Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Growing sports physiotherapy experts takes a village—technical, creative and contextual learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum
  1. Nicola Phillips1,
  2. Colin Paterson2
  1. 1 Postgraduate Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2 Brighton University, Eastbourne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicola Phillips, Postgraduate Healthcare Studies, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF35 6BA, UK; phillipsn{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

From rookie to expert

The quality of sport and exercise physiotherapy has risen dramatically in the last few decades. Scope of practice still varies across the world, but physiotherapy/physical therapy consistently builds on a broad medical knowledge that underpins advanced decision-making and problem-solving. We work to support performance, prevent injury and provide clinical care. Pre-registration physiotherapy education provides the starter toolkit that ensures the entry level physiotherapist practices safely.

How can physiotherapists ensure that they keep developing post-qualification, so that they can work at the highest level? To develop expertise—with an emphasis on the ‘expert’ part of that term—requires physiotherapists to keep abreast of advances in practice through both theoretical and experiential learning. The purpose of this editorial is to highlight how the International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT) can help a physiotherapist with this journey.

Sports and exercise physiotherapy expertise, as defined by the IFSPT,1 is detailed on the IFSPT website.2 A modified model is presented in online supplementary material with this paper. It describes competencies required as a Registered International Sports Physical Therapist status.2

Supplemental material


Developing expertise

Figure 1 describes a model of how a physiotherapist advances from novice to expert in decision-making and skill ‘development. Technical learning relates to science and general physiotherapy skills, largely attained at a novice level. Creative learning involves adapting decision-making and techniques to individual clinical presentations.

Figure 1

Models of learning, encompassing reflective practice in developing experts. …

View Full Text


  • Twitter @NicolaPhillPT, @physiocolinp

  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to the manuscript, including writing and creating the model illustrated.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.