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ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage

Course Syllabus

Unit iUSP160: Anatomy and Physiology for Sports Massage

(to be studied via e-learning or additional class days prior/alongside the course)

View the full ITEC syllabus here

  • Organisation of the body including cells
  • Skin
  • Skeletal
  • Joints 
  • Muscular
  • Nervous System
  • Endocrine System
  • Cardiovascular
  • Respiratory System
  • Lymphatic System
  • Digestive System
  • Urinary system
  • Effects of Massage on body systems
  • Muscle contraction terminology

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 class handouts 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 classroom handouts 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 classroom lectures and home assignment work

Unit UIP4: Infection Prevention (COVID-19) for complementary therapies and sports massage

The aim of this unit is to develop the learner’s knowledge and understanding of how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and how to work safely. Learners will develop knowledge on the importance of social responsibility, the causes, transmission and effects of COVID-19, and the methods used to control transmission, such as correct hand hygiene and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They will also gain an understanding of the safe working practices required to protect themselves and their clients.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, learners will:

  • LO1 Understand the causes, transmission and effects of COVID-19
  • LO2 Understand social responsibility for the complementary therapy and sports massage sectors in relation to COVID-19
  • LO3 Understand the controls necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • LO4 Understand the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Hand Hygiene and Personal Hygiene in the prevention of COVID-19
  • LO5 Understand potential hazards and risks and the workplace procedures necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the complementary therapy/sports massage environment
  • LO6 Understand decontamination and waste management processes relevant to complementary therapies and sports massage

Course Overview

ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage

Learn sports massage underpinned by anatomy and physiology within the highest industry standards. Gain a professional sports massage qualification through a blend of interactive online home study and classroom attendance.

Designed for the complete beginner the foundation of the iTEC Level 3 is your understanding of how the body functions and heals itself. You will learn Anatomy & Physiology (via e-learning or additional classroom days) about the body cells, skin, skeletal, muscular, vascular, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, digestive, respiratory and urinary systems. We recommend the e-learning option if you want to get started straight away!

You will learn postural assessment, range of movement tests and developing your basic massage hand skills as well as myofascial release techniques/deep friction/trigger point therapy. You will develop a foundation in understanding the core benefits of sports massage and how the body heals itself from injury.

Ideal for anyone looking to begin a new career or have a new income stream alongside an existing career. Upon successful completion of this course, you will be a professional Level 3 sports massage therapist and will be able to gain insurance to practice upon the general public and gain membership of professional associations.  The ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage is an internationally recognised qualification enabling you to work in the following settings:

  •     In your own private practice, as a self-employed practitioner.
  •     In a salon, clinic, health club, spa or hotel.

This course will also allow you to progress onto the ITEC Level 4 Certificate in Sports Massage and then ITEC Level 5 Certificate in Sports Massage.

Additionally, once qualified at Level 3, you will be able to continue your journey as a therapist adding to your skill base with CPD (Continued Professional Development) short courses. We offer a host of 1 and 2 day courses such as pregnancy massagehot stone therapy and myofascial cupping, to enhance your treatments and build a truly unique business that excites you and allows you to explore this incredible industry.

What's included:

  • ITEC Level 3 Anatomy & Physiology online 'e-learning' via interactive presentations, videos, written materials and quizzes (or select to study in the classroom on additional contact days)
  • 5 days classroom tuition - learning the practical hand skills and consultation process required to be a sports massage therapist.
  • ITEC Level 2 Award in Infection Prevention for complementary and sports massage therapists online 'e-learning' via interactive presentations
  • Biweekly (Sports Massage) and Tri-weekly (A&P) Zoom study sessions with your tutor (optional to attend)
  • Weekly access to 'Thursday Evenings' - a space to come and practice, learn from others and be a part of a community of therapists
  • Small class groups (8-10 max) providing maximum support for each student
  • ITEC Registration & final exam fees are all included in the course cost
  • Access to our private Facebook group with local job opportunities and equipment listings
  • Free Business Building workshops

For more detail please click on the course syllabus tab.

Choosing how and when to study:

You can select how you'd like to study the Anatomy & Physiology unit of your course below (this defaults to e-learning) but you can change this to classroom learning and select your preferred dates for attendance. 

If you select to study the A&P via e-learning, you will have access immediately to the online home study that you can work through at your own pace. This will be delivered to you via videos, interactive presentations, written materials and quizzes. You will have access to Zoom catchup sessions every 3 weeks, specifically supporting you through the A&P element of your course. 

You will also have instant access to the sports massage online study designed to introduce you to postural assessment, range of movement tests and developing your basic massage hand skills as well as the history, benefits and contraindications of sports massage.

Your 5 days classroom attendance can be selected from the date options below. Take a look at the Assessment Criteria tab for more information on coursework and examination requirements.

This qualification also includes the ITEC Level 2 Award in Infection Prevention for complementary and sports massage therapists which is now a pre-requisite for all ITEC courses. Details of the unit can be found on the course syllabus tab.

Assessment Criteria

You will be required to complete a number of treatments/case studies at home after your course and supply the evidences of these. You can use family, friends, friends of friends etc to complete these. You will then return to the Academy to sit your final exams usually 3-4 months after your course contact days. 

We recommend around 5-10 hours of home study a week to complete your case studies, theory study and assignments.

Folder work/Evidences

After your contact days, you will complete: 

  • 9 Case Studies (Treatment Evidences of 3 people x 3 times)
  • Plus 20 individual treatments logged in consultation forms
  • 3 x assignments (Unit iUSP174,iUSP150, iUSP181) - 2500 word minimum each (these can be started during the home study element of your course)


You will then return to the Academy to sit your exams (usually 3-4 months after your course):

  • "Mock" Practical Exam (usually 2-3 weeks before the “real” practical exam. This is to allow you a practice run, and for your tutor to give you feedback on areas to work on.)
  • Practical Exam, externally invigilated by ITEC (usually 3-4 months after the course contact days).
  • A&P for Sports Massage - 25 question multiple choice paper
  • Multiple choice question paper (sat remotely) on Infection Prevention (COVID-19) for complementary therapies and sports massage

Entry Requirements

No Previous Experience Required

If you have not yet studied a Level 3 Diploma in Anatomy and Physiology, you can study this along side your Sports Massage course via e-learning or classroom learning. If you need advice on whether you need to do your A+P qualification, please get in contact.

If you already hold a Diploma in Anatomy and Physiology, you may not need to enrol onto the Anatomy & Physiology part of this course. All students will however still sit the A&P exam as this is specific to Sports Massage; we will advise you on the content of the A&P Theory exam so you can self study/revise in preparation- the exam will not be taken until after the course contact days. Please select "Self-Study" option for how you would like to study A&P.

Why Train with Us

Here at the Academy, we are passionate about delivering quality training in Complementary Therapies to ensure each student gains a professional qualification of the highest level. We believe the combination of expertly trained, passionate tutors,  quality assured certification, and our on-going support for students, helps grow our students into highly successful therapists.

What set's us apart from the rest...?

  • iTEC Accredited 
  • Guaranteed small group tuition (max 10 per 1 tutor) for maximum individual support
  • Passionate, experienced tutors committed to the highest standards in the industry
  • Free Thursday evening support - available throughout your training and when you are qualified
  • A fun, friendly environment to study and meet like minded people
  • All our courses are eligible to apply for an NUS Extra card, giving you savings on lots of retailers.
  • We continue to support you as you make your way into the industry as a qualified therapist, with free talks on setting up a business, Facebook groups with job opportunities and continued contact with your Tutor

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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