The Athletic Trainer Skill Set – Part 1, Prevention

11 Jan

The typical athletic trainer has a diverse skill set that they must constantly develop and hone.  This series of blog entries will seek to focus on the skill set that most athletic trainers possess in order to effectively do their job in the traditional setting.  Collectively, this skill set makes the AT a very valuable resource to the athletes, coaches and administration that they serve.

Part 1 – Prevention

One of the first things students interested in an athletic training career learns is the 5 domains of athletic training.  Injury prevention is at the top of that list.  Why is it number one?  Because prevention of injury is our main focus much of the time, especially when we first get hired.  The following are real life ways that ATs prevent injury:

  • Develop Policy and Procedure Manuals to prevent heat illness by establishing practice/training guidelines for coaches during hot weather.
  • Develop Lightning Safety Protocols.  Knowing when to seek shelter and where to go is very important and this protocol educates the coaches and athletes when, why and where to go.
  • Educate athletes in personal hygiene to prevent skin infections including MRSA, ringworm, herpes, impetigo, etc..
  • Develop Cold Weather guidelines to prevent hypothermia injuries and frostbite.
  • Ensure that athletes and coaches have necessary access to water and ice to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Educate coaches and athletes in techniques to prevent concussions.  It is important to understand the serious nature of what used to be called getting your “bell rung” or a “mild” concussion.  All concussions are serious and preventing them from ever occurring is critical.  Check out the Concussion Blog for more information.  DON”T HIT WITH YOUR HEAD is a very important message that ATs preach.
  • Before the season starts, ATs often gather the Pre-Participation Physicals and note severe allergies, medical conditions, orthopedic needs, asthma, etc.  That information is then on to the coach.  ATs will also check to make sure that athletes are following the doctor’s orders (such as wearing a brace, has an inhaler, wearing protective eye wear, etc.).
  • ATs are a good resource for strength training and conditioning programs.  ATs have a good base science background in exercise physiology, kinesiology and human anatomy.  Because of this education (which coaches often no longer have), ATs can prevent many injuries from ever occurring by developing a sound off-season and pre-season routine for the athletes.

I am sure that there are many more ways that ATs can prevent common injuries, but this list is a good representation of real world examples of ways that I have attempted to prevent injury.

Fellow ATs, what do are some other ways that you have prevented injury?

3 Responses to “The Athletic Trainer Skill Set – Part 1, Prevention”

  1. Dustin Fink January 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    You said about all of it…
    I do some preventative taping and bracing as well. Knowing how and what the bodies demands are for a particular sport is preventative by nature.
    Walking a field prior to games for unforeseen dangers like varmint holes or exposed sprinkler heads.
    My favorite quote to parents/teacher/admin/kids when they say I am “doing nothing” is;
    “Obviously I am doing my job perfectly, because I am preventing you from being hurt, that is our #1 goal as an athletic trainer.”

  2. Mike Hopper January 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I have always said our job is one where it is best when it is perceived that our salary is “wasted money.” If we’re “not doing anything” while we do our jobs it means that things are going well. When I was doing an internship in 2009, the athletic trainer made the comment about how people see us sitting in the dugout during a game, but that they don’t realize we are there hours beforehand preparing the players to play the game.

    Once again, Paul, another good post!


  1. The Winter Wednesday’s « The Concussion Blog - January 12, 2011

    […] be quiet on the injury front I believe that as an athletic trainer I am doing my best work, because prevention is the #1 goal of our profession.  I hope that things remain calm there, as now I have picked up the off-season conditioning […]

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