Sports medicine is a sexy term and it’s a field a lot of healthcare professionals want to work in. We want to work with motivated and active patients… naturally, athletes fit this bill. The reality is our academic programs and training do not provide the necessary tools for working with high level athletes. Sprint form is not talked about in depth in physical therapy school. Physicians do not know how to discuss squat form and knee pain with their powerlifting patients.
Before you can even entertain the idea of being a sports medicine PT, you need to be well equipped with the knowledge and ability to help athletes and active people. It helps to be a sports fan and have an understanding of what different positions on the field and court do. It also helps to have an athletic background and understand the culture of sport. These are not necessities, but they are certainly advantages.
My number one recommendation is to learn sport. Network with trainers and coaches; learn everything you can about the physical preparation process high level athletes go through. Learn about the unique energy system demands of the american football player. Learn about the rotational demands of a tennis, golf, or lacrosse player and how that impacts everything from their hips and spine to their feet and elbows.
Once you feel comfortable with your body of knowledge, you can consider marketing yourself as a sports medicine PT and networking with the right groups in order to find potential work opportunities and referral sources within the sports community. I chose to practice within a gym knowing I had a large direct referral source and platform to start with.