What is the SPA Project?

In many countries sports physiotherapists belong to a national sports physiotherapy organization. The International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT) represents many national sports physical therapy organizations at an international level. IFSPT is a
recognized sub-group of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy.

The IFSPT aims to increase recognition of sports physical therapists and facilitate the development of their career path. The IFSPT has developed an international register of IFSPT-accredited sports physical therapists. Membership in this registration will provide a “badge of quality,” demonstrating the high professional standards of sports physical therapy internationally.

In order to make this plan possible, it was necessary to describe sports physical therapy and establish a minimum threshold level of practice. This was carried out through a European Union-funded project. The Sports Physiotherapy for All project was a
Leonardo-da-Vinci funded project that aimed to promote and enhance:
• mobility and recognition of sports physical therapists in Europe and beyond
• safe physical activity and participation in sport for all by the development of:
• European competencies and standards for sports physiotherapists
• an audit tool, evaluated in a European context
• guidelines for ethical behaviour in relation to doping
• a website interface among research, practice and education
• an interactive website for continuing professional education

The project ran from January 2004 until the end of December 2006. It involved the collection and analysis of international documentation and contributions from international experts in sports physical therapy and education.

This SPA website is the link to these educational

Sports physical therapists who wish to achieve IFSPT accreditation must demonstrate evidence that they are competent at a minimum threshold level. This required the development of internationally accepted competencies and standards. The sports physical therapist competencies are listed below. Standards are more detailed descriptions of
requirements in relation to each competency. The sports physical therapist competencies and standards are available on this website.

Sports Physical Therapy Competencies:

  • Injury Prevention
  • Acute Intervention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Performance Enhancement
  • Promotion of a Safe, Active Lifestyle
  • Life-Long Learning
  • Professionalism and Management
  • Research Involvement
  • Dissemination of Best Practice
  • Extending Practice Through Innovation
  • Promotion of Fair Play and Anti-Doping Practices

Sports physical therapy competencies and standards are demonstrated and assessed using an audit tool kit. This resource enables a sports physiotherapist to provide evidence of the standards that they already achieve, and to decide on their most important learning needs. It is then possible to seek the most useful opportunities for continuing professional

You can demonstrate evidence of competence through informal means, such as experiential, work based learning. You can also demonstrate competency through formal courses such as a Master’s in sports physical therapy. Informal and formal evidence can be mixed in a portfolio. You are therefore free to develop your competence through different types of learning, training and education.

The audit tool kit can also be used by the providers of education and training opportunities, to design appropriate courses or programmes for sports physical therapists, and map educational learning outcomes against the standards to help sports physical therapists choose appropriate courses.

There are 15 types of evidence (audit tools) which can be used to demonstrate standards of practice, including case studies and presentations. A manual is provided, with guidance
on each audit tool and links to online examples. There is also a short tutorial that you can complete to help you get started.

For further information on the application of the audit tool kit in your country, please contact your national sports physical therapy organization.