Athletic Trainer Skill Set – Scheduling

7 Feb

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 5 – Scheduling

Put yourself in the shoes of a high school head varsity coach.  The coach is responsible for setting a schedule for their players.  This can take a lot of planning depending on the number of players, facility, number of games, etc.  From the preseason through the post season, there are a lot of dynamics that go into setting that schedule.  A good coach will plan for the tough teams on the schedule and want to plan for peak performance and the practice schedule will reflect that plan.  The coach may plan for some time off or some light practices in the middle of the season so that the team is mentally and physically fresh come playoff time.  The coach and the Athletic Director will work together to build a schedule that is competitive and will give the team a chance to succeed.  There is a lot of thought and work that goes into building a team schedule for a season.

Now, put yourself in the role of the AT in the high school or college.  The athletic trainer has very little control over the schedule but is responsible for multiple events.  Many ATS in the traditional setting must track 10 or more athletic teams schedules simultaneously.  While one team may have a tough schedule that week, another may have several days off.  While one team plans a 3 day weekend with no practice on a Friday, another team may be hosting a tournament on Saturday with multiple visiting teams.  With hundreds athletes in season on multiple teams, the scheduling of practices and games can put a strain on facility use and the athletic training staff.  The AT is constantly seeking information on practice schedules, game schedules, scrimmages, weekend practices, practice locations, etc.  It is a never ending task.  Weather often changes schedules at the last minute changing treatment schedules, practices and games. 

Due to the relentless task of keeping an up-to-date schedule, it is important for the AT to be organized and have an open line of communication with coaches and the Athletic Director.  Coaches must understand the scheduling stress placed on ATs when a last minute change to practice and game schedules are made.  Coaches and ADs also need to communicate those scheduling changes as soon as possible to the AT. 

For the experienced ATs, scheduling becomes such second nature that we don’t think about it much.  We constantly communicate with ADs and coaches about their schedules often on a daily basis.  Coaches and ADs who work with these ATs also become trained to let them know the scheduling changes.  Once the ground rules are made and the lines of communication are open, the enormous task of keeping a current schedule is much easier.

Another aspect of the ATs scheduling ability is the ability to try and take time off and take time for ourselves and family.  There are certain times of the year that ATs can’t take time off, but there are other times in the schedule that they can.  It is important for the longevity of the AT to be able to look ahead at the schedule and plan days off.  This can be difficult to do with the uncertainty of playoff schedules but it can be done.

Mistakes will still occur and the AT may not be told all the scheduling changes.  Therefore, ATs need to have a plan on how to handle the situation.  Do you not cover the event?  Do you cover the event?  How will you handle repeated offenses?  How will you try to prevent lack of knowing the schedule?  These are all questions that experienced ATs have answered and that new athletic trainers need to develop answers too. 

Athletic trainers in the traditional setting are masters at setting a schedule.  It is an important skill to us and to be able to offer to the coaches, teams and ADs.  If we don’t develop this skill, we will not be effective in our job nor will we be able to enjoy our job for long.

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