20 April, 2022 | Posted by Colm McDonnell

How to Become a Physical Therapist for a Professional Sports Team

The backroom staff for a professional sports team is a diverse group of people, all with different sets of skills and expertise. They all combine their experience and know-how to put the athletes they work with in the best possible position to succeed.

While they all play key roles, one of the most important members of the backroom team is the physical therapist. This is only natural considering that sport is largely based on athletic performance.

There are many qualified physical therapists in the industry. But only a select few will ever get to work with the top athletes. Want to know how you can? Read on.

Get your qualifications

It may sound obvious, but it is nevertheless true. You can read as much as you want in books and online about the discipline, but you won’t be taken seriously without a qualification from a respected institution.

Fortunately, the options for going the route of physical therapy are plentiful here in Ireland, especially compared to even 15 or 20 years ago. And if there’s nothing here that catches your eye here, there are even more options for studying abroad.

Start local, build your way up

It’s unreasonable to think that upon getting your qualification, you are going to walk straight into the backroom team of Liverpool and start working with Mo Salah and Virgil Van Dijk straight off the bat.

You have to start somewhere though, and there’s really nowhere better than in your locality. Local clubs, schools, or colleges need physical therapists the same way that Liverpool or Manchester City do. It can be beneficial to start at a lower level of performance, apply the knowledge you learned in your degree and then build from there.

Patrick Harding is the performance coach for Formula 1 driver, Alex Albon and professional boxer, Michael Conlan. He’s also worked with Team GB across two Olympics and was part of the backroom staff of Arsenal FC. But he didn’t just walk into those jobs. Before any of that happened, he served as the Head Physiotherapist for Portlaoise AFC. He then built his way up.

There is no shortcut to success.

Get more qualifications

Getting one degree is obviously a good start. It will give you the foundational knowledge you need to begin your career. Experience is obviously extremely valuable too as you are applying the knowledge you just learned.

However, further qualifications are always useful in separating yourself from the rest of the pack, particularly when you start applying for more prestigious roles. While an undergrad is a necessity, it is not the be-all and end-all.

Many top professionals who are already succeeding in their chosen field go back to education to ensure they are at the top of their game and don’t let complacency set in.

Jack Christopher had already established himself as a coach across the academy and first-team of Chelsea FC. However, even in his position, he still felt the need to go back and get his master’s, where he could apply his learning directly to his job and vice versa.

Get connected

It is true in almost every industry that the more connections you have within the industry, the better position you will be in when applying for a role. In an ideal world, the most qualified candidate always gets the job. However, this is not always the case.

Being well-connected is a skill in itself. Networking is just another part of professional life nowadays. With platforms like LinkedIn facilitating online connection also, it is something that every professional should know how to do.

Having the right connections can sometimes be as important as having the right qualifications be that right or wrong.


The final step is to find the job you are seeking. Job websites will help. Making sure you are checking them regularly will be a must.

If there is a particular team or teams that you are looking to work for, it is always worth checking the careers section of their website and their social media as job opportunities can appear here first before third-party job sites.

Get out there and see what you can find!

Read more

Follow Your Passion - The Journey to Chelsea FC 

Follow Your Passion: ‘I fill the gaps in my learning that I need to fill’ says Coach Patrick Harding 

Get in contact

If you are interested in any of our sports courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert sports advisor Jo Shaw here, email jo.shaw@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0024. 

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