
  • The effects of exercise on the body
  • The components of fitness
  • The principles of training
  • Nutrition - the role of micro/macro nutrients, hydration and healthy eating and how this relates to growth, repair and injury.

This unit will be set as a combination of online learning resources and home assignment work.

Assignment 2: Unit iUSP150 Professional Practice in Sports Massage

Click here to view ITEC Assignment Guidance

To include-

  • Sports Massage Legislation
  • Scope of practice in the sports massage industry, including awareness and understanding of caution, contra-indications, referrals and interface with other professionals and therapists.
  • Professional Standards and regulations, pertinent to the industry
  • Legal obligations, legislation and client record keeping

This unit will be set as a combination of online learning resources and home assignment work

Assignment 3: Unit iUSP181 Understand the Principles of Soft Tissue Dysfunction

Click here to view ITEC Assignment Guidance

Soft tissue refers to the tissues that connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body, other than bone. This includes tendons, ligaments and muscle fascia, amongst other tissue. Learners will therefore understand:

  • Soft Tissue Dysfunction and the process of repair of this tissue, including causes and types of injury and damage.
  • The difference between Soft Tissue Injury and Dysfunction.

This unit will be set as a combination of online learning resources and home assignment work.

Course Overview

ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage Course

Discover the world of sports massage with our comprehensive ITEC Level 3 Sports Massage course at the Cotswold Academy. Our program is meticulously designed to provide you with a profound understanding of the human body, underpinned by anatomy and physiology, all within the highest industry standards.


+ About This Course

+ What's Included in our Sports Massage Courses

+ Choosing How and When to Study your Sports Massage Course

+ Your Journey at a Glance

Assessment Criteria

After your sports massage course days, you'll complete home-based studies and assignments. You'll provide evidence of these, and submit upon your return to the Academy for final exams, typically taken 3-4 months later.

Exam blocks are held every 3 months, students have the flexibility to register for an exam block once they feel prepared and have completed the folderwork.

To effectively prepare, we recommend dedicating approximately 5-10 hours per week to complete your case studies, theory studies, and assignments.

Folder Work / Portfolio

You'll be required to complete the following after your clasroom days:

  • 25 Case Study Treatments (5 individual, each receiving treatments 5 times - to cover different areas of the body)
  • Plus 10 individual treatments - to include practice of pre and post event massage
  • Writing 3 assignments (Unit iUSP174,iUSP150, iUSP181) - estimate of 2500+ words each


  • "Mock" Practical Exam (scheduled 2 weeks before the practical exam, allowing you a practice run and providing feedback from your tutor for improvement)
  • Practical Exam, externally invigilated by ITEC
  • Anatomy & Physiology Theory Paper – 50 multiple choice questions

Entry Requirements

No Previous Experience Required

Already completed an Anatomy and Physiology qualification or similar assignments in another qualification?

If a student already holds a recognisable Anatomy & Physiology qualification, there might be an opportunity for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for the A&P Unit. RPL could also be considered for assignments completed as part of another Level 3 RQF qualification. However, specific criteria need to be met:

  • It must be a regulated qualification
  • Qualifications must be less than 3 years old
  • minimum of 80% of the syllabus must match like-for-like

It's important to note that if RPL is granted, the student will only receive a "Pass" mark; no Merit or Distinction will be awarded.

There's an official RPL process initiated with ITEC after enrollment, involving a fee of £35+VAT (charged by ITEC for the service).

Please get in contact to begin the RPL process or check if your qualification is eligible. Alternatively, you can opt to "self-study" the A&P unit and still sit the exam element with us. 

Books for Study


Trail Guide to the Body: How to Locate Muscles- Andrew Biel 5th or 6th Edition

ISBN: 0-9658534-5-4

Trail Guide to the Body

Sports Massage - Susan Findlay

ISBN: 978-0-7360-8260-0

The Complete Guide to Sports Massage - Tim Paine - 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-4729-2332-9

The Complete Guide To Sports Massage

The Complete Guide to Strength Training - Anita Bean - 4th Edition

ISBN: 978-1-408-10539-9

Strength Training

Postural Assessment - Jane Johnson

ISBN - 978 1450400961

Postural Assessment

Why Train with Us

At the Academy, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality in Complementary Therapies and Sports Massage courses, ensuring that each student attains the highest level of professional qualification. What sets us apart is our unwavering commitment to your success.

Here's why you should choose us:

1. ITEC Accredited Course: Ensuring highest quality training.

2. Guaranteed Small Group Tuition: We believe in personalised support, so our class sizes are kept small, with a maximum of 10 students per tutor. This ensures that you receive individual attention and guidance throughout your training.

3. Passionate, Experienced Tutors: Our experienced tutors are not just educators; they are industry experts committed to upholding the highest standards. You'll learn from the best in the field.

4. Free Thursday Evening Support: Your learning journey doesn't end when you're qualified. We offer free Thursday in person evening support, available both during your training and after you've earned your certification. We're here to assist you every step of the way.

5. A Positive, Inclusive Learning Environment: Our academy provides a fun and friendly atmosphere where you can immerse yourself in your studies and connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for complementary therapies.

6. Exclusive student TOTUM Card Eligibility: All our courses qualify you to apply for a TOTUM card, granting you access to discounts and savings at various retailers, making your educational journey even more cost-effective.

7. Ongoing Industry Support: We are committed to your success as a qualified therapist. Beyond your training, we offer free talks on setting up your own practice, provide access to exclusive Facebook groups with job opportunities, and maintain regular contact with your dedicated tutor. We're here to support your journey into the industry.

When you choose the Academy, you're not just choosing a training college; you're choosing a pathway to a successful and fulfilling career in Complementary Therapies. Join us today and embark on a journey of knowledge, growth, and achievement.

About Your Tutor(s)

Chris Phillips


The Academy has a proud history as a private training provider in the complementary health sector for the last twenty five years.

One of my core beliefs at The Academy concerns training standards. I believe there is a real need to further raise and develop credibility in our industry, so that more clients can benefit from high professional standards. We can contribute to this by sharing our knowledge and working experiences with each other. This is the main drive behind my weekly evening groups; Thursday Evenings.

I trained as a Massage and Sports Therapist in 2000 and have been developing my private practice from my home just outside Northleach in the Cotswolds ever since. In 2006 I completed my Certificate in Further Education Teaching (CFET1) and I have been teaching Sports and Remedial Massage ITEC Level 3 & 4 here at the Academy since. I have a background of working with young troubled people and their families in a therapeutic setting, both as key worker and as a manager and supervising and training staff.

Tamara Howard

Sports Massage Tutor

I completed both my iTEC Levels 3 & 4 in Sports & Remedial Massage Therapy at the Academy in 2018 and have gone on to do further CPD courses here to enhance my ’toolbox’ as a Therapist.  The exceptional level of training I received, as well as the ongoing support, has enabled me to build a successful business in a short space of time.

It’s an honour to be teaching a subject that I love and am so passionate about, to the high standard set by the Academy, and being part of other peoples journey into the industry.


I just thought I’d send a quick testimonial through. I attended the Cotswold Academy Sep ’20 completing the Level 3 Sports Massage with Chris. Since then, last year I relocated and started a new role within a Chiropractic clinic, in Devon. It’s been a whole new life change and I have the team and Cotswold Academy to thank for that. Setting me up with more than enough knowledge, tools and confidence to become a soft tissue specialist. Since joining the team, I’m the newest Massage Therapist to the trade but have been promoted to Senior Therapist and I couldn’t be happier. I’m fully booked, months at a time. I’m excited to see where journey is heading from here.So thank you. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. 

Laura Harwood - Level 3 Sports Massage | May 2022

I attended the Level 3 Sports Massage course at the Academy in July 2021. I really enjoyed my time learning with Chris and I hope to keep in contact and attend the Thursday evening sessions to further my learning.

The classroom learning was very intimate and perfect for both people with no experience in sports massage and for those who have been in the industry for years.

After working through the course I feel confident with my understanding and skills to deliver a professional and competent treatment, this is reflective of the high standard of teaching at the Academy.

I would like to thank the staff for all their help both in the class room and through the online learning support platform.

Henry Trinder- Sports Massage | July 2021

Really professional outfit. High quality level of instruction and a huge number of useful resources on the website. When I first signed up, I was called by a tutor asking if I needed anything and giving me a number to call if I ever needed support. Admin side of the shop is swept-up too - any issues dealt with swiftly.  Despite imposition of restrictive covid safety measures, they have adapted well and cracked on. Highly recommended organisation for any service leaver. 

James - Sports Massage | Sept 2020

I found the Cotswold Academy team incredibly supportive and very knowledgeable and continue to provide support after the course is completed to help develop knowledge and understanding further in my chosen subject and provide a point of contact to help with an future issues or questions, I would highly recommend them as a provider for anyone looking for a change of career after leaving the army. I feel the course tutors went above and beyond what was required of them.

— Michelle Hordern- L3 Sports Massage | January 2019

Course was absolutely excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish and teaching was to a very high standard. Chris clearly knows the profession extremely well and is able to communicate and explain things effectively and clearly. Chris is very patient, outgoing and approachable, I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in Sports Massage

— Chris Heffernon - Sports Masage | May 2017

Thanks to everyone for a great course - I really enjoyed myself and thought that the course was very thorough and spot on . It was great to be able to come in on the Thursdays for practice and I would definitely recommend the course to anyone. Chris is a great tutor and a lot of fun .

— Lizzie Bendle- Level 3 Sports Massage | May 2017

It’s been a week since I’ve finished the Sports Massage fast track course, and I really wanted to drop a line to say thanks to you and the whole team - particularly Chris & Claire. Whilst super intense, it was an incredible two weeks - I don’t think I’ve ever learnt so much or worked so hard - but I enjoyed every minute (I was concentrating so much I probably just looked worried most of the time!). The time and energy they spent with us has been invaluable and the feedback I’ve received from friends and family I’ve been using as guinea pigs is really positive. I certainly wasn’t expecting the course to be quite as good and thorough as it was, and I’m so relieved it has already given me more confidence to practice.

— Nicola Roberts - Level 3 Sports Massage | September 2016

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Frequently asked questions

+ Are there different levels of sports massage qualifications?

+ How long does it take to complete a sports massage qualification?

+ Do I need to be licensed or certified to practice sports massage?

+ Can I study sports massage online?

+ Are sports massage courses accredited or recognised in the UK?

+ What is sports massage, and how does it differ from other forms of massage?

+ What are the career prospects for sports massage therapists in the UK?

+ Do I need prior experience in massage therapy to enroll in a sports massage course?