Training in Sports Medicine: From Theory to Practice

April 05, 2023

Training in Sports Medicine: From Theory to Practice
Training in Sports Medicine: From Theory to Practice

Sports medicine is becoming a popular career path with many people trying to break into the field. There are thousands of sports medicine physicians currently working in the U.S. and this number is expected to go up to 72, 500 by the year 2029. There’s a lot you can do in this field whether it be working with professional sports teams, athletic departments, clinics, hospitals, schools, and more. These seem like a lot of exciting options, but you might be wondering how exactly you get from theory to practice in real life. What exactly are the steps you need to take to get from point A to point B? Don’t worry, we’ve done the research and have put together a thorough guide on how to get started below.

What is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine, also referred to as Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM), is the practice of treating, preventing, and healing injuries. Most of the time this is focused on athletes, but can be applied to anyone taking part in physical training or sports-related activities. Sports medicine physicians or doctors are responsible for giving nutritional advice, diagnosing conditions, and figuring out physical therapy plans.

You’ll be treating a number of physical conditions such as sprains, dislocations, fractures, strains, and more. Also, you’ll order laboratory tests, create rehabilitation plans, and help with exercise regimens, etc. Sports medicine has several different career paths including physical therapy, kinesiology, exercise physiology, and athletic training. You can work as a pediatrician, family medicine doctor, orthopedic surgeon, nurse practitioner, physical therapist, and more.


You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine at a bare minimum to practice. A pre-med program is highly recommended so if you decide to go to medical school, you’ll be prepared. Try to get a strong background in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, especially if you plan on becoming a physician. Next, you’ll have to pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), the standardized multiple-choice exam, which is used to get into medical school. If you visit the MCAT website, you’ll find registration information and study materials. If you don’t pass on the first attempt, you can always take it again and the school will average your scores or take your most recent.

MD or DO Program

In medical school, you have two distinct paths you can follow. The first is enrolling in a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program while the second is the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program. These degrees focus on the same methods of treatment, however, the DO degree includes osteopathic manipulative medicine as well. Both will be 4-5 years of medical school. After medical school, you’ll get hands-on training with healthcare professionals to complete your residency.


There are several different certifications you can get to make you more valuable and appealing to employers. You must pass the sports medicine certification examination and have a license to practice medicine, but certs will only make you more knowledgeable in your field. It would be a good idea to hold one or more national certifications and one of the best is the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). This exam isn’t easy to pass so it’s highly recommended you get a CSCS study guide that is reliable and trustworthy. Taking time to study the right CSCS study guide will increase your chances of passing significantly.

Be the Example

You don’t have to be an athlete to practice sports medicine, but you should try your best to stay fit and healthy. When it comes to recovery practices, you’ll most likely have to demonstrate certain exercises and movements. You want to make sure you’re fit enough to show people how to properly maintain form and posture during certain movements. Also, keeping your nutrition balanced will help you know what it’s like to make certain changes to your diet and you’ll be able to empathize with athletes on a deeper level. On top of this, it’s good to serve as a healthy example since people will look to you as the authority figure and subject matter expert.


Pursuing a career in sports medicine is an exciting prospect especially since the possibilities are almost limitless. It’s fun studying the theory and branches of sports medicine, but the goal is to help treat athletes on a frequent basis. You need a good amount of education for this career path, and a bachelor’s degree is the minimum. Going to medical school, completing a residency, and passing the sports medicine certification examination will take you to the next level. Also, consider getting certified in CSCS, but take time to study the CSCS study guide and be the example you would want to see in the sports medicine world. If you follow this loose guide above, you’ll be going from sports medicine theory to practice in no time.


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