sports massage

Each year, around 300 of the best college football players in the country are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, where key personnel from every NFL team assess these players for the upcoming NFL draft.

To prepare for this career-making event, many of the players enter intense training programs at a small number of elite athletic centers.

One such center is XPE Sports in Boca Raton, Florida. A long list of NFL stars train or have trained at the facility in the off-season—including the San Francisco 49ers’ Anquan Boldin, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Eric Berry and the New Orleans Saints’ Mark Ingram—and each January, about 30 to 40 college football players come to XPE to train for the NFL Scouting Combine.

XPE Sports has joined forces with sports massage educator George Kousaleos, L.M.T., founder of the CORE Institute, to offer the CORE Sports Bodywork Certification and Clinical Mentorship program, which involves working on these top NFL prospects during their time at the XPE NFL Combine Prep.

Sports Massage Certification

“Massage therapists working with this project will be working on some of the best soon-to-be players in the NFL,” said Tony Villani, founder and president of XPE Sports. “This can be great for income, along with being a great marketing tool for massage therapists.”

In fact, for each graduate of the sports massage certification program, Villani and Kousaleos said they will be sending a letter to the sports medicine departments of the professional and college sports teams in the region where that graduate resides.

Kousaleos said the letters will include testimonials from NFL stars and prospects, and will inform those organizations about the value of CORE Sports Bodywork and the local presence of a certified practitioner.

College, Pro and Olympic Athletes

Kousaleos said the letters are part of a larger goal he and Villani had in mind when they created the sports massage certification program: to build a national network of CORE Sports Bodywork practitioners, all of whom have been trained to provide effective work for college, professional and Olympic athletes.

“This is an incredible opportunity to learn appropriate techniques for working with some of the best athletes on the planet,” said Kousaleos, who has trained massage therapists to work on the British Olympic team and served as co-director of the international sports massage team for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The modality Kousaleos developed to support elite athletes is called CORE Sports Bodywork, which he said is an offshoot of CORE Myofascial Therapy, with a foundation in structural integration.

According to Kousaleos, CORE Sports Bodywork tends to entail broader myofascial work, using open hands, forearms and backs of fists rather than going deep with fingers, knuckles and elbows.

“Not overworking them is really the critical issue—knowing just what to do to help them move ahead without feeling the lingering effects of being overworked,” said Kousaleos, who has served as the director of the CORE Sports Bodywork team for the football team at Florida State University since 2011.

“It has to be strong enough they can feel the stretch of the fascia and not too deep where they’re feeling sore the next day.”

Sports Massage Mentorship

The CORE Sports Bodywork Certification and Clinical Mentorship program will begin in January and will encompass nine separate week-long certification sessions. In each of these week-long sessions, which Kousaleos said will result in around 40 to 46 continuing education hours, there will be room for six to 10 massage therapists.

The training will be set up to provide education on the proper myofascial therapy and structural integration protocols during the first part of the day, followed by clinical sessions with the athletes in the afternoons.

“We’re not just going to bring a group of manual therapists in and turn them loose on these guys,” said Don Stanley, L.M.T., C.F.S.C., a CORE Myofascial Therapist who serves as director of therapy at XPE Sports. “We’re going to show them exactly how to work on these athletes.”

To learn more about the application process and requirements for the CORE Sports Certification and Clinical Mentorship program, visit Kousaleos said the program will begin accepting applications in mid-October and there will be discounts for early enrollment.

About the Author

Brandi Schlossberg is an avid bodywork client and full-time journalist based in Reno, Nevada. She has written on many topics for MASSAGE Magazine, including “Declare Your Independence from Pain, Stress & Stiffness.”