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ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage

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.


This sports massage course is ideal for beginners, you'll embark on a detailed journey, with in-depth modules covering the body's intricacies, including the cells, skin, skeletal, muscular, vascular, lymphatic, nervous, endocrine, digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems.

Through a blend of interactive online home study and classroom attendance, you'll develop hands-on skills, including postural assessment, range of movement tests, and foundational massage techniques like myofascial release, deep friction, and trigger point therapy. As you progress, you'll gain insight into the core benefits of sports massage and how the body's natural healing processes work.

Upon successful completion, you'll be a certified Level 3 sports massage therapist, opening the doors to exciting career opportunities. You can choose to begin your own practice or work in established settings such as salons, clinics, health clubs, spas, or hotels. This qualification also sets the stage for further advancement, as you can pursue our ITEC Level 4 and Level 5 Certificates in Sports Massage courses.

Moreover, once you reach Level 3, your learning journey doesn't stop there. You can continue to expand your skill set with our Continued Professional Development (CPD) short courses, including specialised treatments like pregnancy massage, hot stone therapy, and myofascial cupping. These courses not only enhance your offerings but also enable you to create a unique and thriving business in the dynamic world of massage therapy. Join us at the Cotswold Academy and elevate your career in sports massage.

  • Comprehensive ITEC Level 3 Anatomy & Physiology program available online through engaging e-learning modules, featuring interactive presentations, informative videos, written resources, and quizzes. Alternatively, you can opt to attend classroom sessions on designated contact days.
  • Access to online Sports Massage theory course materials, to be completed before your in-person classroom sessions. These e-learning modules comprise interactive presentations, instructional videos, written materials, and quizzes to ensure your thorough understanding.
  • Six days of classroom instruction, focusing on developing your practical massage techniques and mastering the consultation process essential for becoming a skilled sports massage therapist.
  • A smart polo shirt, provided on the first day of your classroom attendance.
  • Optional biweekly Zoom study sessions for Sports Massage and tri-weekly sessions for Anatomy & Physiology, offering valuable opportunities to engage with your tutor and fellow students.
  • Weekly 'Thursday Evenings', where you can gather to practice, learn from peers, and become a part of our vibrant therapist community.
  • Small class sizes with a maximum of 8-10 students, ensuring personalised attention and support throughout your learning journey.
  • ITEC Registration & final exam fees are all included in the course cost
  • Access to our private Facebook group, featuring local job opportunities and listings for essential equipment.
  • Free Business Building workshops designed to help you launch and grow your practice.

For more detail please click on the course syllabus tab.

Customise Your Anatomy & Physiology Learning Experience:

At theCotswold Academy, we offer you the flexibility to choose how you'd like to study the Anatomy & Physiology (A&P) component of your course. By default, this unit is available for e-learning, but you have the option to switch to classroom learning and select your preferred attendance dates.

If you opt for e-learning, you'll gain instant access to our comprehensive online A&P curriculum. Designed to be self-paced, you can delve into the materials at your convenience. This means you can explore the A&P unit before, during, and after your classroom contact days. Our e-learning package includes a variety of resources, such as videos, interactive presentations, written materials, and quizzes. Additionally, you'll have access to Zoom catchup sessions every three weeks, offering valuable support specifically tailored to the A&P portion of your course.

Access to your Sports Massage Course Learning Materials:

Furthermore, you'll have immediate access to our online sports massage study. This section is thoughtfully designed to introduce you to crucial aspects, including postural assessment, range of movement tests, the development of fundamental massage skills, and an exploration of the history, benefits, and contraindications of sports massage. We recommend that students spend approximately 2-4 weeks before their classroom dates to review this learning content.

For your 6 days of classroom attendance, you have two options to choose from:

  1. Fast Track: This option allows you to attend 6 consecutive classroom days, granting you the opportunity to start your coursework right after completing your classroom sessions.
  2. Mon/Tues/Weds OR Weds/Thur/Fri: Opting for this course date format means you'll attend your 6 classroom days, usually spanning two weeks on consecutive Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (or Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays). You can commence your coursework toward the conclusion of your classroom days.

Explore the 'Assessment Criteria' tab for a detailed breakdown of coursework and examination requirements. At the Cotswold Academy, we empower you to tailor your learning journey according to your needs and preferences.

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

Learners will 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.

Assessment Criteria

After completing your sports massage class days, you'll begin home-based studies and assignments.These must be submitted upon your return to the Academy for final exams.

Students are able to register for their final exams, having completed the required folder work which as an estimate takes an average of 3-4 months. To prepare adequately, it's suggested to allocate 5-10 hours per week for case studies, theory studies, and assignments.

Folder Work / Portfolio:

  • 25 Case Study Treatments (5 individual cases, each receiving 5 treatments covering different body areas)
  • 10 individual treatments, including pre and post-event massage practice
  • Writing 3 assignments (Units iUSP174, iUSP150, iUSP181), each approximately 2500+ words


  • "Mock" Practical Exam (2 weeks before the actual exam, for practice and tutor feedback)
  • Practical Exam, externally invigilated by ITEC
  • Anatomy & Physiology Theory Paper: 50 multiple choice questions

Entry Requirements

No Previous Experience Required

If you already hold a recognised Level 3 Anatomy & Physiology qualification, you may be eligible for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) subject to specific criteria:

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

We'll initiate the official RPL process with ITEC after enrollment, involving a fee of £35+VAT. Contact us to begin or check your qualification's eligibility. Alternatively, you can self-study the A&P unit and just sit the exam 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

My journey into this industry started 7 years ago when I qualified in both my iTEC Levels 3 & 4 in Sports Massage here at The Cotswold Academy.  Alongside developing and running my private practice in Purton, I have been driven to continally develop my knowledge and skills in order enhance my 'toolbox' as a Therapist and gone on to study and qualifiy in Advanced Clinical Massage Therapy, Myofascial Cupping, Hot & Cold Stone Therapy, Pregnancy Massage, Kinesiology Taping, Trigger Point Therapy, Acupuncture for Sporting Injuries, Advanced Dry Needling, Medical Acupuncture and Aromatherapy.

I have been part of the dedicated and passionate team of tutors at The Cotswold Academy since 2019.  It’s an honour to be teaching subjects that I love, to the high standard set by the Academy, and being part of other people's journey into this exciting 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

Yes, there are different levels of sports massage qualifications, the entry point being a Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage, and the ability to advance your skills to a Level 4 and Level 5 Certificate in Sports Massage. The level you pursue depends on your career goals and desired level of expertise. 


The duration of sports massage qualification programs can vary, but they generally range from several weeks to a few months. Our Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage on average takes students 2-4 months to complete from enrolling to taking their final exams.

For mobile massage therapists, massage licences are not required, however a massage therapist working in any capacity in the UK must hold,  as a minimum, an approved Level 3 qualification in sports massage.

Therapists cannot legally provide or charge for massage services in specified premises (e.g. a clinic) without a Massage and Special Treatments licence. This licence covers the premises in which you intend to practise and any massage therapists you hire.

Applications must be made to your local council and they will then be in touch to arrange an inspection of the premises and interview therapists before the licence is granted. You cannot practise massage on the premises before this happens. 

That being said, there are exemptions to this rule which varies from council to council, it is therefore advisable to check before making an application. 

Many institutions offer online sports massage courses; however, hands-on practice and clinical experience are crucial components of training. Therefore, a hybrid approach that includes both online and in-person instruction is recommended. Our Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage offers a blend of online theory learning and in-person hands on training, essential for building your hand skills and confidence as a therapist.

Yes! In the UK, several organisations offer recognised accredited sports massage qualifications. Accreditation ensures that the course meets industry standards and qualifies you for professional practice. Here are some of the well-recognised ones:

  1. Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT/ ITEC): VTCT (ITEC) offers accredited qualifications in sports massage therapy and related fields. Many educational institutions in the UK use VTCT (ITEC) qualifications in their sports massage programs. Our Level 3 Sports Massage course is accredited with ITEC.

  2. Sports Massage Association (SMA): The Sports Massage Association is an organization for sports massage therapists in the UK. They offer accreditation and provide resources and support for sports massage professionals.

  3. Institute of Sport and Remedial Massage (ISRM): The ISRM is another respected body in the field of sports and remedial massage therapy. They provide training and certification programs and promote high standards of practice in the UK.

  4. Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC): The CNHC is the regulatory body for complementary and natural healthcare practitioners in the UK, including sports massage therapists. Some sports massage therapists choose to register with CNHC to demonstrate their professionalism and meet regulatory requirements.


Sports massage is a specialised form of massage that focuses on addressing the unique needs of not just athletes but of any active individuals. It involves the application of specific techniques to prevent and treat sports-related injuries or work-related postural imbalances, improve performance, and aid in recovery. Unlike general relaxation massage, sports massage is tailored to the individual's goals, using postural assessment and assessment to inform the treatment. This may involve deeper pressure and stretching techniques.

Sports massage therapists in the UK have diverse career options. You can work with sports teams, in rehabilitation clinics, fitness centers, or as a self-employed therapist. The demand for sports massage therapists continues to grow as more people prioritize active lifestyles and sports participation.

While prior experience in massage therapy or Anatomy and Physiology may be beneficial, it's not a requirement. Our Level 3 Sports Massage course is designed for beginners, allowing you to build a solid foundation in assessment and massage techniques.