Cover Page



Title Page


List of Contributors



Chapter 1: Sports therapy—Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?


What is sports therapy?

Who practices sports therapy

What makes a good sports therapist (characteristics and commitment of a sports therapist)?

When and where is the sports therapist needed?

Why is sports therapy important?

How does one become a sports therapist?


Chapter 2: A history of sports medicine and sports therapy


Defining “sports medicine” and “sports therapy”

Where and when did sports medicine and sports therapy begin?

Ancient times

Modern times—organizational development


Chapter 3: The role and importance of the sports therapist: pre-event, event, and post-event


The athlete’s perspective

Chief medical officer’s (CMO) perspective

The physician’s perspective

The Olympic therapist’s perspective

Traveling with teams—Is the therapist just “a therapist”?

Chapter 4: Hosting international Olympic events: providing host therapy services at major games


Planning for the games

Let the games begin

Following the games

Chapter 5: Pre-Olympic team travel: logistical and treatment considerations


Pre-event training camp

Preparation for the training camp

Traveling to the training site/Olympic Games

Providing therapy services while traveling with a team

Working with other health professionals “at a distance” or in different jurisdictions (e.g., traveling with a team when the therapist is the only support)

How/who to seek information from regarding referrals, logistics, and supplies if traveling internationally with a team

Chapter 6: Olympic event: logistical and treatment considerations

Background and typical role definition within an Olympic Games environment

Planning—prior to departure

Planning—on arrival

Precompetition period following official opening

During competition period

Concluding stages

Chapter 7: The importance of communication: understanding the importance of the event to the athlete, coach, and others


Developing a sports medicine communication strategy

Collaborative communication

Athlete communications

Coach communications

Games communications

Sports medicine team communications

Public relations strategy

Crisis communication skills

Chapter 8: Considerations for working with professional athletes versus nonprofessional amateur athletes during Olympic events


Working with athletes

Official versus private therapist working with Olympic athletes

Chapter 9: To compete or not to compete following injury during Olympic events


Understanding aspects in the clinical decision-making process

The role of the sports physiotherapist in relationship to physicians and other medical staff

The process of making a return to sport decision

Impact of decision on team performance or an individual athlete’s career

Preparation can improve clinical decision making

Impact of the short time available to work within injury constraints and rehabilitation processes at an Olympic Game

Communication of decisions with athlete, coach, team officials

Conflict of interest

Press and media scrutiny

Key concerns of the sports therapist at major events/competitions

The athletes’ follow-up

Chapter 10: Sports nutrition and therapy


Repair and regeneration of injured tissues

Adjusting energy and nutrient intake to altering requirements

Communication between nutritionist/dietician and sports therapy team

Appendix: Olympic sports medicine contacts


Title Page

List of Contributors

Anderson Aurélio da Silva, MSc
Department of Physical Therapy
School of Physical Education, Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy
Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Caryl Becker, MSc
Chief Physiotherapist
British Olympic Association
London, UK

Natália Franco Netto Bittencourt, MSc
Minas Tenis Clube
Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Arthur J. Boland, MD
Department of Orthopaedics
Sports Medicine Service
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA, USA

Louise Burke, APD, PhD
Head, Sports Nutrition
Australian Institute of Sport
Australian Sports Commission
Bruce, ACT, Australia

Peter Drugge, PT, ATC
Capio Artro Clinic
Stockholm, Sweden

Tommy Eriksson, DN
Stockholms Naprapat Institute AB
Täby, Sweden

Sergio T. Fonseca, PhD
Department of Physical Therapy
School of Physical Education, Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy
Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Randy Goodman, PT, DIP, Sports PT, BSc
Clinical Specialist in Sports Physiotherapy
University of British Columbia
Kelowna, BC, Canada

James Green II, BS
Graduate Programs in Physical Therapy
MGH Institute of Health Professions
Charlestown, MA, USA

Masaki Katayose, PT, JASA-AT, MSc, PhD
Department of Physical Therapy
School of Health Sciences
Sapporo Medical University
Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

Åsa Lönnqvist
Capio Artro Clinic
Stockholm, Sweden

David J. Magee, PhD, BPT
Department of Physical Therapy
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB, Canada

Ron Maughan, PhD
School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences
Loughborough University
Loughborough, UK

Luciana De Michelis Mendonça, BSc
Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Bill Moreau, DC, CSCS
Managing Director, Sports Medicine
United States Olympic Committee
Colorado Springs, CO, USA

Juliana Melo Ocarino, PhD
Department of Physical Therapy
School of Physical Education, Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy
Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Gayle Olson, ATC, MS
Wellness Coordinator
Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA, USA

Nicola Phillips, PhD, MSc
President, International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy
Cardiff University
Cardiff, UK

José Roberto Prado Jr, MSc
Centro Universitário Augusto Motta
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Thales Rezende Souza, MSc
Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil

Peter Toohey, ATC, MS
Lake Placid Olympic Training Center
United States Olympic Committee
Lake Placid, NY, USA

Ulrika Tranaeus, DN, MSc
Stockholm Sports Trauma Research Center
Karolinska Institute
Stockholm, Sweden

Tony Ward, M. Sports Physiotherapy
Department of Physical Therapies
Australian Institute of Sport
Belconnen, ACT, Australia

Suzanne Werner, PT, ATC, PhD
Stockholm Sports Trauma Research Centre
Karolinska Institute;
Head of Research
Capio Artro Clinic
Stockholm, Sweden

Lotta Willberg, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Capio Artro Clinic
Stockholm Sports Trauma Research Center
Karolinska Institute
Stockholm, Sweden

James E. Zachazewski, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC
Clinical Director
Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA;
Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor
Graduate Programs in Physical Therapy
MGH Institute of Health Professions
Charlestown, MA


It must be appreciated that a wide variety of professionals are involved with athletes in order to provide these competitors with the highest possible quality of care. In the organization of major sport competitions such as the Olympic Games, careful consideration must be given to the planning and the organization of all services from the immediate medical care to be provided through to the eventual therapies for return to competition.

The co-editors of this handbook, Professor James Zachazewski and Professor David Magee, have assembled a cohort of contributing authors who represent the leading practitioners of the therapies employed with athletes. While earlier publications in the Handbooks of Sports Medicine and Science series have dealt with particular sports from the Olympic Summer and OlympicWinter Games and the general topics of sports injuries, sports nutrition, strength training, and sport psychology, this handbook focuses on the pre-event organization, the considerations for international travel, the selection of appropriate therapies, and the specialized roles of specific therapeutic professionals.

A wealth of information is hereby provided for the planning and provision of therapy services for athletes competing in major sport events. We welcome this high-quality addition to the Handbook series!

Dr Jacques Rogge
IOC President


Competitive sports date back to the earliest written recordings of the history of man. The same is also true for the knowledge of sports injuries and their care. The broad collective term used today to describe this body of knowledge and its application to the injured athlete is “sports medicine.” While the use of the term “medicine” most often signifies the physicians’ contributions to the medical management of the injured athlete, history shows us that much of the care provided to the injured athlete has been rendered not only by physicians but also by a multitude of other professionals. These nonphysicians’ areas of expertise and concern usually encompass the study and management of the physiological and mental changes and the nutritional requirements as they relate to the injury prevention, the conditioning strategies, and the rehabilitative processes, or the “sports therapies” necessary to prevent injury and return of the athlete to a safe competitive level.

Much has been written over time regarding the “specific therapy” required from a clinical perspective to prevent injury or return of an injured athlete to competition. The editors did not feel that, in a brief publication such as this handbook, we could contribute significantly to this broad body of knowledge. Therefore, our goal in developing this handbook for the IOC Medical Commission was to provide a somewhat unique look at “sports therapy” and contribute a work to theinternational community that would assist a multidisciplinary professional audience to gain better understanding of “sports therapy” with regard to establishing and delivering the diverse “sports therapy” services required for athletes at international, national, and regional sporting events.

In keeping with the spirit of international cooperation and sharing that the Olympic Games represent, the editors have assembled an international panel of experts and authors from around the globe representing Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Japan, Sweden, and the United States. Collectively, we have tried to provide the international Olympic community with a guide for the development and delivery of sports therapy services at large international competitions. Each author has not only contributed his or her expertise but, more importantly, also shared his or her practical experience with the reader. In developing the chapters, we have asked the authors to write from the perspective of being a professional consultant hired to provide information regarding sports therapy services in a format that would outline for the reader the issues that must be considered when developing sports therapy services leading up to and during major sporting events.

James E. Zachazewski
David J. Magee

Chapter 1

Sports therapy—Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

James E. Zachazewski1 and David J. Magee2

1Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
2University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada


When exploring any topic or area of study, one can learn a great deal by asking and answering the questions of Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

Answering these questions allows one to gain overall insight into the topic or area of study and to decide if further exploration is necessary or desired. Included within our answers to these questions are some factors that should be considered in order to develop a strategy to gain further knowledge, competence, and expertise concerning sports therapy.

What is sports therapy?

Sport should be considered in the broadest context when answering the question of “What?” According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary (2010):

Sport is a physical or recreational activity, usually engaged in for pleasure, that an individual is involved in either as a single athlete or participant, or in a group or team format.

As a consequence and requirement of successful sport participation, especially at elite and Olympic levels, various types of training and activities are required. Unfortunately, participation in sport sometimes results in adverse physical or mental/emotional/behavioral consequences to the athlete. Treatment of these adverse physical or mental/emotional consequences often requires some type of therapeutic intervention (i.e., the treatment of disease or disorders by remedial agents or methods). The therapy, or the treatment of the physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral adverse consequences of sport, is provided by a wide array of professionals to allow the athlete to return to practice and/or competition. The definition, number, type, background, educational preparation, expertise, and experience of these health care professionals vary broadly on an international basis. This variability may be due to history, culture, sport bias, economics, or access to therapeutic resources to name but a few. In many countries, Olympic committees and professional associations have established minimum requirements for clinicians who wish to work at Olympic events or facilities. For the purpose of this book, the term “sports therapy” is best defined as “the provision of non-surgical, non-pharmacologic interventions by a broad array of professionals to help the athlete alleviate the adverse physical, mental, emotional or behavioral adverse consequences of sport and allow the athlete to return to an optimal level of health, well being and competitive function.”

Who practices sports therapy

There are a multitude of professionals who support an elite athlete from a clinical therapeutic basis. The type of therapy delivered, and which professional will provide that therapy, may differ from country to country. This difference in delivery may be based on things such as educational preparation, licensure requirements (if any), availability, and the cultural environment of the country and sport. In many cases, there is overlap of what individuals in each profession may provide relative to another professional. Some of the types of overlap that may exist are summarized in Table 1.1 (Booker and Thibodeau 1985).

Table 1.1 Functions of the sports therapist

Prevention Assessment Treatment and Management
Preparticipation examination
  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Profiling

Proper conditioning
Protective equipment
  • Selection
  • Fitting
  • Maintenance

Safety supervision
  • Facilities
  • Equipment

Preventive techniques
  • Taping
  • Padding
  • Bandaging
  • Braces

Observing athletes
  • Recognize problems and minor injuries

  • Rest
  • Diet

Assessment techniques
  • Recognize injury
  • Determine severity of injury
  • Determine when athlete can return to activity

Emergency care procedures
  • Supplies
  • Plane of action
  • Immediate care

Rehabilitation strategies
  • Prevent reinjuries
  • Strengthen previously injured area

Monitoring environmental conditions
Range of motion (flexibility)
Muscular strength and endurance
Coordinated movements
Functional activities
Cardiovascular endurance
Assessment techniques
  • Evaluation of effects of rehabilitation program
Emergency assessment
Primary survey
  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation

Secondary survey
  • History
  • Observation
  • Palpation
  • Stress tests

Evaluation of findings
  • Medical referral
  • Treatment application

Maintain records
  • Injuries
  • Treatment

  • Inspection
  • Safety
  • Sanitation

Equipment and supplies
  • Purchasing
  • Maintaining

Health care services
  • Organize
  • Communication
  • Policies and procedures

Emergency support services
Immediate first aid
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Rest

Follow-up treatment
  • Therapeutic modalities
  • Exercise programs

Protective techniques
  • Taping
  • Splinting
  • Padding
  • Supporting
  • Immobilizing

Assessment techniques
  • Evaluation of the effects of treatment procedures on signs and symptoms

Previous injuries and present status
  • Medical history
  • Requirements of each

Health topics
  • Knowledge of health education

Social and personal problems
  • Knowledge of available professionals
  • Knowledge of situation requiring consultation
  • Referral procedures

Knowledge of team or family physician
Instructing student trainers
Continuing education
Adapted from Booker and Thibodeau (1985).

That being said, one must never forget the importance of the “psychological bonding” between the athlete and the health care professional. This bonding can lead to increased confidence and comfort of the athlete when dealing with different health care professionals.

Sports Physiotherapist. Physiotherapy (or physical therapy as termed in the United States) is defined as “the treatment of disease, injury, or disability by physical and mechanical means (using massage, regulated exercise, water, light, heat, and electricity).” Depending upon the country, physiotherapy was established as a profession soon after the end of World War I. As a result, physiotherapists have played a significant role in the therapeutic management of injured Olympic and Para Olympic athletes almost since the inception of the modern games. The establishment of the role and skill set of the physiotherapist through the utilization of exercise, massage, and other therapeutic means goes back much earlier, to the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as can be seen when reading Chapter 2, “A History of Sports Medicine and Sports Therapy.” Modern day “sports physiotherapists” also play a prominent role in the emergency management of injuries that may occur during competition or training. The education, training, and professional preparation of physiotherapists vary from country to country. The general course of study and initial preparation of physiotherapists has great breadth, taking into consideration all ages, and types of pathologies, diseases, and injuries. In all instances, sports physiotherapy is a further course of study and area of subspecialization, after initial generalist preparation, and commonly, these physiotherapists have specialty certification in sports therapy to deal with the unique requirements and care of athletes. This system of training allows for greater breadth and depth of preparation combined with specific topics applicable to sport, and the care and prevention of sports injuries by the sports physiotherapist. Education and training to become a sports physiotherapist vary from country to country with educational preparation ranging from different types of certification to bachelors, masters, and clinical doctoral degrees. Training of physiotherapists generally and specifically for sports physiotherapy tends to follow a medical model in most countries. Many sports physiotherapists, when not directly involved with sports teams, work in hospitals and private clinics.

Athletic Trainer. Athletic training is a profession and course of study that is found predominantly in the United States, although some other countries such as Canada and Japan have also seen the development of this profession. The role that the athletic trainer plays with the Olympic level athlete may be similar to that of the sports physiotherapist depending upon the sport and country. The education and preparation of the athletic trainer centers around athletic-, sport-, and activity-related injuries and conditions, with significantly less preparation across the age, pathology, and disease spectrum than the physiotherapist receives in their entry level generalist education/preparation. Overall, there is a greater depth of preparation at the entry level relative to athletic injuries and their management. Educational emphasis is placed on sport mechanics, injury prevention, emergency management, and therapeutic intervention across a wide variety of sports. Educational preparation is at the bachelors or masters degree level. Training of the athletic trainer has historically followed a kinesiology/physical education and physical activity model. However, many programs in the United States are beginning to evolve in schools of allied health with curricula that match credentialing requirements. Most athletic trainers (or athletic therapists as they are called in Canada), when not involved full time with sports teams, work in educational institutions (high schools, colleges, and universities) or along with sports physiotherapists in private clinics.

The role of the athletic trainer and sports physiotherapist are often similar and may have significant overlap when it comes to treating athletes. A generic term “sports therapist” is used to indicate both a sports physiotherapist and/or an athletic trainer. Some of the functions of these individuals are shown in Table 1.1. The utilization of athletic trainers versus sports physiotherapists varies based on sport, country, and culture. Overlap of knowledge, skills, and abilities can foster maximal efficiency and expertise being directed at the care of the athlete as well as controversy, competition, and “turf battles.” The most effective professionals of either profession will tend to foster an area of trust, mutual respect, and sharing of expertise regardless of their background to work to the advantage of the injured athlete.

Coach/Trainer. The coach (or trainer, as called in some countries) of an athlete is the individual who trains an athlete or a team to compete through instruction in sporting techniques and skills, designing season plans, and teaching safe and effective practices. They act as the planner and organizer, providing motivation and mentorship for individual athletes and individuals on teams. This individual, working with others, is the person the athlete most commonly identifies with and works with to achieve his or her maximum potential to compete. Depending on the country, these individuals may have gone through a specific training program, often with different levels of certification or may have gained their knowledge by being involved in sport. Those who are trained in specific programs commonly come from a kinesiology/physical education and physical acti- vity model.

Massage Therapist. Massage has been used as a therapeutic method of treating the injured athlete since the earliest reported history of sport. It is perhaps the most common “therapy” provided across the many countries who participate in the Olympics. The professional education, background, and training of the massage therapist/masseur vary greatly from country to country. In some countries, specific educational preparation, course work, examination, and licensure are required, while in others, apprenticeship and mentoring under a master or acknowledged expert is the common method of preparation. Guided and graded experience, success with the athletes treated, and acceptance by the athlete and team are common requirements of all massage practitioners. Techniques and methods may vary from country to country and from practitioner to practitioner; however, the purpose is the same. Massage is used before, during, and after events to prepare the athlete for peak performance, to help them recover following competition or practice, or as part of injury treatment (to prevent injury from occurring).

Strength and Conditioning Coach. Professionals with specific expertise in the areas of strength training and conditioning participate with almost all teams. The main area of responsibility for these coaches/therapists is to assure the appropriate level of sport-specific conditioning for the athletes allowing them to obtain peak performance at the time of the games. While often termed “coaches,” the strength and conditioning coaches are of expertise and responsibility often times overlap with those of various other “therapists” (e.g., physiotherapists and athletic trainers) depending on where the athlete is in terms of preparation, injury, rehabilitation, recovery, or conditioning. Communication is paramount between everyone working together to allow the elite athlete to attain world-class performance and results. The educational level and preparation of coaches/trainer again varies depending upon the country and the culture of a particular sport. Preparation can range from college and graduate/doctoral level course work, examination and licensure to apprenticeship, and mentoring under a master or acknowledged expert in that particular sport or activity.

Sports Psychologist. Obviously, one of the key factors in success in any sport or athletic event is the level of physical function of the athlete (i.e., strength, speed, endurance, agility, flexibility, and balance to name but a few). However, the emotional and psychological factors associated with sport and success require just as much attention, although this is often underrecognized and underappreciated. For this reason, the sports psychologist is a critical member of the sports therapy team. The educational preparation, background, and training of this professional allow them to concentrate and address the nonphysical needs of the elite athlete at a critical junction in their career. Such an individual deals with the emotional health of the athlete and can assist them in visualizing success and optimal performance of a skill required “to medal,” conquering issues of confidence and fear, coping with an injury should it occur, burnout and depression, or coping with poor performance should such an event occur. While all members of the therapy team must have an appreciation for the emotional and psychological well-being of the athlete at the time of competition, the skills that the sports psychologist brings to the therapy team are critical. They have the depth and resource that others may not have.

Chiropractor. Chiropractors are often asked to work as part of a collaborative multidisciplinary health care team. In this setting, their clinical duties, like most sport therapists, are focused primarily on diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal conditions. Once a diagnosis is made, common treatment techniques employed by the chiropractor include joint manipulation and mobilization, soft tissue manipulation, rehabilitative exercise, taping, bracing, and nutritional and lifestyle modification. Many of these skills may overlap with other sport therapists, especially the sports physiotherapist and/or athletic trainer. Athletes often seek the manual therapy skills of the chiropractor during competition, and this has resulted in increased demand in chiropractors.

In the United States, it is important to distinguish chiropractors with specialty certification in sport from the unspecialized chiropractic physician. Chiropractors certified by the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (ACBSP) have additional training in diagnosis and management of sports injury, concussion, emergency procedures, taping and bracing, and preparticipation examination. Most chiropractors come from a science background and when not involved with sports teams, work in their own private practices.

What makes a good sports therapist (characteristics and commitment of a sports therapist)?

Attitude and Dedication. As a group, sports therapists, regardless of whether or not they are a physiotherapist, athletic trainer, or chiropractor; massage therapist; strength and conditioning coach; sports psychologist; or some other type of health care professionals demonstrate great passion not only for their chosen profession but also for their dedication to the sport and the athletes who entrust them with their care. Overall, the sports therapist should demonstrate a positive, “can do” attitude at all times to the athlete and the team. A sports therapist needs to make sure that the athlete knows that he or she is there for the athlete when the athlete needs him or her the most—at time of injury and/or adversity. Sports therapists should display a quiet but recognized air of confidence in their own skills and abilities, their ability to assist the athlete overcome physical and emotional adversity, at what may be the most critical time of the athlete’s career. The sports therapist must demonstrate the ability to remain calm, focused, and able to help in the most stressful situation.

Training and Knowledge Base. Any sports therapist associated with a sport must have a high level of skill, knowledge, ability, and expertise in their chosen profession that is recognized by their peers and the athletes/teams with whom they work. The sports therapist must not only have knowledge of injuries and the management of injury and illness associated with the sport from a “clinical” perspective but he or she must also have a thorough understanding of the specific skills and techniques required within a sport. This knowledge allows the sport therapist to have insight into the correct biomechanics and pathomechanics associated with the sport and with injuries and illness that may result from participation. The sports therapist must also respect and gain insight and knowledge into the culture, psychosocial components, attitude, and values of the participants and coaches involved in the sport. When injury and/or illness occur, all of these components are intimately woven together and must be managed for a successful outcome.

Flexibility and Time Commitment. Any sports therapist knows that flexibility is a key component for success with a sport, team, or elite athlete. The sport therapist must be willing to flex his or her schedule to accommodate to changes in practices and event schedules. These changes often occur at the last minute and often need accommodation. Because of this, as well as the time required for such things as travel and meetings, the time commitment required for a sports therapist involved in sports is significant. Depending on the sport and the time within the sports season, practices may be at various times of the day or night. Travel is often required. This travel may take the sport therapist away from his or her home for up to weeks or months at a time. These time commitments have an impact not only on the sport therapist’s professional and personal life, but they may have a significant impact on the lives of their families as well. While the rewards from being associated with an elite team or group of athletes provide great satisfaction, the time spent away from home can have an adverse impact on family.

When and where is the sports therapist needed?

Sports therapy is needed by the athlete not only during his or her competitive season/event but also during the off-season/training season. The type and amount of therapy service needed by the athlete will vary by sport and season. Access to competent, highly trained sports therapists is needed not only at central training sites but also where individual athletes and teams may train when not at an identified central training site.

During the competitive season, athletes need to access sport therapy services throughout their active training cycle often on an acute, urgent basis. The urgent need and access to intervention is meant to allow the athlete to minimize injury and illness that occurs while still allowing the athlete to vigorously train and compete. Intervention provided is often times aggressive in nature, based on the short window of the competitive season. Intervention strategies are aimed at allowing the injured athlete to continue to participate despite the injury and to minimize the progression of the injury if possible. Therapy services are provided not only within the clinical setting but also at the venue/practice/competition site. When an athlete or team is traveling, the therapist must often be creative in determining where the “clinic” will be to treat the injured athlete. Hotel rooms, buses, or an open area of the venue/arena often must become the therapists’ clinical office.

During the noncompetitive training season, access to sports therapy services may vary greatly depending on the athlete, sport, country, culture, and sophistication of the organization or governing body of the sport. During this noncompetitive, training season, athletes are often away and geographically distant from centralized sophisticated therapy services available to them during the competitive season. It is in this situation that great care must be taken by the individual athlete and organization to find the best possible therapy resource available in the athletes’ geographic area. This is often difficult to do. Efforts should be made by the governing body to attempt to develop a network of therapists willing and able to provide the athlete with any necessary therapy services in the geographic area that a particular athlete or team is staying during the noncompetitive training season.

Why is sports therapy important?

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 Supervision and oversight of a functional rehabilitation exercise by sports therapist


How does one become a sports therapist?

Acquiring the knowledge, skills, and abilities to work as a sports therapist with the elite athletes of the world requires time and dedication to one’s profession. Most often, the acquisition of training and knowledge about a particular sport or group of athletes is gained through multiple mechanisms:


“Sports therapy” is made up of many different professionals all with the common goal of assuring the health and well-being of the elite Olympic athlete so that the athlete may compete at the highest level possible. The professionals have unique and overlapping knowledge, skills, and abilities. The collaboration and creation of a “team” of professionals will provide the athlete with the best sports therapy approach to support them in their quest for athletic excellence and success (Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2 Multidisciplinary group meeting to discuss status of the needs of injured athletes that the group is working with for efficient effective return to competition



Booker, J.M. & Thibodeau, G.A. (1985) Athletic Injury Assessment. CV Mosby Co., Toronto.

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary (2010). Springfield, MA.